"We turn the cube and it twists us."
May 19, 2014 8:21 AM   Subscribe

How much does it cost the economy, I wonder, in lost "productivity", when Google puts an interactive toy up on the page?
posted by thelonius at 8:23 AM on May 19, 2014

10 best-selling products of all time
10. Rubik's Cube
• Category: Toy
• Total sales: 350 million units
• Parent company: Seven Towns

The Rubik's Cube remains the top-selling single toy of all time with 350 million sold since 1980. The Rubik's Cube remains so popular that in the decades since its creation, it has spawned entire speed-cubing competitions. The toy still has a large fan base, among young and old. One developer even created an iPhone application that instructs users how to solve a Rubik's Cube in 20 moves. Unlike other best-selling toys, such as Monopoly and the Gumby Doll, the cube was not originally intended to be a toy. Its inventor, Hungarian architecture professor Erno Rubik, created it in 1974 as a way to teach his students three-dimensional geometry. The combined collections of Mattel's Barbie dolls and Hot Wheels have both outsold the Rubik's Cube, but none of them have as a single toy.
posted by kliuless at 8:32 AM on May 19, 2014 [1 favorite]

I can't solve these in real life, either.
posted by jeather at 8:36 AM on May 19, 2014 [5 favorites]

*throws computer against wall*

Just like the real thing.
posted by Fizz at 8:37 AM on May 19, 2014 [8 favorites]

I cheated by pulling the screen off my computer and sticking it back on so the tiles all match.
posted by arcticseal at 8:43 AM on May 19, 2014 [16 favorites]

Fuck. It's even harder online with non-intuitive commands.

Perfect timing. My self-esteem had been hovering around normal and I've been meaning to knock it down to -1000.
posted by dios at 8:46 AM on May 19, 2014 [3 favorites]

I'm able to solve a cube but I don't know that I could do the Google version. I learned a while back and practiced a lot but really it's muscle memory, I don't think I could do it with clicks of a mouse.

Anyone with a Lego Mindstorms NTX 2.0 set should build this. You don't need anything more than a single NTX set. You put a mixed up cube into it, it scans it with the color sensor, figures out a solution, and then solves it.

My son and I built it and it is freaking amazing to watch.
posted by bondcliff at 8:58 AM on May 19, 2014

You can solve it the hard way by going through this algorithm which moves the cube through every possible configuration exactly once and returns back to the beginning.

The earth will get swallowed by the sun before you finish though.
posted by empath at 9:05 AM on May 19, 2014 [3 favorites]

This brought up sad memories of my youth, in which I repeatedly failed to solve one of these things.

I do have a bizarre connection to the Rubik's Cube--my mother's stepfather designed the original packaging.
posted by thomas j wise at 9:16 AM on May 19, 2014 [5 favorites]

I always wanted there to be an super-advanced version of Hollywood Squares based on Rubik's Cube, with an enormous rotatable board and 26 C-list celebrities (9 each on the front/back faces, 8 in between) all strapped into gyroscopic seats. Did your opponent just block you with Joan Rivers? Well, just rotate Jm J Bullock back in to center square position for the win!
posted by Strange Interlude at 9:21 AM on May 19, 2014 [4 favorites]

If you're in the NJ-NYC area, the Liberty Science Center has a Rubik's cube show.
posted by armacy at 9:21 AM on May 19, 2014 [1 favorite]

Also, just summoned this memory back from cold storage: "My name is Ruuuuubik!"
posted by Strange Interlude at 9:23 AM on May 19, 2014

The Google Doodle Rubik's Cube is much better than the Atari 2600 version.
posted by Chinese Jet Pilot at 9:33 AM on May 19, 2014 [2 favorites]

Trivia Q: What does the number "43252003274489856000" have to do with Rubik's cube?


