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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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  • by Spy Handler (822350) on Monday April 28, 2014 @12:24PM (#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.

  • Magic Age (Score:5, Interesting)

    by mythosaz (572040) on Monday April 28, 2014 @12:46PM (#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. :(

  • Re:The last picture (Score:5, Interesting)

    by lgw (121541) on Monday April 28, 2014 @12:48PM (#46861095) Journal

    While not a cube addict, I am a Numberphile junkie, and they have several cube-related videos [numberphile.com]. The Rubik's Cube is pretty interesting from the point of view of abstract algebra: a large but finite set of values and an interesting set of operators - very different from + and *. It's a neat example of algebra that's not an obvious analog to numbers, but that you can wrap your head (and hands) around.

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

    by istartedi (132515) on Monday April 28, 2014 @01:16PM (#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...

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

    by benjfowler (239527) on Monday April 28, 2014 @01:24PM (#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.

  • Re:The last picture (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday April 28, 2014 @03:51PM (#46862899)

    The math/group theory of the puzzle is very neat... However what amazes me even more is the physical deign: if you came with the "overall concept" of this puzzle, nearly all mechanical engineers would tell you it is impossible to construct a mechanical gadget (physical object) which would be able to rotate layers in three perpendicular directions without felling apart. Truly marvelous piece of engineering...

Life would be so much easier if we could just look at the source code. -- Dave Olson

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