My Rubik’s Challenge


Skydive, swim with dolphins, run a marathon, ride an elephant, go scuba diving, learn to surf, go parasailing, get a tattoo. These are just some of the items listed as the top 20 things to have on your bucket list. Not me though. Mine is much more pedestrian, and far more geeky. For example, here are the first 5 listings.

  • Solve a Rubik’s cube
  • Create a 2D platform game
  • Try astrophotography
  • Write a sci-fi short story
  • Watch a live a rocket launch

Looking down the list I though it’d be best to start with something hopefully not too difficult: Item #1 – solve a Rubik’s cube.

A quick YouTube search yielded tons of results on the countless different methods but the best I found was the official Rubik’s cube solving guide. What surprised me is that to solve a cube you don’t need to be a mastermind. You don’t need to spend every waking moment practising for months on end and slowly losing touch with your friends and family. You just need to know some algorithms (usually about 8-10), which you can use for many different situations. In fact to solve the Rubik’s cube you basically have to think like a computer program.

IF (situation-a) THEN (algorithm-1)

ELSEIF (situation-b) THEN (algorithm-2)

ELSE  (algorithm-3)

Once you learn which algorithms fit with which situations then it’s really just a matter of practice so you can solve it without having to look up all the information for every step. Before you know it, you start to solve the cube without really thinking.

Of course, there is a disclaimer here. To become a master cuber (such as the people who solve it in under 20 seconds or even blindfolded) then instead of memorizing a few algorithms you need to memorize around 120. This means you know the optimal solution for any permutation of the cube. Luckily for me, achieving this level of skill is something that’s definitely not on my bucket list.