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The People Who Are Still Addicted To the Rubik's Cube 100

Posted by samzenpus
from the did-you-just-peel-the-stickers? dept.
An anonymous reader writes "If you were a kid in the late 70's or 80's chances are you owned a Rubik's cube. BBC News takes a look at the people who never lost the passion for the puzzle toy and those just learning. 'The speed world record for a single attempt is 5.55 seconds, set by Dutchman Mats Valk last year. The world championship is determined by averaging three attempts. The current champion is 18-year-old Australian Feliks Zemdeg who averaged 8.18 seconds last year. To ensure fairness, a computer generates a randomised cube which all the competitors are given. The record for most Rubik's cubes solved in 24 hours is 4,786, set by Milán Baticz of Hungary.'"
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The People Who Are Still Addicted To the Rubik's Cube

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  • who still watch Star Trek..I mean addicted to Star Trek.
    I solved one, proudly put it on my shelf, and 3 days later someone one was on the news using a pattern to solve it.
    Although my memory of the time is screwy. I would have sworn I did it in 78. Oh well, such is age...stupid stupid age.

    • Try to solve it again, then come to grips with how much smarter you were then.

  • by Kenja (541830) on Monday April 28, 2014 @01:21PM (#46860803)
    It's like the methadone of cube addiction.
  • by Spy Handler (822350) on Monday April 28, 2014 @01:24PM (#46860837) Homepage Journal

    try the Rubik's Tesseract [superliminal.com].

    Since humans can't actually manipulate 4-D objects (yet), you'll have to settle for a computer simulation. Still fun though.

  • 3.3 rubiks cubes per minute for 24 straight hours... I am assuming, of course, that the guy pulled an all nighter.

  • by arielCo (995647) on Monday April 28, 2014 @01:37PM (#46860983)

    My method takes six steps, tops: http://i.imgur.com/Ot0mJHf.jpg [imgur.com]

  • Magic Age (Score:5, Interesting)

    by mythosaz (572040) on Monday April 28, 2014 @01:46PM (#46861073)

    Born in '69 I was the magic age when Rubik's Cubes came out.

    I was solving them with ease when the craze was in full frenzy. In the bookstore (those were places in malls that sold books -- malls were places people used to go shopping), next to the video game guides for beating all of the levels of PacMan were guides for solving your cube.

    I used to make a couple bucks here and there betting I could do a cube in under 2 minutes -- trivial by any competitive standard (then or now).

    Although today I know it's not as efficient strategy as some others, I used a top-down completion method.

    Somewhere between the 80's and today, I forgot the pattern that rotates the bottom middle (non-corner) pieces, and I've never seen the exact method I've used displayed anywhere so I could just pick up the forgotten piece of my solving routine without learning a new one. :(

    • by JStyle (833234)

      I learned this method too. It's the same one written on the booklet that came with my first cube. I think this is still the traditional/simplest method. When doing the final side (3rd layer), you first get the "cross" (center pieces in the correct orientation, not location). Then you go about rotating those centers, if I'm guessing right, the part you're stuck on. I flip my cube "up side down" so the third layer is on the top. These are the moves to switch the front center and right center pieces: U, R, U,

      • by mythosaz (572040)

        Thanks to everyone who replied.

        My method sounds a lot like this one and a couple of the others above -- yours is the closest in terms of the general method, except I don't recall flipping the cube, although that's largely irrelevant.

        I could move the center pieces mostly as described above, then recall sort of brute-forcing the corners by repeating the pattern that rotated them around.

        I'm pretty certain that the bottom side piece rotation pattern I used was what Wraithlyn posted below this.

        R- B- R+ B-
        R- B2 R+ B2

        (+ = clockwise, - = counterclockwise, 2 = twice)

        Thanks everyone. :

        • by JStyle (833234)

          The corner rotation is really simple. R-, B-, R+, B+

          You'll have to do that sequence 2x or 4x to get the orientation right. Then rotate the top face until you have a different corner that needs fixing in the "bottom right" corner (when looking at the top face). It's easy to forget the last B+ when learning (at least I did). And only rotate the top face, not the whole cube in your hands to get to the next corner. This move looks like it scrambles the cube, and then magically brings it back when on your last m

          • by mythosaz (572040)

            Thanks again.

            For nostalgia's sake, I'll order myself a copy of the book I linked a few posts over, and find my old cube :)

            • by JStyle (833234)

              No prob. Post again if you need any help. I get e-mails for replies. If you can't find your old cube, I recommend this one: http://www.amazon.com/gp/produ... [amazon.com]

              I'm a mild enthusiast myself (fastest is about a minute). I keep one at my desk. I'm a big fan of the stickerless design and it's very slick out of the box. A little silicone oil lubricant (RC shock oil, 30wt) will make it REAL fast.

    • by Wraithlyn (133796)

      A pattern to rotate 3 of the 4 bottom side pieces (all except the "top" one) is:

      R- B- R+ B-
      R- B2 R+ B2

      (+ = clockwise, - = counterclockwise, 2 = twice)

      I wonder if we know the same method? The one I know does: top sides, top corners, sides, bottom corners, bottom sides.

