Piet Hein (December 16, 1905 - April 18, 1996) was a scientist, mathematician, inventor, and author, often writing under the Old Norse pseudonym "Kumbel" meaning "tombstone".

He was born in Copenhagen, Denmark. He studied at the Institute for Theoretical Physics of the University of Copenhagen (later to become the Niels Bohr Institute), and Technical University of Denmark. Yale awarded him an honorary doctorate in 1972. He died in his home on Funen, Denmark in 1996.

He is known to a wider public for his thousands of short, aphoristic poems called Grooks and creations like the game of Hex, Tangloids, Morra, Tower, Polytaire, TacTix, and the Soma cube. He advocated the use of the super ellipse curve in city planning, furniture making and other realms.

He was a direct descendant of Piet Hein, the Dutch naval hero of the 16th century.


  • "A Poet with a Slide Rule: Piet Hein Bestrides Art and Science," by Jim Hicks, Life Magazine, Vol. 61 No. 16, 10/14/66, pp.55-66
  • Grooks, by Piet Hein, (1998) Borgens Forlag; ISBN 8741810791
  • Collected Grooks I, by Piet Hein Borgens Forlag; ISBN 8721018596
  • Collected Grooks II, by Piet Hein Borgens Forlag; ISBN 8721018618

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