Saturday, April 20, 2013

R is for Rubik's Cube

Parachute pants, Michael Jackson, Madonna, Growing Pains, L.A. Gear, Breakfast Club....what do all of these have in common? They all helped define the 80s. Come take a fun "Journey" with me as we revisit the totally radical decade.

Invented by Hungarian architecture professor in order to show how to move individual parts without destroying the structure as a whole, he didn't know he had created an amazing puzzle until he scrambled it and worked to restore it. Ideal Toy Corp. eventually bought it, and the rest is history.

Solving the Rubik's Cube might seem easy, but it's not. I remember being is grade school and trying to figure it out. I was awesome at solving one side, but only a handful of kids could do all six sides with no problem. I remember seeing Rubik's Cube contests on TV, and the speed these people would turn the pieces and solve it in a matter of minutes boggled my mind.

I remember seeing the commercial back in '82, and Sir Isaac Newton looked dumbfounded trying to solve the damn thing.

I also recall seeing a book on how to solve the Cube at book fairs. Although I was tempted to buy it, I wanted to figure out how to do it on my own. It took awhile for me to figure it out, and the secret is to solve it in "layers." And then go one by one, solving the top, middle, and then bottom layers. 

The World Record for solving a Rubik's Cube is 5 minutes, 55 seconds held by Mats Valk.

I personally never came close, but I surprised myself by actually solving it without throwing it out the window.


26 comments:

Miranda Hardy said...

I loved that thing. I was able to solve it, but never that quickly. I remember getting so frustrated I moved the stickers around once. Lol

Sheena-kay Graham said...

I never solved one before. But the Rubik's Cube is still awesome.

Pk Hrezo said...

Never had the patience for it, but my son loves trying it.
I once heard an agent use the Rubik's cube to explain characters--and how their layers should be as many as the cube. It was such a great analogy I never forgot it.

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

I could never solve it, but I never had one of those books.

kelworthfiles said...

I could never solve a cube without one of the books. Heck, it was a challenge to follow the instructions in the books sometimes, especially when the sequences around the end got to be half a page long, and if you missed one turn, then you'd hopelessly scrambled the whole thing and had to go back to the beginning! The more of the cube you had filled in, the tougher it was to make progress without disturbing what you'd already done.

We had a few similar 'toy puzzle books' around the house when I was growing up. One was for the simpler spinoffs, including the pyramid, the missing links, and tips for solving a cube that has photographs on all six faces; this adds only one new element to the basic Rubik's cube, that the center of each face now has a visible orientation; it might be upside down when the rest of the picture is all assembled in place!

The last book was for the Alexander's Star, which was several times more complicated than the cube! http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alexander's_Star It was shaped a little like a twenty-sided die, but had twelve interlocking five-pointed stars that rotated around, and you needed to get the background for each star the same color. Very tricky!

Thanks for the memories.

jaybird said...

I remember wanting to peel the stickers off in frustration when I couldn't get that stupid Rubik's cube to line up! And I was so completely jealous of my super smart cousin who could do it, behind his back, without looking in under ten minutes!

mooderino said...

I don't want to boast, but I could do one side very easily.

mood
Moody Writing

farawayeyes said...

One of the most frustrating toys I've ever played with.

L. Diane Wolfe said...

I could solve one! And I had to go check - the world record is 5.55 seconds, not minutes. They even had a video of the guy doing it. I knew it couldn't be 5 minutes, because my best time was 1:28 minutes. I'm sure I would take longer to do it now though.

Dana said...

I don't remember if I ever solved it, but I do remember I had a book with tips in it—my cheat sheet. LOL

Heidi Mannan said...

Oh man, those things used to drive me crazy! I'm stopping by to let you know I've nominated your blog for the Liebster Award. Hop on over to my site to check it out. :) http://heidimannan.blogspot.com/

Stephanie Allen said...

The most I've ever been able to solve is one side. Puzzle-oriented, my brain is not.

Riann Colton said...

The only thing the Rubik's Cube ever did for me was help me with my overhand throw as I hucked that thing across the room. A friend sent me one a couple of years ago and kept asking me if I solved it. "Yes," I said, "I never moved a square now shut up." Bastard.

Tony Laplume said...

I doubt I solved it, but I used to obsess over it. It's a game in spatial awareness, so it's always going to be a game best meant for that kind of mind.

Cynthia said...

I remember the Rubik's cube. Trying to solve it was a way to fill up time. Of course, this was before the Internet came around.

The Desert Rocks said...

I love playing with one for releasing nervous tension but I've never solved it. I get kind of into it though until hubs has to hide it. It's hidden right now.

Robin said...

I never did solve that dratted thing. I am sure it ended up in one of our yard sales.

Tony Acree said...

I bought one and couldn't wait to get it home. When after a half hour with no progress, my brother started making fun of me. I looked at him and said, "I bet you 5 dollars I can solve this in the next five minutes." He said, "You're on." I stood up and then hurled the darn thing against the wall, exploding it into a million pieces. I then put it back together in "finished fashion" and did it in less than the agreed upon 5 minutes. My brother went to my Dad, complaining I had cheated. Dad made him pay up. I never touched it again.

Laura Eno said...

That requires patience. Not happening. ;)

Milo James Fowler said...

I may have resorted to peeling the stickers off and replacing them -- not that I was fooling anybody. I was a naughty little boy.

Melanie Schulz said...

My husband enjoys watching me attempt these. He then takes it and solves it in a ridiculously short period of time.

Rachael Rawlings said...

Isn't peeling off the stickers and rearranging them called creative thinking, or thinking outside the box, er,cube?

Jay Noel said...

I watched a guy rip the stickers off...he was so pissed and fed up.

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