Tonight, I needed something fast to doodlewash as I’m still running short on time. For some unknown reason, this made me think of Rubik’s Cube as I remember people competing to see how fast they could solve it, also known as speedcubing. For my version of the speedcubing challenge, I had to see if I could doodlewash wash one in less than 20 minutes and this is what came out. Invented in 1974 by Hungarian sculptor and professor of architecture Ernő Rubik, the little cube reached the height of its mainstream popularity in the 80’s.
I mentioned in a previous post that I actually did solve the Rubik’s Cube a few times, but I neglected to mention that I also had a little book that walked me through the concept. David Singmaster developed a notation to denote a sequence of moves, referred to as “Singmaster notation”. Its relative nature allows algorithms to be written in such a way that they can be applied regardless of which side is designated the top or how the colors are organized on a particular cube. So yeah, I was a big geek.
Regardless of the help of this particular book, it was still ridiculously complex. This caused many of my friends to discover that you can also carefully peel off the colored stickers on the side and just jab them into the correct spot, alleviating hours of frustration. Of course, this was cheating, and had none of the incredible satisfaction that comes with actually solving it, but that didn’t stop them. And honestly, this was a maddeningly disturbing “game” so I can’t really blame them for searching for a quick fix.
I haven’t tried to solve one of these since the 80’s and I doubt I could still figure it out today. My brain got older and less patient for such grueling endeavors. Either that or I’ve simply gotten dumber over the years and can’t grasp things with this level of complexity. Either way, I have fond memories of that moment years ago when I briefly mastered what is now called the world’s most popular puzzle.