Researching about one of the world’s most absorbing and mind boggling puzzles, Rubik Cube takes us back to 1974 when an unassuming Hungarian architecture professor named Erno Rubik invented it. Rubik Cube is basically a 3D combination puzzle in which the six faces of the cube are covered by nine stickers, each of which is of one of the solid colours: red, white, blue, green, orange and yellow. The puzzle is considered to be solved when each face of the cube has all the nine squares of a single colour on it. It can again be distorted by turning the each small cube independently which shoos away the uniformity by enabling the squares of different colours to be present randomly on any face of the cube.
The inventor surprised everyone by admitting that when he created it, he did not know a way to arrive at a solution. Mathematically speaking, there are 43,252,003,274,489,856,000 ways of arranging the squares but there is just one single way of arranging them correctly.
Erno Rubik however, after weeks of consistent efforts and exasperation, finally solved it and later in one of his interviews with the media remarked that he was overcome by “a great sense of accomplishment and utter relief.” Since then, more than 350 million Rubik Cubes have been sold worldwide and it has successfully become the most enduring and maddening puzzle that has ever been created.
It has caught attention of various logic thinkers, computer programmers, mathematicians and artists globally. More than hundreds of books about the puzzle-solving techniques have been published over the period of almost five decades. They aim to promise cube design analysis, speed-solving strategies, and exploring the philosophical significance behind them.
If you are curious, you’ll find the puzzles around you. If you are determined, you will solve them.
Yet the journey and the experiences in the words of the inventor himself have been much anticipated. The publicity-averse man behind the widely popular Rubik’s cube has remained a mystery for a very long time. Erin Rubik has finally met this popular demand by penning down his book ‘Cubed.’ In one of his Skype interviews from his home in Budapest, he mentioned that he did not want to write an autobiography because he had little or no interest in his life or sharing his life. He indeed wrote the book to understand how the cube functions and why does it function that way in a better manner. Mr. Rubik is 76 years old and he inhabits in Budapest. He is believed to be convivial and animated due to his jolly nature.
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Erno stated that while writing the book, he had witnessed the evolution in his understanding of his own invention. Various interviewers have reported that he talks about the cube as his child. The cube has grown up with him so he claims to know a lot about it. Rubik even said that during the course of understanding the nature of the cube, he was not really interested in the nature of the cube but rather in the nature of people, how the cube signified it and also the relationship between the people and the cube.
To everyone’s surprise, Rubik revealed that he did not want the book to be divided into chapters or to even bear a title. Reading ‘Cubed’ can be a disorienting and bizarre experience since it lacks an evident narrative structure or an arc. This Rubik confirms that, has been done deliberately.
The author of the book had several ideas he said. So he presented a conglomeration of the ideas and left it to the readers to pick up the most valuable ones for them. The reader is free to pick up from the last or the middle and then define his own beginning. The book contains the account of how he created the cube for the very first time. He tells that one day, out of the blue, he put eight cubes in such a way that they stuck together but were able to move around and could exchange places. Those cubes were made out of wood and Erno drilled holes into them so that they could be linked. After putting in a plethora of efforts, he came up with a paradoxical cube which was solid but also qualified as a fluid.
He further added colors to the squares so that the movement of the cubes could be tracked. Then, he began twisting and turning it until he arrived at a situation where he could not go back, i.e. the cube could not be taken back to its initial state. He writes in his book that “there was no way back.”
It was then he spent months to crack the puzzle to restore the cube to its original form. He indeed secluded himself and devoted all his time to the cube. When he finally succeeded, he submitted the application of a three-dimensional logical toy at the Hungarian Patent office. This is how Rubik Cube was born and then spread over the world map as it attracted all sorts of puzzle solvers. The sales of the cube shot up tremendously. In the three years after it came out, about 100 million cubes were sold in the entire world. Soon, it made to the list of the best-selling toys.
This fame unexpectedly gave birth to a lot of rumours about its inventor. He was assumed to be the richest man in the country and also guesses were made that he had lost all his fortunes, neither of which were true, Erno confirms in his book. Rubik also writes that “The cube loves attention; I don’t. He is eager to interact with everyone; I sometimes find this a bit difficult. He’s quite ambitious; I am less so.”
Since its birth till now, the cube has faced several challenges, be it the mystery behind its father or the falling craze in the 1990s. Fortunately, the cube has been able to get through them all. The story of the cube is not just inspiring but it also makes one think about the trials life throws at us. What we need to do in such a case? Well, just consider it a puzzle and find a way out of the maze!
“Our whole life is solving puzzles.”