Google honors Rubik’s cube; solve it yourself and win encomiums

May 19, 2014 • 4:29 pm

We all know about this one, and I bet some of you are experts. (I am lousy at stuff like this and never solved my only cube.) Today’s Google Doodle celebrates the 40th anniversary of the famous cube invented by Hungarian Erno Rubik, whose name will linger in history longer than any of ours. If you go to the page, and I guess you’d better go soon, you’ll see this, and it will whirl around when you click on it. When it gets big, you can go ahead and solve it. The first reader who does, and sends me a photo, will be honored on this post. (Sorry, no free books or mugs today.)

As Forbes notes:

According to Wired, Google was finally able to create their most sophisticated Doodle yet thanks to the widespread adoption of CSS 3-D Transforms on most web browsers.

“CSS 3-D Transforms lets us display the cube in a 3-D space, as opposed to having a sort of rasterized 2-D experience,” lead engineer Kristopher Hom told the publication. “It makes it feel alive, because as you’re moving your mouse, you can see the cube rotating in 3-D space.”

Here’s  a screenshot of what you’ll see, but click here to solve the puzzle—if you can:

Screen shot 2014-05-19 at 6.21.20 PM

A few more salient facts:

[The invention] was in 1974, in Soviet-controlled Hungary. The architect eventually managed to license the cube to Ideal Toy Corp in 1980. It was originally called the Magic Cube, but was rebranded with the more memorable name we have now.

Since then it’s sold over 350 million units, making it the best-selling toy ever, though it’s not as popular as it once was. The world record for solving the Rubik’s Cube is held by Mats Valk, a Dutch teenager who managed to complete the cube in just 5.55 seconds.

The LEGO Mindstorms-built Cubestormer III robot—powered by a Galaxy S4 smartphone—solved the cube in just 3.25 seconds.


UPDATE: Reader Alan R. (see below) solved it; the proof and time taken are below. If you can best it, send me proof.

Screen shot 2014-05-19 at 7.58.28 PM

 Reader Joseph G. sent me a better time this a.m.:

Cube 2


13 thoughts on “Google honors Rubik’s cube; solve it yourself and win encomiums

  1. I didn’t know it was going to be a competition! I had to go to two meeting in the middle of that. OK, fine I’ll do it again faster this time. 🙂


    1. No joke. That, and the Cube is such a tactile thing. I’m pretty sure it wouldn’t take me too terribly long to solve a real one, but I got fed up with the online one when I was about 3/4 done. Just too much effort to flip it around to see what’s where, and then flip it back to perform the moves, and so on.

      Still, it’s quite impressive that Google managed to do it all with CSS!


  2. I got a cube again a few years ago. It took me several weeks to remember how to do it again, but I got my average time back down into the 3 minute range, when I was down to about 2m15s when I was at school.
    I didn’t think to try doing the Google puzzle, and now it’s gone. But 225 minutes is a triumph of perseverance over interface.

    1. Me too. Eventually my two cubes I owned essentially crumbled as pieces had been so often physically torn out in frustration.

      1. Something not everybody is aware of is that it’s possible to put the Cube into an unsolvable state be disassembling it and reassembling it differently (or by peeling off and reapplying the stickers).

        And, in a similar vein, the center squares have independent rotations, which means there are multiple orientations and configurations for the all-solid “solved” state. If you’ve ever worked with a novelty cube (such as the one with fruit stickers that I may or may not still have stashed in a closet somewhere), that becomes very apparent the first time you solve it…and the center squares are all pointing the worng way….


  3. I still have my original cube from 1984. It has been 30 years now and I am still trying to solve the darn thing without looking at a “how to manual”. It is easy enough to solve a layer, that only took me a few hours or so to figure out back in 1984.

    I then figured out how to correctly solve the eight corners all those years ago, but I then put it down and now can not remember how to solve the corners.

    I think I will get a 2 by 2 layer mini Rubik’s mini cube to remember how to solve the corners. One can also buy a 2 by 3 by 3 layer cube so one can reason out in stages how to solve the three by three by three cube.

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