A: If you do any demonstrations on solving the cube on any kind of regular basis, it is the number of times you can expect hear the "One time I (my friend and I / my dad / etc) was playing around with it and it just came up solved but I couldn't remember how I did it but I solved it once" story.
posted by Wolfdog at 10:57 AM on May 19, 2014 [2 favorites]

I am not a speed-solver, but I can do it easily enough.
The mouse interface is awful for me, and I can't solve it that way.
Just found the keyboard controls:
The usual LRUDFB (plus shift) and XYZ for the whole cube and EMS for just the middle slices.
Back to work...

(and by work, I mean, not-work, as in the first comment)
posted by MtDewd at 11:38 AM on May 19, 2014

I'm not particularly good at puzzles (I can only reliably get through Wednesday on the NY Times Crossword) nor am I mechanically inclined. So when I was a kid not only could I not legitimately solve a Rubik's Cube, I couldn't even do the cheat where you take the thing apart cube by cube and put it back together to pretend you solved it yourself.

The only method I had to "solve" the thing was to actually peel off all of the colored stickers and then stick them on again - rips, tears, imperfect alignment and all. I realize now I probably wasn't fooling as many people as I comforted myself with at the time.
posted by The Gooch at 11:58 AM on May 19, 2014

I never did derive the solution myself, got a little past 2/3 of the way there and stalled out on figuring out how to flip the last few corners without screwing up what I did previously. Too stubborn to read the solution though, maybe I should try again now that I'm older.

There is a 4D version online if the 3D isn't hard enough for you.

Of course, the 5D version is the real challenge. That headache is just Cthullu tickling your medulla, keep going until you smell a grayish D♭.
posted by BrotherCaine at 12:25 PM on May 19, 2014 [1 favorite]

OK- 413 moves, 66:19
Not as fast as Jake, though...
posted by MtDewd at 12:35 PM on May 19, 2014

I do have a bizarre connection to the Rubik's Cube--my mother's stepfather designed the original packaging.
posted by thomas j wise at 11:16 AM on May 19

So a wise person designed the packaging on the best-selling toy of all time.
posted by goethean at 12:44 PM on May 19, 2014

Some theme music for your puzzle solving: Drexciya - Rubick's Cube
posted by Uncle Ira at 3:23 PM on May 19, 2014 [1 favorite]

I don't understand all you people who pulled the stickers off to solve it. Arm I the only one who pried it apart and then reassembled it? Do a 1/8th turn, then pop the middle piece out...
posted by caution live frogs at 7:11 PM on May 19, 2014 [3 favorites]

I never solved the Rubik's Cube (I think I got four sides once), alas. I got over it. I will say that the whole process of how Prof. Rubik patented and then became somewhat wealthy from his invention was an introduction for myself of the hidden complexities behind the Iron Curtain.

I was also more interested in how it was engineered so taking it apart and putting it back together was fascinating itself quite aside from the presumed objective of pretending to have solved it.
posted by dhartung at 9:58 PM on May 19, 2014

Also having trouble not relying on the muscle memory of holding an actual cube. Even with a real cube, I can mostly only solve it on autopilot. If I stop to think about it too much, I always mess it up.

What's amazing is considering with the massive number of cubes sold over 40 years, most people still have no idea how to solve it, and are still impressed to see it done.
posted by billyfleetwood at 2:40 AM on May 20, 2014

Got it down to 175 moves and 10:51.
Then some serious action:
Noticed that the cube is always scrambled the same way, so went to Herbert Kociemba's web pages, and used that to get the optimal solve. Then translated that to the Google page.

Solution- When the cube pops up, right click the white space to the upper right of the cube 4 times (to activate the keyboard and return to the starting position). Then enter:
L F b uu ll d B r d L U D F ll U r
(spaces for clarity)
19 moves. (Or 16 if you count half-turns)
posted by MtDewd at 6:21 AM on May 20, 2014 [4 favorites]

Re-translated for a single click and barcoded the keyboard entry. (CTRL-V doesn't work)
11 seconds.
posted by MtDewd at 4:36 AM on May 22, 2014

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