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RGB Color Cube

By Shamus
on Thursday Mar 23, 2006
Filed under:


RGB Color Cube

My own Rubik’s cube. Somewhat worn but still loveable.

While we’re here, let’s dispell some myths…

  • The solution isn’t just a single sequence of moves that leads to the pieces falling into place by magic. It isn’t some secret combination of turns that you repeat over and over.
  • You cannot have just one piece out of place. You also cannot solve five sides. (Think about it)
  • There are eight corner pieces and twelve edge pieces, for a total of twenty pieces that move. The center pieces do not move relative to one another: They simply spin in place.
  • You don’t need to spend five minutes turning the thing to make sure it’s REALLY messed up. Once it’s scrambled, it’s scrambled, and any more random moves are superfluous.
  • The solution is not to solve for sides. People will sometimes get two (usually adjacent) sides, and then think they should naturally progress to three, four, and so on. Sometimes I have two adjacent sides completed, and I’m obliged to scramble one of them as I work on the rest of the cube. Sometimes the audience will laugh at me, “Ha ha! You had that one and messed it up!”

There is a tradeoff in solution methodology. Generally, you can have short (ish) sequences of moves that can be used over and over again to swap a couple of pieces. For example, if you have two corner pieces that need to trade places without disturbing the other six corner pieces, you might hold the cube so that the two corners in question are right in front of you, and then make a particular seven-move sequence. You could use this method over and over again to nudge all of the corners into place. However, you could also have a longer sequence that swaps four corners. You’ll need to memorize a few different variants of it, depending on how you want to re-arrange those four corners. But when you’re done, you’ll have four corners sorted instead of two. So, the simple method would require you memorize one seven-move sequence, and the faster method has you memorize several ten-move sequences. It continues to scale up like this, with longer and more complex chains getting more accomplished. I’m sure the masters have immense lists of moves for every situation. Pehaps they can arrange all eight corners in one set of moves, they just need to choose the right sequence of moves from the huge library they have memorized, and then perform it flawlessly.

Another danger of using long chains: If you mess up and make a wrong turn somewhere, it is far harder to recover. Generally if you make a mistake during a long chain you won’t know it until you’re nearly through with it, and by that time you’re in trouble. The last few errant moves have just been scrambling the cube. When this happens to me I have to start all over.

There are many solution methods that people use. Some are very tricky and optimized for speed. Mine is much simpler and quite slow. The best in the world can solve a cube in less than fifteen seconds. I’ve seen it done* , and it is very strange. Unlike the method I use, where I work on a layer at a time (top to bottom), these people seem to work on the entire cube at once. The cube looks scrambled right up until the last few moves when everything begins to fall into place. Conjecture: This method arranges the corners relative to one another, and then the edge pieces. I imagine they have huge lists of lengthy sequences for swapping groups of pieces as needed. I’d love to know how they develop such sequences.

* Who out there remembers the show “That’s Incredible!”? You do? Then you are clearly an aging codger like me. One episode featured various champions racing to solve the cube, and I remember quite a few people did so in under twenty seconds.

Comments (3)

  1. dan says:

    This comment dates back to when you had a gambling problem. So that kid whom you bet for his rubiks cube back in highschool was he one of the retarded kids or something.
    Allow me to elaborate, lets say I had a rubiks cube I couldn’t solve and some guy says to me I bet I can solve it in 3 minutes or less and as payment all that person wants is the cube. That right there would send up a big red flag in my brain that says don’t bet this guy he loves rubiks cubes I will surely lose the bet he must know what he is doing. Now if the guy just wanted money as payment I think I would be more inclined to take the bet. my whole point is don’t ever feel bad for taking advantage of retarded people. They deserve what is coming at them.

  2. Shamus says:

    Actually, HE initiated the bet by saying something like, “Mine’s so scrambled, you’d NEVER be able to solve it.”

    He thought I could solve a not-too-messed-up cube, but his “extra scrambled” cube would be beyond me. He thought I was over-confident. He was just operating under some false assumptions, and I exploited that fact to gain the cube you see above.

    This would have been in ’91 or ’92, which means I was about your age when this happened.

    Stupid nostalgia.

  3. Namfoodle says:

    My younger siblings had cubes but couldn’t solve them. They would sometimes try to solve just one side. Sometimes they would have trouble doing even that.

    So they would move the stickers. To solve ONE side.

    Wait. You did what?

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