      • by mythosaz (572040)

        Replied above, but that's it for sure.

        Bottom corners had a similar method to rotate through their orientations. Is there a good copy of this method somewhere, or are you going from memory. Even gesturing my hands in "down over back over" "down over over back over over" brings back memories :)

      • by mythosaz (572040)

        Should have added that I learned from a little white pocket book..

        This one?
        http://www.epubbud.com/read.ph... [epubbud.com]

        • by Wraithlyn (133796)

          YES! That is exactly what I learned it from. I still have the book somewhere too.

          I don't know of an identical method posted online, that sequence was actually from memory believe it or not (or rather, my hands still remembered the pattern and I just had to transcribe it).

        • by Wraithlyn (133796)

          Ha, and after looking through the book link, I gave you the wrong sequence...

          The one I gave you is for rotating the CORNER pieces (4e), whereas you need the sequence described in 5a/5b.

    • Born in '69 I was the magic age when Rubik's Cubes came out.

      '67 for me.

      next to the video game guides for beating all of the levels of PacMan were guides for solving your cube.

      Yup, plenty of books on it, though for most even the books were too complex. I used the "Simple Solution" book. Top down method. On a good day It took me about a minute and a half.

      I forgot the pattern that rotates the bottom middle (non-corner) pieces, and I've never seen the exact method I've used displayed anywhere so I could just pick up the forgotten piece of my solving routine without learning a new one. :(

      I've forgotten how as well, sigh, course I haven't solved a cube in about 27 years.

    • Well gee, the top half of this story threads are wrecked, so I'll reply to you.

      According to the (non-optimized) version I learned, you're not wrong. The Bottom Middle Non-Corners were the bear of the solution. You had both rotation and orientation to worry about. The Rotation was 18 moves long and the Orientation was 18 moves long.

      So one fun prank was to take display cubes and throw them off by the 18 move orientation move, and know that "it looks so close" but no one could fix it, then they have the minor

      • by n6kuy (172098)

        > The Rotation was 18 moves long and the Orientation was 18 moves long.

        Ur doin' it wrong

        Even the instructions that come with the cube nowadays give you an orientation procedure of 6 moves and a rotation procedure of 8 moves.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    People still play chess, because they like it. I think I'm dumbening because of Slashdot's slow news day articles.

  • Former "addict" here (Score:4, Interesting)

    by istartedi (132515) on Monday April 28, 2014 @02:16PM (#46861357) Journal

    I was born in '68. Another poster called '69 the "magic age" to be when it came out. Close enough. I was fascinated by the thing, and was able to solve it before the books came out--with a little help from Scientific American. They published an article which included a way to annotate moves on the Cube. More importantly, the article gave me the key insight--think of the individual "cubies" and not "the sides". It seems obvious now; but when presented with a cube you were erroneously lead to regard "getting a side" as progress. Nonsense. You had to get cubies aligned, and then align other cubies without disturbing the previous alignment. Of course I'm glossing over a lot here, and I'm sure the techniques have advanced considerably. Anyway, I was able to get some positive attention for a change by solving it a few months before all the books on how to solve it came out. Yep, people actually bought books on how to solve it. I think I got the thing down to a little under 3 minutes. Then I started doing patterns with it. I could tell when a cube had been made un-solvable. This happened when people switched the stickers. My obsession lasted a little less than a year, then trailed off. I'd solve it "for old times sake" a few years after that. I don't recall exactly where it fit in time. It probably ran concurrently with arcade games and slightly before I got obsessed with flyable model planes...

    • Close enough. I was fascinated by the thing, and was able to solve it before the books came out--with a little help from Scientific American. They published an article which included a way to annotate moves on the Cube.

      That's probably Douglas Hofstadter's [wikipedia.org] article. His non-fiction should be required reading for any geek/nerd. (He was influential enough in the 80's to be immortalized in the novel 2010 where HAL was described as being "trapped in a Hofstadterâ"Mobius loop".)

    • by greg1104 (461138)

      Switching the stickers isn't the only way to screw one up. It's also easy to make an unsolvable cube after taking it apart with a screwdriver. The wiki-how guide [wikihow.com] states 11/12 of randomly assembled cubes aren't solvable.

      I could solve a cube in just under a minute. Rather than focus on speeding that up further, I worked on all the other puzzles that came out after the cube's popularity. Missing Link, Pyramid, Rubik's Snake...I still have them all in a big bag o' nostalgia.

      • by istartedi (132515)

        Now there's an interesting challenge for advanced cubists. Doctor the cube, and ask them to explain how it was doctored. I don't recall if the cube I was handed ended up with stickers switched far apart (indicative of sticker switching) or a cubie where the twists wouldn't sum to zero (indicative of evil reassembly). I just recall that my friend down the block had one he couldn't solve, and that when I told him something was wrong with it, he recalled that he had given it to somebody who might have been

  • Rubik's Cube (Score:5, Interesting)

    by benjfowler (239527) on Monday April 28, 2014 @02:24PM (#46861449)

    I think there are several ways of tackling it:

    0) the hard way: learning to solve it in a 'naiive' fashion.
    1) learn a basic solve using the basic technique. This can be done in 1 day, if you apply yourself. Not very challenging.
    2) learn to speed-solve the cube (e.g. solving in well under 1 minute). TOTALLY different kettle of fish to merely learning to solve. Can take ages (years) to get really fast.
    3) use the Rubiks Cube as a motivation to learn some group theory and solve the cube from first principles that way. Bonus: the mathematics has myriad uses elsewhere.

