The Cube

During the mid-1980s, “it was estimated that one-fifth of the world’s population had played the Cube.” (http://www.rubiks.com/world/cube_facts.php)

Today I bring in a guest expert, Matthew Young, to discuss the phenomenon that is the Rubik’s Cube. Matthew Young is currently pursuing a bachelor’s degree in computational structural analysis at Purdue University. His hobbies include solving sudoku puzzles, excel coding, and writing internet memes. He recently acquired his own Rubik’s Cube and was willing to answer a few questions.

  • What is a Rubik’s Cube? How do you solve it?

“The Cube is made of three layers, each of which independently turn. The goal is to take a cube which has all the colors mixed up and to get them all in order, so that it has all of one color on each face.”

  • Why do you enjoy playing with a Rubik’s Cube?

“Because I like the feeling of accomplishment I get when I solve it. I like how the colors look when it’s scrambled up. I like it because it brings people together. I like it because it’s fun.”

  • How does it bring people together?

“People like to solve it together. They like to show off what they know or to learn from someone else.”

  • What kind of math goes into solving the Rubik’s Cube puzzle?

“Algorithms. Lots of algorithms.”

  • What are algorithms?

“Algorithms are basically step by step instructions that are laid out using math. Like – first add two, then subtract three. I don’t know all the math that the Cube uses. I just know that once you solve a face of the cube, all possible solutions are accounted for, and then you apply an algorithm. Like, turn this side, then that one. And repeat until it’s solved.”

  • What is the point of the Rubik’s Cube?

“Learning how to solve the Cube isn’t so much an insurmountable challenge  as an opportunity to learn about your own problem solving skills.”

  • Fun facts:

The Rubik’s Cube was almost named The Gordian Knot after the legend of the Gordian knot which was said to be tied so intricately that almost no one could untie it. 

Instead, it was named after it’s inventor, Emo Rubrik in 1974. It took Rubrik a whole month to solve his own puzzle for the first time – before he solved it, he wasn’t even sure it was possible!

(http://www.funtrivia.com/en/Hobbies/Rubiks-Cube-17422.html)

~

“The Cube has inspired everything from fashion, architecture and music to films, plays and political speeches. There is also a dedicated art movement known as ‘Rubikubism’.”

(http://www.rubiks.com/world/cube_facts.php)

~

Questions

  • What are some other toys with a cult following?
  • What kind of influence can a toy have on a culture?
  • How smart do you have to be to solve a puzzle like the Rubik’s Cube?

Leave a reply below!

………………………………

BONUS:

In case you’re still dubious about Rubikubism, here are a few examples:

Fashion:

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Rubiks-Ladies-1980s-Fancy-Costume/dp/B0066EP8OC/ref=pd_sim_sbs_k_h_b_cs_1/277-7521178-7454317

Architecture:

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/northamerica/usa/2959247/Beijing-Birds-Nest-architects-unveil-Rubiks-cube-addition-to-New-York-skyline.html

Art:

http://www.darkroastedblend.com/2010/10/rubiks-fix-cubes-spheres-more.html

And, yes, even music:

If you haven’t picked up a Rubik’s Cube since the 80s – go pick one up today. Maybe today’s the day you’ll finally solve it!

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2 thoughts on “The Cube

  1. I think Legos are a little like this, a toy that has become much more than a toy. Interesting that they are both based on blocks stuck together in interesting ways.
    How long does it take to solve a Rubik’s cube? For me it means taking the time to find a good solution manual!

  2. I love watching the videos of people solving the cube in under a minute. It really is interesting to watch and I can see how it can bring people together. I wonder how much Matthew Young has practiced?

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