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A Fond Remembrance Of The Rubik's Cube

May 25, 2008
I used to have a Rubik's Cube when I was younger. The damn thing nearly drove me up the wall. In the end, I did manage to work out the fastest way of solving it. I'd just peel all the stickers off and place them on the right sides. Either that or, with one good twist, it was possible to unclip all the sides and reassemble the cube in finished form. There was nothing in the instructions to suggest this was against the rules, and personally, I considered it a demonstration of my genius - thinking outside the box, or, in this case, cube.

Apparently there are over 43 quintillion combinations of the cube. You don't tend to come across the word quintillion very often - it's such a big number. It's the number 43 with eighteen zeros after it. That certainly is a lot of zeros, and a lot of combinations. The fact that the best solvers can finish the cube in under twenty seconds, and that the youngest champion was only three years old and could solve it in about thirty seconds does little to diminish my self assertion of genius status.

Although it was invented in 1974 by Erno Rubik, a professor working in Hungary, it wasn't released until six years later, in 1980. Since then over 300 million of them have been sold. I couldn't find any statistics to suggest how many had been burned, buried, ripped apart or ceremoniously destroyed in other, more imaginative ways. Quite a few, I'm sure.

But it just goes to show that very often it is the simplest ideas which become the classic toys that last for many years. Like the Slinkys. You remember them? Long coils of wire. That's all they were. Children around the world, myself included, hankered after these long coils of wire. If you got them balanced just right they'd trickle downstairs like a waterfall. That's about all they did, but they held a fascination amongst children for at least two days. That's roughly how long they lasted before they became inextricably tangled and became a more challenging puzzle to unravel than the Rubik's Cube. I suspected that the Slinky was just another puzzle set to challenge dexterity and patience.

There have been an incredible number of off shoots from these classic puzzles - Rubik's Spheres, mini-Slinkys and so forth, although nothing ever quite matches the original. You know a toy has reached classic status when you find key rings with mini Rubik's Cubes attached.

You can't deny the merits, at least for a while, of such puzzles. The dexterity and coordination, planning and strategizing that is required is like playing chess. Children in playgrounds across the country started challenging each other to solve the cube faster, and for a while it was cool to be the nerd who could beat anyone else. Today, most puzzles seem to be of the digital variety, and whilst the brain challenges might be harder, the physical dexterity which was combined with these skills is less required. Today, children emerge from these puzzles with challenged brains, and carpel Tunnel Syndrome, rather than the fabled Rubik's Wrist of the eighties.
About the Author
Victor Epand is an expert consultant about kids toys, dolls, and video games. You will find the best marketplace for kids toys, dolls, and used video games at these sites for kids toys, Rubik's Cube, Puzzles, dolls, and used video games.
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