Everytime I’ve shown off my Rubik’s cube skills, I’ve managed to elicit some pretty astonished responses. I can solve it — without fail — in less than two minutes.
For anybody who’s taken the time to learn a little about Rubik’s cubes, you’ll know that this feat is far from remarkable. For many of the other people, the cube seems like some sort of magical enigma reserved only for the exceptionally gifted and the mathematical geniuses.
This post is directed at you guys. I want to dispell some of the cube’s mystery and maybe encourage you to pick one up yourselves.
Firstly, I’m absolutely not any sort of mathematical genius. I’m quick with my timetables and can calculate everyday sums like grocery shopping pretty well, but that’s all. A strong background in mathematics is not necessary for solving the cube.
Here are the attributes that I think are important. All you need are 1, 2, and 3, and either 4 or 5, and I’m certain you could solve it.
- A decent memory and ability to recognise patterns.
- Finger dexterity beyond that of a toddler.
- A day or so when you seriously have nothing better to do than sit down with a Rubik’s cube and watch Youtube video tutorials.
- An interest in puzzles and challenging your brain.
- An unusually strong desire/insecurity to showcase your hidden intelligence to friends and family.
Here’s the thing most people don’t realise: there are very methodical, logical, and memorable ways to solve a Rubik’s cube. Only few truly gifted people have the ability to simply look at a scrambled cube and immediately understand everything they need to do to set it right (and some of these people can solve it in under 10 seconds).
Most beginners, including myself, use a particular method that tackles the cube layer-by-layer. Don’t worry, I’m not about to explain the whole process — just a general gist. The method is broken down into logical steps — each step involving, say, four turns of the cube. (With a ‘turn’ being something like: ‘turn the left side of the cube clockwise’).
So from starting out with a completely scrambled cube — colours all higgledy piggledy — each layer starts to gradually come together. And all of a sudden you’re one or two turns away from that ever-so-satisfying perfectly organised cube.
It’s not as complicated as you would think, but do expect to spend at least a few hours memorising all the steps (in the simplest method, you need to learn eight different steps, or algorithms). And the best way to do it? Youtube. There are excellent tutorials available for free that take you through the entire process.
This isn’t a post to explain how to solve the Rubik’s cube, just to let you know that it really doesn’t take a genius. Have a go for yourself!