Fuzzy Dice

Copyright ©2009 by Paul Niquette. All rights reserved.

What is wrong with this picture?
he first four choices...
                #1 Airbag. 
                           #2 SUV ahead. 
                                         #3 Padded dashboard. 
                                                     #4 No steering-wheel knob. 

...will surely tempt the solver into assuming that the picture is anachronistic -- containing artifacts that belong to some time in the past.  Here we see Fuzzy Dice, which went out of style decades ago, dangling from the rear-view mirror in a photograph surrounded by datable objects seemingly too recent for contemporaneous depiction.  Indeed, all of the first four choices might be said to meet the criterion for being "wrong"; however, the puzzle instructions said, "Choose one." 

Accordingly, we must conclude that the anachronistic assumption is wrong -- that instead, the photograph is merely modern enough to include everything in it.  The solution can only be...

#5 Something else entirely.

So what is it?

bserve that the Fuzzy Dice in the photgraph are not identical.  The die on the left has its visible pips arranged in the order 4-5-6 clockwise around the closest common vertex.   The die on the right has 4-5-6 in a counter-clockwise arrangement. 

Western dice are pipped clockwise, Chinese dice counter-clockwise.  Nothing "wrong" with that, though.  It would be wrong to say that they have helicity.  Dice are chiral.

Since antiquity, the tradition for ordinary dice calls for opposite sides of each die to total seven (1+6, 2+5, 3+4). Moreover, it must be possible to place two dice together in a position such that all pairs of pippings -- opposite sides, side-by-side sides, and even facing sides -- sum to seven.  The sketch above shows how that is accomplished by two identical clockwise dice.

Juxtaposing a clockwise die with a counter-clockwise die will not achieve that effect, as the sketch on the left illustrates.

All those summings-to-seven merely mandate a minor matter of mathematical magic.  Ah, but tricking up your car with Fuzzy Dice was for a long time considered a tasteful visual improvement for cars as well as a good luck charm (despite interference with the driver's visual field) -- a talisman undoubtedly assuring success in vehicular romance more effectively than an ugly old rabbit's foot.


This souvenir coffee cup turned up on the kitchen shelf of a certain puzzler and is presented here for solvers to ascertain what is wrong with the illustration. 

Hint: The name on the cup is not wrong.

You are invited to offer your solution and to send a picture of your own for others to solve to puzzles@niquette.com.



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