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April 7 2021 | Catalina Ville…

(with thanks to Chantal Cormier and Louis Cormier for their help)

If you’re like me, you probably fell under the spell of the Rubik’s cube at one time. And when you realized you couldn’t solve it, you just put it away with all its colours mixed up. It still looks pretty cool on my desk as a decor item though…

It’s All in the Algorithms

There’s nothing mystical about this popular little puzzle. The key to solving it just involves a bit of motivation and perseverance. Don’t believe the myth that you have to be some kind of math whiz to crack the fantastically complex Rubik’s cube. Nothing could be further from the truth! Even a beginner can solve it just by remembering and repeating five algorithms (sets of steps to follow), while experts can remember hundreds of algorithms to solve more than one piece at a time. The secret is mostly about practice, plus a keen sense of observation, good spatial abilities, and dexterity.

The Rubik’s Cube became popular around the world as a toy and a puzzle, but it was originally designed as an educational tool. It was invented as a 3D geometric model in 1974 by Ernő Rubik, a Hungarian architecture professor. One of his friends suggested that he add coloured stickers to it, and he was surprised at how difficult it was to put all the colours back in place. The Rubik’s Cube is still a cultural icon in Hungary and the Rubik’s brand continues its educational mission by developing programs and resources based in math and geometry, and the arts too:

Anyone looking for tutorials?

If you want to jump straight into the tutorials and try the Beginner’s Method, download the flyer here. [hyperlien vers le document PDF « Solution cube Rubik 3X3 »].

If you prefer learning the steps through a video, here’s the tutorial we recommend.

Alright! Time to dust them off and break out those old cubes!

A Canadian Champion Solving Puzzles of all Shapes and Sizes

I had the pleasure of talking with a Canadian Rubik’s speedcubing champion who also happens to be a champion at similar kinds of puzzles. Originally from Rockland in Eastern Ontario, Louis Cormier learned the classic 3x3 Rubik’s Cube Beginner’s Method from his sister in 2009, when he was 12. Louis got hooked and founded a Rubik’s Cube club at school and trained for his first competition that took place in Toronto in 2010. This was how he met a whole community of Rubik’s Cubers, and in 2014 he broke the world record at the European Championship in Denmark. So far, Louis has earned himself 240 spots on the podium at over 55 competitions held in five different countries. He has broken two world records, 20 North American records, and 24 Canadian records. He can’t wait for the pandemic to be over so he can start competing again.  

Also a Megaminx champion (a puzzle with 12 faces!), Louis smashed two world records by solving it in 39.57 seconds, with an average of 45.77 seconds.

In this video, he offers beginner and intermediate puzzle solvers some tips along with an impressive demonstration of his dexterity, from the 2x2 to the Megaminx and, of course, the 3x3 we all know.

Fun Facts about the 3x3 Cube

  • By calculating all the probabilities, the coloured squares of the 3x3 cube have 43,252,003,274,489,856,000 possible configurations — that’s 6,000 billion possible combinations… for every human on the planet!
  • The maximum numbers of moves it takes to solve any configuration of the famous cube is 20.
  • The first world record was set at the first world championship in 1982 by an American called Minh Thai. His technique involved getting the corners pieces in place first and then working on the edge pieces. His record was 22.95 seconds.
  • The cube’s inventor, Ernő Rubik, didn’t know how to solve it when he created it in 1974.
  • DeepCubeA, an artificial intelligence algorithm, can solve the Rubik’s cube in a fraction of a second without any prior knowledge or human training.
  • The first Rubik’s competition to take place in Québec was held in 2013 at the Montréal Science Centre!

Cool Links:

  • Video of the 3x3 Canadian record holder Louis Cormier solving in 6.41 seconds in 2014:

Catalina Villegas Burgos
Profile picture for user Catalina Villegas Burgos

Catalina Villegas has a bachelor’s degree in physics engineering but found her calling in popularizing science and science outreach. This is what she does at the Montréal Science Centre where she also does content research for its exhibitions and programs. Her other interests include art, caricature, origami, and literature.