  • by Anonymous Psychopath (18031) on Monday April 28, 2014 @02:59PM (#46861815) Homepage

    TFA says there were no Youtube videos to learn solving methods back in the day. That's true, but there were published solving procedures in book form. I had one when I was around 12 or 13 and after some practice could solve a cube in well under a minute, but it's been so long I can no longer remember the process I used. It worked 100% of the time, though. TFA makes it sound like it was a lot harder to solve in the 80's before the popularization of the Internet, but it wasn't. You just had to buy a book.

    • My 14-year-old son found an old Rubik's cube and tought himself to solve it using youtube videos in about a week. He enjoyed it enough to ask for a 'speed cube' for his birthday. I don't think he'll be in world competition, but it frequently only takes him tens of seconds.

      Me, I manged to teach myself to get one side solved and oriented, but I never figured out more than that on my own. (Nor felt the need to go look up solutions.)

      • by _UnderTow_ (86073)
        I messed with mine for about a day and a half before taking it apart and putting it back together in a solved state. I got my solving time down to just a few minutes that way.
      • by Kittenman (971447)

        My 14-year-old son found an old Rubik's cube and tought himself to solve it using youtube videos in about a week.

        Hate to say it,,, but isn't that cheating? Sort of like saying "I won at monopoly, and had access to the bank's money". Yeah, ok, I couldn't think of a videogame reference quick enough. Sue me.

        • Ha! Dude, it's not like a walkthrough for a linear first-person shooter. As TFA says, it's algorithms for rearranging the blocks.
    • by jrumney (197329)
      I had one of those books back in the day, and could solve the cube in around a minute using the patterns I learned from it. Now I only remember 2 patterns from my book, but its all I need to solve a cube (though it takes me about 10 minutes with only those).
  • by Bryan Ischo (893) * on Monday April 28, 2014 @03:01PM (#46861829) Homepage

    Once you know a beginner's algorithm for solving the cube, it's amazingly easy to do. I was a kid in the 80's and all my life I thought it required serious brains to be able to solve it. Now I know that the guys who figured out how to solve it had brains, but for the rest of use, there are extremely easy algorithms that can be used to do it. In a way, it's taken the mystery out of the puzzle for me.

    I taught my son how to solve it when he was 5 (last year). Solving the cube is in fact so easy that a kid can do it.

    • Solving the cube is in fact so easy that a kid can do it.

      That killed it for me. Our school bookmobile was selling a book on how to solve it for $4 or so. I picked one up, read about the solving algorithm, and then pretty much lost all interest. It went from intriguing to "oh, so I can learn to do this rote thing fast". I scrambled and solved mine a few times and then put it in a drawer where it stayed until my kids found it decades later.

    • by delt0r (999393)
      One of my math teachers once told me that if its hard you don't understand it yet. Once you do understand it, its so easy its hard to understand how it was ever hard in the first place.
  • by sl3xd (111641) on Monday April 28, 2014 @03:38PM (#46862153) Journal

    I never really stopped liking the Rubik's cube. The remarkable thing I've found is the explosion of nxn cubes made by companies other than Rubik's - each with a very different feel (and much better performance).

    In my opinion, the Rubik's brand are the worst available - overpriced, and literally painful to use for more than a few twists. Even a cheap $3 knockoff is a vastly superior mechanical design.

    Modern speedcubes (non-Rubik's) are a lot more fun: your hands aren't hurting because the cube is painfully stiff or constantly locking up because of a tiny misalignment. The stickers don't peel up from a few minute's use... And they still cost less than the Rubik's brand.

    • by n6kuy (172098)

      > In my opinion, the Rubik's brand are the worst available.

      You haven't tried the cheap dollar store variety, then.

    • by delt0r (999393)
      I have several good 3x3s a very good 4x4 and a rubiks 5x5. The Rubiks is really horrible. But i can solve easier than the 4x4 since i never remember parity moves.
  • Call me an addict, rarely a day passes without a couple of solves. I now own cubes from 2x2x2 up to 5x5x5. I will never be near the record solving times however I like it. So not everyone is "still" an addict, some just got in. For me at age 31.
  • So the starting configurations for setting the Rubik's cube record are random. If I wait long enough, the starting configurations will randomly be the identity transformation, and I can solve the cube in 0 seconds. Therefore, in the infinite-time limit, I am the Rubik's cube champion with an unbeatable time. QED
  • I've been doing several to dozens of solves daily for the last several years. I couldn't average much faster than 40 seconds no matter how much a studied and practiced. A few months ago I threw away all of my cubes (around 10 of them) so that I could stop obsessing over it. I was wasting so much of my life sitting there solving over and over.

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