As a child of the 80s, I remember when Rubiks’ Cubes were all the rage – and I also remember when they became something nerds did, and then when they became cool again because I am old.
It’s fascinating to watch people solve them in like, 10 seconds flat, and so I got to wondering how many other interesting things there were to learn.
Here are 8 facts about the fun little toy that you might never have known until now!
8. We will probably never solve it faster than a robot.
In 2014, engineers David Gilday and Mike Dobson constructed a robot from LEGO and a Samsung cell phone and, on its first try, it solved the Rubik’s Cube in 3.253 seconds.
That’s nowhere near the fastest, though – two Kansas City Cube experts have a device that first solved it at 1.2 seconds (though their own personal best, they say, is .900 seconds).
7. It was originally called the Magic Cube.
Erno Rubik was a Hungarian professor of architecture in 1974 when he had the idea for the handheld puzzle. He hoped the geometry-base toy would help students understand spatial relations, and the first prototypes were made from wood blocks and paper clips.
Once he paired up with a toymaker, it was called the Magic Cube. By 1980 the toy was licensed by the Ideal Toy Company, who changed the name.
The reason? They thought “Magic Cube” invoked ideas about witchcraft.
6. The world record (with hands) is less than 5 seconds.
14-year-old Lucas Etter holds the world record time of 4.90 seconds, set in November 2015.
Jacob Kipa can solve it in 20.57 seconds using his feet.
5. There are 43 quintillion possible combinations.
The Rubik’s Cube has six sides, each with nine blocks of a single color, which leads to 43 quintillion potential configurations.
I didn’t do the math myself, and also I’ve never solved a Rubik’s Cube. Those things might be related.
4. It’s been solved blindfolded.
Seven-year-old (yes, you read that right) Chan Hong Lik solved the Rubik’s Cube blindfolded after taking a few minutes to memorize the placement of the squares, then covering his eyes.
And he did it in just a few minutes.
3. Kids are basically the experts.
When the Rubik’s Cube first hit the scene in the 80s, kids were desperate to look super smart in front of their classmates (I know, it was a different time). Enter twelve-year-old Patrick Bossert, who wrote a how-to book for his friends that ended up in the hands of an editor at Penguin.
You Can Do the Cube ended up selling more than 750,000 copies.
2. They were once a danger to your health.
In 1982, English health officials found that the plastic discs affixed to the squares contained unsafe levels of lead.
The biggest danger were the yellow discs, which were shown to contain at least 26,250 parts per million when the allowed amount was only 2500.
As if nerd kids didn’t have enough troubles.
1. There used to be an animated series.
There was a full season on ABC, somehow, of Rubik, the Amazing Cube. 13 episodes aired on Saturday mornings in 1983. The Cube had legs, a face, and magical abilities, and even Menudo did their part, performing the title song.
I have no idea why there was no season 2!
I honestly think these are so interesting, don’t you?
Tell us down in the comments which one surprised you the most!