#### Back in the eighties

They were the times. Shoulder pads. Electronic music. The Death of Punk music. The Rubik's® Cube, snake puzzle, links puzzle, and others. Children got so good at the Cube that competitions were held, and are still held on a semi-regular basis today. In addition, several hundred books were written showing how you could solve the cube. One book that I read was written by a 12 year old, and is still the clearest explanation I've seen to date. I've also seen some good websites that describe cube solving methods, including this website.Then, they came out with other cubes. Cubes with pictures on instead of just simply colouring each side. Of course, this made the cube just that bit harder, as now you had to get the middle piece of each face oriented correctly with respect to the rest of the face. That was harder than simply putting a coloured face into place, in any one of four different directions. Then there were the little cubes that became keyrings. Too small to really do justice to the job of being a cube, they were a talking point for about 5 minutes, and were then discarded for serious 'cubing. I think mine fell apart about six months after.

Modern "twists" on the cube include Sudoku cubes, where not only do you have to get all nine numbers facing the right way, you've also got to make sure there's only one of each number on each face, just like a Sudoku puzzle, only there's six sides, you see. So it's more difficult. Then, there are cubes that got shrunk—such as the 2x2x2 Rubik's Mini shown on the left. And some cubes just got some grow juice—the 4x4x4 Rubik's Revenge, and biggest of all at 5x5x5, The Professor.

#### The biggest of all

I wrote about the other cubes I'd bought previously in my previous article all about Rubik's cubes back in June 2007. And I have an update. I've FINALLY managed to purchase The Professor. The Largest. The Meanest. The Ugliest. The Hardest Cube To Master. If you can master all the others, you'll probably do okay at this one. But if you gave up on the normal 3x3x3 Rubik's Cube when it came out in the eighties, then this one will send you running screaming for the hills. All ninety eight pieces to get right. Still only six sides, but might as well be twelve. Luckily, it was bought at the same store that I bought most of the other cubes from. And it wasn't much more expensive than the others, at only $34.95. So I now have the complete collection of cubes, with no more to buy.

I heard that someone actually came up with working prototypes of both a 6x6x6 cube and a 7x7x7 cube, but I seriously doubt that anyone will bring them to market any time soon. And don't even

*think*of trying to speed-cube with this monster. It's simply too fragile, and even the manufacturer doesn't guarantee the product against improper usage, stating on the base this disclaimer:

NOTICE: The 5x5 Rubik's Cube by its very nature has more moveable parts than the 3x3 Rubik's® Cube and is not recommended for “speed cubing.”. Be sure to align all rows before moving them and do not force pieces to twist or turn. Winning Moves Games can not be held responsible for damage due to improper use.And so we have it.

#### Gone to pieces

I'd hate to drop it and have it fall apart, as I have no idea how it's put together. Nor is there a reassembly diagram available from the Rubiks.com website, even though there are reassembly diagrams for every other size available. I also don't know how to solve this cube. Thankfully, there*is*a "booklet" that describes some ways of solving sides of the cube. I'll let you know how I go, if I can do it at all. For those that are interested, I found them mentioned for sale via Winning Games, at Amazon.com; for those of us in Christchurch (New Zealand), they're on sale at the Natures Discoveries shops, so they may also be in other places in the country.

#### Count them. Count them all, and despair

Again, thanks go to the providers of the related images from Wikipedia.org. It's probably the last time I'll waffle about cubes in this blog, though I imagine I'll have fun trying to do each of the cubes in turn. I've got the 2x2x2 down pat, just about. I can do the 3x3x3 with help from the webpage I pointed to above, as well as the 4x4x4. But frankly the Professor is going to be difficult.Mathematically, the number of unique combinations is somewhat more than the number of combinations of pieces that we can actually tell apart, at least for the 3x3x3 and 5x5x5. This is because the middle piece of the 3x3x3 face has four indistinguishable directions; the same applies for the 5x5x5 cube. Additionally, for the eight pieces surrounding the middle piece, the corners are all interchangable, and the sides are all interchangable as well, without us actually knowing the difference. One way of telling them all is to actually print a pattern up on sticky sheet in six colours, then stick

*those*to the cube faces. But then that makes your cube even harder to do. And it's already hard enough to do now, isn't it?

#### Update to post

Incidentally, paragraphs I forgot to add when writing this article before, about how to reassemble and solve the Cubes. Firstly, there are reassembly diagrams for all the Rubik's Cubes except for the Professor, up at the Rubiks.com website, though you may have to dig a little if these links no longer work.- Rubik's Cube (3x3x3) reassembly
- Rubik's Mini-Cube (2x2x2) reassembly page
- Rubik's Revenge (4x4x4).

Solution guides also exist for each of the cubes, try this link to find the free downloads or hunt around if it doesn't work. These are in PDF format, so that you can even print them off if you need. In addition, one good site I have found is here (www.waldsfe.org) and covers all four cube models I've mentioned here, though he mentions the Mini-cube in passing as being "all corners".

## 1 comment:

It seems I may have been premature in my dismissal of bringing big cubes to market, see this update for more details.

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