What is this thing?

The Rubik's Cube was invented by a Hungarian sculptor and architecture professor named Ernő Rubik in 1974. As of January 2009, there have been over 350 million puzzles sold worldwide, and it is regarded as one of the best-selling toys of all time.

Each classic 3x3x3 cube has each of its six faces covered by nine stickers of varying colors including white, red, blue, yellow, green and orange. A center pivot mechanism allows each part to turn independently of the others, which mixes the colors. Each individual square is referred to as a "cubie," as noted in the diagram provided. Since its creation, variations of the original design have been patented, including models with as many layers as a 7x7x7.

Dissassembled Rubik's CubeDiagram


Simply solving a cube isn't enough for some, which led to the development of speedcubing and competitions for people to compete to solve the puzzles in the quickest time. As a community within the World Cube Association (WCA), many collaborate to develop new methods, perfect their technique and engage with others who share a common interest. Many variations of solving have evolved from this practice including solving puzzles blindfolded, one-handed or using only feet. The first world championship was held in Budapest in 1982 and there have been four more since.

Although the fad had begun to die down in the 1980s, the widespread popularity of the Internet gave way to people sharing their ideas and methods, creating an ever-growing online community.

Fast Facts:

bulletpoint The fastest recorded time for a 3x3x3 in competition is 6.65 seconds by Feliks Zemdegs at the Melbourne Summer Open in 2011.
bulletpoint Many speedcubers lubricate their cubes to avoid wrist and finger injuries. It also allows the puzzle to be easily manipulated.
bulletpoint Methods used in speedcubing include the CFOP system, the Petrus Method, the Roux Method, the Corners-first and many others.
bulletpoint There is a permanent exhibit dedicated to the Rubik's Cube in the Museum of Modern Art in New York City.