Speed solving the Rubik’s Cube using only one hand.

Remember the Rubik’s Cube? The little plastic cube made up of smaller blocks that if you were particularly clever you could arrange in such a way that each side showed a solid color. Remember that damnable thing?

I do. I was never able to solve it in the conventional way. I had to make use of a hammer to disassemble it so I could put it back together properly and then I never allowed anyone to ever touch it again lest they jumble the colors up once more. Some of my friends said this was cheating, but I argued I was thinking outside the box… so to speak. It’s disheartening enough to realize that there are people out there for whom solving a Rubik’s Cube isn’t particularly challenging and even more so that there are some who can do it in a ridiculous short period of time.

Then there’s this guy:

That’s Dan Dzoan setting a world record for solving a Rubik’s Cube in a mere 17.9 seconds… using only ONE FRIGGIN’ HAND! He did this at the Caltech 2007 Winter Competition back in January. I am officially stunned by his ability to effortlessly solve a puzzle I can’t even begin to imagine how to solve with one hand almost literally tied behind his back. I want to hate him, but I’m too busy picking my jaw up off the floor to manage it.

10 thoughts on “Speed solving the Rubik’s Cube using only one hand.

  1. That’s exactly how I always solved it, though I never used a hammer to get it apart… I just pried at a corner untl I got it off.

    To solve it the conventional way you “just” need to know some rules as to which transformations will swap each type of pair of locations. Then some general strategy will do the rest. For you mathies out there, these transformations can be represented as group actions. Way cool.

  2. I taught myself how to solve a cube. I was never very good at it, but I could do it. There are pages out there if you’re interested.

  3. That’s pretty damn impressive.

    Believe it or not, it was actually my youngest brother who taught me how to solve the Rubik’s Cube three years ago. I had yearned for the ability to master the task for years, but for whatever reason I was never able to figure it out on my own.

  4. When Middle Son was 7 years old, I had him with me at a meeting.  He had promised to be really good, he had a little bag of toys and a book to keep him occupied.
    There was a Rubik’s cube sitting on a table in the corner, and he asked if he could work with it.

    The hostess answered yes, and we grownups didn’t hear from him the whole time we were busy.
    As we were finishing up, my son walked over to the hostess and showed her the cube with all sides having their colors complete.
    “Is This how it is supposed to look?” he asked.

    Seven adult jaws dropped open in amazement.

    The kid has now earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Mathematical Research with a 3.16 gpa (while working 40 hours a week) and has been accepted into three PhD programs (pretty much skipping a Master’s).

    Some brains do work differently.
    The rest of us can only stand and cheer them on.

  5. There is another way to solve the rubiks cube – melt the glue with a hairdryer and rearrange the stickers.

    Things like solving the rubiks cube depend on having a virtually photographic memory in addition to problem solving. These are very specific abilities and is not a general measure of intelligence. Indeed I believe that there is no real measure because there are so many components and complicating (environmental) factors that casts doubt on the true validity of all methods.

    I’m not even convinced that as a concept inteligence actually exists (as commonly thought at least)- if you break it down to individual skills then ability in those might be dependant entirely on conditions (such as frame of mind and what you’ve experienced) and how much time you have dedicated. How much you choose to dedicate is based on frame of mind. You could say that animals are wired differently from each other even within the same species, but brain wiring changes with environmental input and lack in one area means redistribution to another – people who lose a sense often gain in others, and brain damaged people can have improved skills. Nobody really fully taps into their skills because conditions are such that it may be impossible and you may be disinclined to (a kind of self inhibition). This topic becomes unsolvable if the mind had an extra aspect in another dimension as we have no way of studying that, but if it were so there would need to be a link of sorts for it to affect our minds and hence the physical world, if so that is what needs to be explained if we make the assumption that physical laws are obeyed when we’re not looking.

  6. Things like solving the rubiks cube depend on having a virtually photographic memory in addition to problem solving.

    No photographic memory is necessary.  You “just” have to memorize algorithms for performing various actions.  There are slow, clunky ways of doing it (like the one I fumbled around with) and elegant, faster ways.

    The trick is to develop a good set of algorithms that enable you to get it done quickly.  No one (as far as I know) has “God’s Algorithm” yet- the method which will always solve the Cube in the minimum number of moves, which is known to be seventeen for the most disordered state.

    In any case, solving the Cube in 17.9 seconds with one hand is pretty amazing.

  7. There is another way to solve the rubiks cube – melt the glue with a hairdryer and rearrange the stickers.

    I never had to melt the glue. I was always able to just pry the stickers right off. Never thought of taking a hammer to it for that would require figuring how to put the pieces back together.

  8. Another thing I’ve tried is re-colouring in the stickers with felt tips, but that didn’t go so well

  9. Goth Rubic Cube- pry all the stickers off, leaving all sides black, then don’t ‘mix it up’- saying you cant be bothered with such fripperies.

    How to annoy poseurs who boast of doing it in x seconds.

    Take it to pieces- a half turn of the top layer (so it’s misaligned) followed by pressure with a vertical is less like to break it than the hammer method.
    Reassemble ‘completed’ EXCEPT one corner– whic is ‘wrong’ -ie red where the blue should be, blue on white side, white on red side.
    Mix it up- to hide your crime.

    It is now impossible to do correctly.( the blocks dont rotate in place so there is no algorythm to do get to the solution, as every twist affects 8 blocks not one.

  10. How to annoy poseurs who boast of doing it in x seconds.

    Hussar, while this method might work with amateur poseurs, anyone capable of attaining competitive speeds would notice fairly quickly that the Cube is in a tampered state.  Of course, such people are not really poseurs anymore, even if they’re still annoying.

    Another piece of conceptual art sometimes performed in the Cube’s heyday: buy six cubes, pry off the stickers, and reattach to make six solid-color Cubes.  These Cubes would be either impossible to solve, or always solved, depending on how you looked at it.

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