Monday, January 19, 2009

Ruby Ruby Ruby!

Ok, that titled could mean anything! A girl named Ruby? My friends son called Reuben who's nickname is Ruby? The Kaiser Chiefs?...whats want to tell us about a Rubik's Cube!


I have seen them during my lifetime, have tried twisting and turning them around to no avail but no desire to actually sit down and figure them out either. About the last week of school a student of mine brought one in, and when he left it at school over night I grabbed it and messed around with it failing by epic proportions. Then it clicked. YouTube.

I got found this person called Dan Brown (no, not Da Vinci Code guy) who had made an amazing tutorial on how to do the rubik's cube in a very easy way, the 'Layer by Layer' method. It took me about a day to memorize all the algorithms. Then I went and bought one and tried to solve the cube as fast as I could and got to about 1 minute and 34 seconds. However as I have learnt now that I had no real understanding of the rubik's cube, to really understand it you have to look at each piece as it moves, don't just look at the piece you are moving, but look at the piece you are moving away (where does it go?).

I went to my friends (Shaun, Daz and Koray) house during the holiday and practically got them all into learning how to solve the cube (later on my girl wanted to learn too). Koray latched onto the cube as much as I did and we both would take our cubes when we went out and solved the cube over and over again.  We went to Raglan with another bunch of mates. When we met up with one of our friends called Chris there, we asked him about the cube because earlier before, David (Chris' older brother) told me that Chris had learnt to solve the cube himself. Koray and I found out that Chris had figured out the cube in much the same way Dan Brown did except he used another way to solve the top (for all you cubers out there, instead of solving the cross first on the 3rd layer, Chris solved the corners first) and it turned out to be a lot quicker.

About 2 weeks later Daz bought Koray a 4x4x4 and 5x5x5 rubik's cube. Not only did they look very daunting to our untrained eyes but they also looked like a new challenge. Because Koray and I both essentially learnt the cube off the internet we were determined to try and solve either the 4x4x4 or 5x5x5 cubes by ourselves. Long story short, we failed (like duh, obviously). I only had a few hours to try it but I really got no where, this is because I had and still don't really have a good understand of the logistics of the cube.

I then had to go back to Wellington and I didn't have a cube other than my 3x3x3. So i decided I would learn how to solve the rubik's cube another way. I knew that there was a method in which you started from a corner and went from there (instead of the layer by layer method). So i looked it up (YouTube) and found out it was called the Petrus method and learnt to do it via a guy called Hobie. Hobie's video was not good as Dan Browns (no disrespect). The reason for this is Dan Brown actually embedded the codes/algorithms onto his videos, you could pause at certain points to  try and do it yourself. With that said, Hobie's video was the best Petrus method video because he did his video's in many parts with a specific point in each video. Also the clarity (both visually and instructionally) were better than the others. 

I found that the petrus method was a lot harder than the vanilla layer by layer method because I have to 'find' the right pieces at certain points, whereas the vanilla method you could go with the flow, solving each piece that is 'solvable' at any given time. But in conclusion the Petrus Method taught me way more about the cube itself because the Petrus Method limits your movements. Hobie talked about 2 or 3 degrees of freedom (because you can only move 2 or 3 of the 6 faces).

After doing all this I don't think I could solve either the 4x4x4 or 5x5x5 with any degree of success but I sure will give it a try when I get my hands on one. A video for fail blog perhaps?

Thanks Dan and Hobie. You've changed my life!

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