The Magic of
Rubik’s Cube
Karen Gillispie
The Magic of the Cube
Ancient Greeks considered cube one of
special Platonic solids
Six faces; each of nine squares on
every side is one of six colors
Fastest selling toy in world history
Amusing to children; frustrating for
Father of the Cube
Erno Rubik --1974
Birth of the Cube
Rubik applied for patent--1975
Production in Budapest
Tibor Laczi introduces Ideal Toys to
1984--Federal court rules Rubik’s Cube
infringes on Nichol’s patent
Similar Cubes of the 1970’s
–applied for Japanese patent
–same mechanism as Cube
Larry Nichols
–patents 2 X 2 X 2
–rejected repeatedly
–cube held together with magnets
The world is stumped...
Mathematicians search for “God’s
 Clubs, contests, races, championships
 Books, magazines
 “Cube smasher”
 Television fame
Solving the Cube
Rubik needed three months to solve
Random twists and turns
–3^8 x 2^12 x 8! x 12! conceivable
–one cube solved every three centuries
Sequence of steps
–reduces to 80-120 twists
Solutions and Related Notations
Notation of each side based on
orientation to you
– front (F), back (B), right (R), left (L), up (U),
and down (D)
Notation for turns
– clockwise (), counterclockwise (‘), and halfturn (“)
– R --clockwise quarter turn of right face
– F” --half-turn of front face
– B’ --counterclockwise quarter turn of back
To get this
from this
– you simply use F’U’F.
To get this
from this
– you simply use FRUR’U’RUR’U’RUR’U’F’
Using similar sequences will solve the
entire puzzle
“We turn the Cube and it
twists us.” --Rubik
Winning Way for Your Mathematical Plays. Volume
2: Games in Particular. Berlekamp, Elwin; Conway,
John; Guy, Richard. Copyright 1982. Academic
Press: New York.
Discover. The Perplexing Life of Erno Rubik. March
1986. v7. p81. Copyright Family Media Inc. 1986.

The Magic of Rubik