Tag Archives: challenge #30

Challenge #30 – completed!

4 Jan

In the dying hours of 2019, I completed the latest of my 40 Before 40 challenges. Okay, that is slightly over-dramatic. I completed it at about noon on the 31st December 2019 because I had the day off and I was feel guilty that I hadn’t really done anything productive. But I finally solved my Rubik’s cube.

I have tried it a few times in the past and got more and more frustrated with it. It seemed like I managed to get part of it completed but then ‘messed’ up another side that I had already completed. This time I sat down and and completed the whole thing in one sitting. If I ‘messed’ up parts that were finished, I took a deep breath and started again.

Back together again!

I probably sound like a genius but I’m not – I did use a guide to solve the cube that I found online. The chances of you winning the lottery is much, much more plausible that being able to solve it just by randomly turning the sides. In fact, it took Rubik (the Hungarian inventor of the puzzle) more than 6 months to solve it himself.

Even with instructions it was tricky and I had to concentrate to make sure I was doing the next step correctly. And there are certain steps that you need to do in order to complete it. First you need to start with getting a white cross in position and then getting the correct corner pieces in position. I didn’t know that the middle square in a 3×3 cube doesn’t move so that determines what ‘face’ it is. You can’t just complete the white face without the corner and edge pieces being in the right place.

A lot of the solving of the puzzle is based on algorithms. When you see people on TV solving them in a matter of seconds, they must have memorized all of the algorithms previously and then just move the pieces in accordance to the moves they have memorized. It took me ages longer than the person who has the world record for solving a Rubik’s cube (4.22 seconds in case you were wondering) but I did it. I can’t actually put into words how satisfying it was when I turned the side for one last time and realised that it was finished.

I had thought that this could be a party trick of mine. I could take a Rubik’s cube with me to parties to impress friends and family by magically solving the cube. Or even show strangers on the bus, after all it doesn’t take up that much room in my handbag. The reality is that I would probably produce the cube and then spend another hour sitting in a corner, swearing quietly to myself while everyone slowly loses interest. So my search for a part trick continues but there is one less challenge on my list…

Rubik’s Cube

6 Jun

Number 30 on my #40Before40 list is to complete a Rubik’s Cube. There were a number of reasons why I decided to do this.

  1. I have never properly attempted it before. As kids, my brother and I used to peel the stickers off the cube and rearrange them which ironically means that there is no way you can solve it.
  2. I do not know anyone personally who has completed it before
  3. It could be an interesting party trick
  4. I saw a TV programme where kids manage to do it in a few minutes –  so hard could it be?

The answer is, of course, very hard. These small kids on the TV made it look deciptively easy: just a few twists and turns and they were done. The reality is that it’s not so straight forward.

I learnt that it took Rubik’s himself more than a month to solve it after he had invented it and that the chances of just playing with the cube and being able to solve it are probably lower than you winning the next Euromillions jackpot. I am now thinking that it would have been better to have chosen something else easier to do. But if it’s on the list I have to do it.

When I started the challenge, I didn’t own a Rubik’s cube. It was when we were in Bolivia and I saw them on a market stall that I decided to take the plunge and buy one.

As evidence, I took a photo after I had bought it to show that it is possible to solve.

Here is the evidence that the cube was mixed up. I did it and then my boyfriend mixed it as well so that there was no way that I could remember how I had mixed it up myself.

What I didn’t realise is that there is a set of specific instructions that you need to do in order to solve the puzzle and the solution of the puzzle is based on algorithms.

The first thing that you need to do is to solve the white cross on the top of the cube. I didn’t realise that the middle square of the cube doesn’t move so if you try to solve the white cross on the side where a green square is in the middle, you will be doomed to fail.

Solving the cross was relatively easy and the thought crossed my mind that I would be finished within ten minutes. I was so wrong.

The next task is to put the white edge pieces in to complete the white face. Again I managed to do this without too much difficulty. This was turning out to be a walk in the park. It was only when I then tried to complete the next stage that I realised that the white corner pieces have to be solved in a particular order. You can’t just put the corners in wherever they will go because the colours on the other two sides have to correspond to the right face of the cube.

I then left this for a few weeks because I was a bit frustrated by the whole thing and it seemed impossible to put the corners in a specific order. I have now finally managed to solve the white cross and put the corners in the correct order.

Then next thing to do is to solve the middle layer. Now I am stuck. It seems that everything that I try to do ends up un-solving the white layer. In this stage you need to use more complex algorithms to solve it. Just twisting and turning won’t help solve anything unless you have the best luck in the world. And if you do have the best luck in the world, why aren’t you in a casino instead of playing with a Rubik’s cube?

So the current status is that the Rubik’s Cube is gathering dust on the coffee table, while I consider my next move, with a Post-It note attached to it saying “If you even thinkabout touching this, I will kill you.” My other half thinks I am joking but I don’t think I have ever been more serious about anything in my life.