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

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 @01:24PM (#46860837) Homepage Journal

    try the Rubik's Tesseract [].

    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 @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. :(

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

    by lgw ( 121541 ) on Monday April 28, 2014 @01:48PM (#46861095) Journal

    While not a cube addict, I am a Numberphile junkie, and they have several cube-related videos []. 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 @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...

  • 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.

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

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday April 28, 2014 @04:51PM (#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...

A committee takes root and grows, it flowers, wilts and dies, scattering the seed from which other committees will bloom. -- Parkinson