Chris Loans

by : Do You Hate It Or Love It?

Do You Hate It or Love It?

If you can complete the Rubik's cube then you love it, but if you can't then you hate that piece of plastic with 26 parts and one frame.

For 18 years I fiddled and got frustrated by the cube. When you are young there is lots of time to spend on this sort of thing.

At the age of 21 someone showed me the moves required to solve the cube. I was very pleased but also highly annoyed that it took 18 years for me to find the solution.

I am now 26 and I have done some research on that rigid time waster some people call a puzzle. It is way more than a puzzle!

Many people have studied the maths of the cube, hence the algorithms available on some sites that will solve any cube so long as you enter the colors in correctly.

The maths used in the cube is of a higher form that is studied at school, it is called group theory. Enough of that though!

There are two ways to do the cube. The short way, and the long way.

The long way involves completing one side first and then completing the rest of the cube, using sequences of moves that move certain blocks around. There are a few different methods and they all require you to remember sequences of moves for different situations.

Each person is different and one person might prefer one method over another, but for me the main criteria for a solution is the ease with which the solution can be remembered, so that a couple of months down the line you will still be able to do the cube without having practiced.

The short way involves hours of dedication and a good memory. Sequences of turns are memorized along with what the sequence achieves. The difference here is there are over 40 different sets of moves, and even more depending how determined you are.

To complete the cube in the world record time of 16.5 seconds (averaged over 3 attempts, in front of an audience) requires you to know just the right turns to get the mixed up cube to the completed state. I would imagine that a person would have to almost become “one with the cube" to be able to achieve this consistently.

One of the main issues is the number of turns. Each turn takes time, albeit a very short time because these guys do there turns at a rate faster than 4 turns per second.

Imagine this (sounds like something from The Matrix), you get given a mixed up cube, you look at the cube for 30 seconds, you then pick the correct set of turns from your memorized list of over 40 sets and use that to complete the cube. Being blindfolded makes no difference because you are “one with the cube". Reality is being altered.

Ok, come back to reality for a while and say to yourself, what do I want to achieve. Do you want to be able to complete the cube in 3 minutes, or in 30 seconds.

To be able to solve the cube in 3 minutes will probably take you about 4 hours to learn the moves from a book or a web site, it will then take you a further 4 hours to complete the cube a number of times, before you can remember it and do it without looking at the book or the website.

That is if you use a good book or a good web site, don’t waste your time trying to follow the solution that comes with the cube that you bought, that is maybe for Einstein, although I am sure even he would find it a challenge!

If someone can sit with you and show you the moves, then it will take you about 1 hour to complete the cube the 1st time, and then about 4 hours to get all the moves into your head.

However, to be able to solve the cube in 30 seconds will probably require in excess of 1000 hours of practice, and you will have to remain “fit" by practicing for at least 4 hours a dayFeature Articles, to keep your speed up.

So the short way is actually the long way and the long way is actually the short way. Decide for yourself!

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