“If you are curious, you’ll find the puzzles around you. If you are determined, you will solve them,” said Erno Rubik, the inventor of the mind-bending, patience-challenging, ever-popular Rubik’s cube. His magical invention has fascinated and frustrated people all over the world for more than four decades. The Rubik’s cube has the mesmerizing ability to evoke in its users an obsession and determination to see its puzzle solved and secrets unlocked.
Here are ten awesome Rubik’s cube facts:
The Rubik’s cube was not originally designed as a toy.
The cube’s inventor was Erno Rubik, a professor of architecture at a college in Hungary. He designed the cube in 1974 as a concrete teaching aid. Rubik made the original prototype with wooden blocks and paper clips. When Rubik scrambled the cube he realized that not only did the cube have moving parts, the structure remained intact regardless of the movements. He also discovered how difficult it was to restore the cube to its original configuration. In fact, it took him more than a month to solve the cube!
Its original name was the Magic Cube.
Rubik joined forces with a local toymaker to produce his cube for sale. It was marketed and sold as the “Magic Cube” in a toy store in Budapest, Hungary in 1975. When the Ideal Toy Corporation licensed the cube in 1980 it decided to rename it the Rubik’s Cube in honor of the inventor but also because of the negative occult connotations that may have been associated with it if it continued to be called the Magic Cube.
26 miniature cubes (called ‘cubies’) make up a Rubik’s cube.
The cube consists of six sides. Each side contains nine cubies. The nine cubies on each side have plastic discs of one color. The colors are blue, green, yellow, red, orange, and white. In 1982 a batch of the colored discs attached to the cube was found to contain unhealthily high levels of lead, especially the yellow. The internal mechanism allows the cubies to interlock with those directly adjacent to them and at the same time move in different directions.
The Rubik’s Cube won Toy of the Year in 1980 and 1981.
The Cube Craze reached its zenith in the early 1980s. Only a few toys have the honor of being named Toy of the Year more than once especially individual toys like the Rubik’s Cube. More than 350 million cubes have been sold worldwide making it the best-selling individual toy of all time. There was an upsurge in its popularity in 2006 after Will Smith’s hit movie, The Pursuit of Happyness as it gained popularity with a whole new generation of puzzlers.
On 5 June 1982, the first championships took place in Budapest (birthplace of the cube). There were 19 competitors. Minh Thai (a US competitor) won the competition solving the cube in 22.95 seconds. There is a competition every two years. In 2017 Paris hosted it and American Max Park won with a solve time of 6.85 seconds. Despite this impressive winning time, the world record solve time is 4.69 seconds. The record holder is American Patrick Ponce who set it on 2 September 2017.
The name for those obsessed with solving the cube – Cubaholics.
It is amusing to listen to today’s parents complaining about their offspring’s obsession with games their phones when they too were addicted to the Rubik’s Cube themselves as youngsters. Cubaholism is an addictive compulsion to keep on trying to solve the cube. Many people can spend hours with the cube trying to solve it. They are unable to put it down because they believe that within the next few moves they’ll have solved it. The Cubaholic phenomenon formed the basis for an intriguing television documentary.
Speed cubing is an actual thing!
Speed cubing is a ‘sport’ where people try to solve the Rubik’s cube as quickly as possible. Many speed cubers add in challenges to spice the game up. For instance, some speed cubers use only their feet to solve the cube. There are speed cubers who solve the cube underwater or during a freefall after jumping from a plane! Another inventive speed cuber solves the cube while performing one-handed push-ups. Yet another does it blindfolded. Participants seek style points in addition to speed skills.
Statistically, less than 5.8% of the world’s total population can solve the cube.
Amongst this small number of people is a Chinese toddler seen solving the cube in under two minutes on a Youtube video. A 13-year-old boy wrote a bestselling book outlining strategies for solving the cube. The 1981 book, You Can Do The Cube written by Patrick Bossert, sold over 1.5 million copies. This shows just how desperate people were to be able to solve the cube and claim the honor of being one of the select few who could do it.
The Rubik’s cube inspired Rubik’s Cubism.
Cubist art was a well-established art technique before the Rubik’s Cube’s entry to the market. However, the cube allowed for a new branch of Cubism. It involved using solved Rubik’s Cubes to create mosaic artworks. Josh Chalom used 4000 cubes in 2009 to recreate Leonardo Da Vinci’s The Last Supper. He used 9000 cubes to recreate Michaelangelo’s Hand of God. Given the expense of the Rubik’s Cube, Chalom used counterfeit cubes purchased for a dollar each to create his masterpieces.
There are over 43 quintillion possible permutations on a Rubik’s cube.
In fact, the exact number is 43,252,003,274,489,856,000 possible configurations. It would take one 1.4 trillion years to go through all the permutations if you turned the cube every second. That’s as close to infinite as you can get. The huge number of permutations is what makes the Rubik’s Cube one of the most challenging and frustrating puzzles around. But it is also what makes the cube so highly addictive and entertaining more than 40 years on, paving the way for a whole new generation of Cubaholics!