Rediscovering the Cube

Like many other kids of the day, I learned how to solve the Rubik's Cube in the summer of 1981. Somehow, this knowledge came full circle this past week.

I learned how to do it while working at camp. My friends and I would mix it up and solve it time after time after time and the algorithm was so ingrained in our heads that we would often do the moves with our eyes closed after orienting the cube properly. We worked on full size cubes and the miniature keychain cubes. It got rather out of control. :-)

Although I brought this knowledge home with me, it eventually faded while I was in college and focused on other things.

So what does that have to do with today? I'm glad you asked. Some friends of ours had a cube in their house and Thing 2 pulled the stickers off of it one day so we bought them a replacement for Christmas. Unbeknownst to me, SWMBO bought me one as well. I was able to solve it by following the moves in the booklet that came with it, but I couldn't remember how I used to do it.

Actually, that's not exactly true. I remembered the mnemonics (which, I suppose, is the point of them) for different moves, but I couldn't remember what those moves did or how the cube needed to be oriented to achieve the desired effect. Google gave me lots of pages with solutions, but they didn't help me. See, the method used by most people is to solve the top two layers first and then the bottom. The method I learned involved solving the top, then the bottom, and then the middle layers edges. While I eventually did find one site that (I think) uses the same method, I never looked at it in much detail.

I was playing around with it one night last week and got it to a somewhat familiar point. I tried one of the moves I knew and, lo and behold, the pieces fell into place like magic! Something went ~*CLICK*~ in my head (I'm seeing a doctor for it next week...) and I knew what to do next. I ran through another sequence of moves from my memory (ok - I had to do it twice) and, voila, the bottom was solved. After that, the middle was trivial.

While there was obviously some luck involved in that instance, it triggered some long lost memories and I can now solve the cube regularly. I'm still rediscovering the right orientation of the pieces before the moves, but I think I've just about got that worked out.

Now I need to go for speed again. My personal record was about 45 seconds, but that was one where things fell into place easily and I didn't have to do any of the sequences more than once, if at all. I was able to routinely solve it in about 1:15 or so.

So, for an old guy, that's not too bad. My youth hasn't totally left me. And the best benefit, my kids are highly impressed. :-)

Re: Rediscovering the Cube

Fun! I've also enjoyed playing with the cube, but can't quite remember how to solve it consistently. In reading and googling, I found that generally the fastest technique for solving the cube is to orient the corners and then fix the middle. That sounds like what you're describing. If you find a good site describing that technique, I'd be glad to hear about it. Tim

Re: Rediscovering the Cube

<a href="">This site</a> demonstrates the method I use for solving the cube. While the moves are the same, I use some mnemonics that involve congressional races and vacations. If you'd like me to explain those to you someday, just let me know.