The Rubik Cube Is 30!Posted on: 06 May 2008 by Gareth Hargreaves
Over a quarter of a century has passed since Professor Rubik's mindboggling puzzle first appeared in the shops, and to celebrate we have ten cubes to give away.
When it made its global bow at the beginning of the 1980s, the small, multi-coloured plastic puzzle was absolutely huge - bigger than Dallas, bigger than Michael Jackson's Thriller, bigger, even, than the Royal Wedding.
The Cube found its way not only into practically every home, but also onto a postage stamp in its native Hungary, and onto a plinth in New York's Museum of Modern Art. It even had its own TV show, Rubik, the Amazing Cube.
Originally called the Magic Cube, the legendary Rubik's Cube was invented in 1974 by Hungarian Professor Erno Rubik, then a lecturer at the Department of Interior Design at the Academy of Applied Arts and Crafts in Budapest.
The Cube has 43 quintillion different possible configurations - 43,252,003,274,489,856,000 to be precise - and only one solution. If you made a single turn of one of the Cube’s faces every second, it would take you 1,400 million million years to go through all the possible configurations. By way of comparison, the universe itself is only 14 thousand million years old.
Inventor Erno Rubik says, "Nobody has been able to improve on the basic design, which pleases me as a designer, or on the engineering, which pleases me as an engineer. It’s simple but it’s complex; it’s stable but it’s flexible; it’s easy to understand, but it’s hard to work out the solution."
"The Cube is part of me because I designed it, I created it. It's my child, if you like. But it's not a newborn. When you have children you spend a lot of time with them when they're young, nurturing them. But when they grow up they develop a life of their own and you don’t need to be with them all the time anymore. The Cube is like that."
The current 3x3x3 World Record holder is Frenchman Thibaut Jacquinot, who solved the Cube in just 9.86 seconds at the Spanish National Championship on 5th May 2007.
Under the auspices of the World Cube Association (WCA) more than a hundred official 'Speedcubing' competitions take place each year. The first official World Rubik’s Championship was held on 5th June 1982 in Budapest. The winner was American Minh Thai, who solved a standard (3x3x3) Rubik's Cube in 22.95 seconds.
This autumn, the European Championship is to be held in Krakow, Poland. In 2007, competitors from 46 countries pitted their brains and their manual dexterity against each other, 250 of them at the much heralded World Championship in Budapest, the city where its inventor, Professor Erno Rubik, still lives.
Professsor Rubik is not a speedy solver, however. "For me, it was never about speed, it was about looking at a problem and finding the solution. So I can solve it, but not very fast."
In official Rubik’s Speedcubing competitions, timing is done with a special StackMat. It's average times that count: contestants solve 5 Cubes in each round, with the fastest and slowest times being discounted.
As well as the 'showcase' 3x3x3 and the hard-fought 4x4x4 and 5x5x5 competitions, other are official records are also fought for, including solving the Cube one-handed, blindfold - even using only the feet!
Reputedly the best-selling toy ever, over 350 million Cubes have been sold, 100 million of them during the first two years. Thriller has sold a mere 104 million copies. In the UK, the Cube has sold out each Christmas for the last three years, and in 2007 12 million copies were sold worldwide.
This new website offers information about the Cube and how it was invented, Cube facts and even the mathematical formula for working out the number of combinations you can make with the classic 3x3x3 Cube. Champions share useful tips, find out more about the nimble-fingered young Speedcubers who are acknowledged to be the best in the world, and click on Rubik's Academy to access an excellent source of help and guidance, with Video Master Classes from some of today's top international Speedcubers. You can also access several games, including the mind-blowing Rubik's Clock.
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