In 1974, Erno Rubiks created the first Rubiks Cube. Born on July 13, 1944 in Hungary, Erno became a professor in the Academy of Applied Arts and Design in Budapest. His passion for 3-D objects led him to envision a three dimensional cube that would have moving pieces on each face. In 1974, he constructed the first wooden Rubiks Cube.
In a twist of irony, the creator realized that he couldn’t “fix” the cube. He puzzled over the cube for many days, but could never return the cube to its solved state. It took him more than a month before his first solve. Enthralled by his creation, he shared it with the students, his town, and eventually the world. No one could figure it out. In 1975, Rubiks established a deal that would mass produce his Rubiks cubes, and in 1977, they began to appear in stores in Budapest. It wasn’t until 1980, that the first rubiks cubes appeared in the western markets. By 1982, over 100 million rubiks cubes were sold, making it one of the most popular toys to date. People worldwide went wild over this new product, and were completely awestruck when they realized they couldn’t solve the rubiks cube.
The rubiks cube has exactly 43,252,003,274,489,856,000 different configurations. In the mid 1980s, several books were published showing people how to solve the rubiks cube. The first official rubiks cube tournament was held in Budapest in 1982. People were drawn into the world of speed solving. Today, the rubiks cube is no longer a secret, as people have figured out multiple methods of solving the cube.
Methods of solving the cube can mainly be categorized into two main groups, blockbuilding and layer by layer methods. Blockbuilding methods are methods where you simply move corresponding pieces together into blocks, and you continue doing so until you solve the cube. Some blockbuilding methods are Petrus, Roux, and Heise method. Layer by layer methods are more popular alternative. As the name suggests, it solves the cube layer by layer. The most popular method is Fridrich Method which has four steps. There are some other methods that do not belong to these two groups, such as Corners First, ZZ , and Triangular Fresco method. With the Fridrich method, you can easily get a sub-20 second average.
So how do these methods work? It’s because of algorithms. Algorithms are a series of set moves that move pieces in a desired fashion around a cube. A method works by simply moving the pieces on a cube around until it’s finished. In order to learn algorithms, one must be familiar with cube notations. Cube notations are a system that names every layer and face on a cube so you can know which layer to turn. For example, the face facing you is denoted by a capital “F.” The layer that is facing you is called the F layer, or front layer. When you want to turn the front layer 90 degrees clockwise, you write “F.” If you wanted it to turn 90 degrees counterclockwise, you would write “F’ .” Finally, if you wanted to turn the front 180 degrees, you would write “F2.”
An algorithm would look something like this: R U R’ U R U2 R’ where R stands for the right layer, and U stands for the top or upper layer. There are many different algorithms to learn, and to fully learn a method, you must memorize every algorithm. The number of algorithms in a method vary from as little as ten to over a thousand! There is a link between the number of algorithms you know, and how fast you are. The more algorithms you learn, the quicker you become.
Since the first competition in 1982, the speedsolving world has come a long way. With the record being constantly broken, the current official world record for 3×3 single, is an amazingly low 5.55 seconds held by Mat Valks. Since then, new branches have emerged from the original rubiks cube. Competitions now include a variety of other events such as the 4×4, 5×5, 6×6, blindfold, least amount of moves, and even feet solving! Now, competition are being held around the world (Interested? Search WCA or World Cubing Association) for all ages, in almost every country. After 30 years of the creation of the first rubiks cube, over 300 million of these puzzling contraptions have been sold.
If one wants to become a speedcuber, one must have a speedcube. Speed cubes come in a variety of brands. The most popular is the Dayan Zhanchi 5, but there are other brands like the guhong, sulong, fangshi, moyu weilong, shengshou aurora, and more! Sticker color or shades can also be changed with colors differing from the original blue,red,white,yellow,orange, and green. Lubricating you cube is a must if you want super fast speeds. Lubes typically are silicone lubes, or other brands such as Lubix or Cubicle. Lubricating keeps your cube smooth and fast. As a speedcuber, keeping your cube in top condition is essential to getting good solves.
Another extremely popular variation to the original rubiks cube is the mirror cube. The mirror cube is a unique three by three that has only one color, and it consists of shapes instead of identical pieces. As you scramble the cube, it quickly changes from a cube shape, into a jumbled, uneven, not even a real shape, mess. Your job is to know which pieces go with which by matching up the sizes with similar sized ones, eventually returning it to its solved cube state. The solving process is the exact same as the regular rubiks cube, except it may be confusing at first when you see the pieces. This puzzle was invented by Hidetoshi Takeji in 2006, and began mass production in 2008. Since then, it has become recognized worldwide, and has gained popularity in the speed solving community.
Although the 3x3x3 is the most common, there are many more puzzles to explore. Instead of a 3x3x3, try a 4x4x4, or a 2x2x2, or a 17x17x17, or anything in between, along with attached cubes, like the quadruple cube. There are other cubed shaped things, like a ghost cube, gear cube, void cube, or a skweb. There are also rectangular prisms, like 2x2x5, or 3x3x1. And then there are random other geometric shapes, like tetraminx, megaminx, starminx, and many others. There are many online guides on solving each of them.
The recent obsession of rubiks cubes in the 7th and 8th grade, and according the Claudia Yan 14’, it’s something that has happened to every grade at some point in time. The fixation has even spread to some of the teachers, like Mr. Lakhaney. He organized and hosted a Rubiks Cube tournament open for all students on Tuesday, March 11th from 3 – 4 p.m. The rapid increase in popularity is due to a desire to know how to solve the cube, and the influence of a few people that actually got around to learning. Since then, the number of people that have learned and want to learn has increased significantly.
Within our community, there is a large range of times, or how long it takes to solve the cube. There are beginners that take 5 minutes, those who are practicing with 1 minute and some odd second times and then there are people who are still slowly speeding up with 30 second times. It’s a fun hobby to pick up, but if you are too lazy, there are several ways to cheat, although cubers look down upon it. The stickers can be peeled off and replaced, unless the cube you own is a sticker-less one, in which case, painting over it is a possibility. The cube itself can be taken apart and put back together. There are programs online that if you input the pattern on your cube, it will give you the exact moves to solve it. And lastly, if you repeat the same amount of moves over and over on a solved cube, it will eventually return back to its original state. Or you could just buy a 1x1x1.