William Wissemann was raised in Hastings-on-Hudson, N.Y. A freshman at Bard College, he is studying economics, computer science and photography. When not at school, Wissemann lives with his mother and younger sister. Courtesy William Wissemann hide caption
William Wissemann was raised in Hastings-on-Hudson, N.Y. A freshman at Bard College, he is studying economics, computer science and photography. When not at school, Wissemann lives with his mother and younger sister.Courtesy William Wissemann
Wissemann's contemporaries look on as he demonstrates his Rubik's Cube skills. Courtesy William Wissemann hide caption
Wissemann's contemporaries look on as he demonstrates his Rubik's Cube skills.Courtesy William Wissemann
I carry a Rubik's Cube in my backpack. Solving it quickly is a terrific conversation starter and surprisingly impressive to girls. I've been asked to solve the cube on the New York City subway, at a track meet in Westchester and at a café in Paris.
I usually ask people to try it first. They turn the cube over in their hands, half-heartedly they make a few moves and then sheepishly hand it back. They don't even know where to begin. That's exactly what it was like for me to learn how to read. Letters and words were scrambled and out of sequence. Nothing made sense because I'm dyslexic.
Solving the Rubik's Cube has made me believe that sometimes you have to take a few steps back to move forward. This was a mirror of my own life when I had to leave public school after the fourth grade. It's embarrassing to admit, but I still couldn't consistently spell my full name correctly.
As a fifth-grader at a new school that specialized in what's called language-processing disorder, I had to start over. Memorizing symbols for letters, I learned the pieces of the puzzle of language, the phonemes that make up words. I spent the next four years learning how to learn and finding strategies that allowed me to return to my district's high school with the ability to communicate my ideas and express my intelligence.
It took me four weeks to teach myself to solve the cube — the same amount of time it took the inventor, Erno Rubik. Now, I can easily solve the 3x3x3, and the the 4x4x4, and the Professor's Cube, the 5x5x5. I discovered that just before it's solved, a problem can look like a mess, and then suddenly you can find the solution. I believe that progress comes in unexpected leaps.
Early in my Rubik's career, I became so frustrated that I took the cube apart and rebuilt it. I believe that sometimes you have to look deeper and in unexpected places to find answers. I noticed that I can talk or focus on other things and still solve the cube. There must be an independent part of my brain at work, able to process information.
The Rubik's Cube taught me that to accomplish something big, it helps to break it down into small pieces. I learned that it's important to spend a lot of time thinking, to try to find connections and patterns. I believe that there are surprises around the corner. And, that the Rubik's Cube and I, we are more than the sum of our parts.
Like a difficult text or sometimes like life itself, the Rubik's Cube can be a frustrating puzzle. So I carry one in my backpack as a reminder that I can attain my goals, no matter what obstacles I face.
And did I mention that being able to solve the cube is surprisingly impressive to girls?
Independently produced for Weekend Edition Sunday by Jay Allison and Dan Gediman with John Gregory and Viki Merrick.
A 1400 word essay about the Rubik's Cube, by Tyson Mayne.
The Rubik's Cube Essay
In 1981, Jessica Fridrich, a sixteen year old from Czech Republic, saw a fascinating puzzle for the first time . It was held by a fourteen year old boy who could solve it in about one minute . The boy then let her use the Magic Cube for the first time; she had the cube for long enough to finish one side.. When Jessica got her first cube several months after she developed her fascination to the puzzle, she was able to solve it (“20 Years” 1). She is just one of many people who developed an attraction to the Magic Cube. How was the Magic Cube introduced, how were larger sized cubes invented, and what is speed solving?
To understand the history of the Magic Cube, a person has to look at the origin, design, and popularity of the cube. The first cube was produced in 1974 by Professor Erno Rubik, and the cube was used to show symmetry, or being equivalent on two different sides, in his Form Studies class, and he called it the Magic Cube (Sabar 1; “Rubik’s Cube” 1). His first prototype was made by hand even though it has been mass-produced since 1979 (“Rubik’s Cube” 2). Supposedly Terutoshi Ishige designed a cube on his own a year later, and he received a Japanese patent (“Rubik’s Cube” 1). The puzzles were made in Hungary and dispersed by Politechnika, but they could not be exported to other countries because the Eastern Block countries’ economies were terribly ineffective (“History of Cube” 1). Even though the cube was produced in Hungary, Czech Republic, the neighboring country, was not able to sell the cubes (“20 Years” 1). Although the cubes were hard to export, the company Ideal started producing the Magic Cube where they renamed it to the Rubik’s Cube, and it sold 150 million puzzles during the time of 1980-1982 (Sabar 1). After Seven Towns owned the marketing for the cube and gave the Rubik’s Cube production to the Oddzon Company to sell it in the United States; the amount of selling increased yearly (Sabar 2). At this time until 1990, the Cube was sold more than 200,000,000 (“Rubik’s Cube” 2). Forty years later, in 2014, the puzzle had a five million dollar display at New Jersey’s Liberty Science Center (Sabar 2). Today, these cubes are made by using molds, or cavities in steel. The pieces are then removed out of the two piece molds (“Rubik’s Cube” 2). All the puzzles are made of plastic. The core is nylon, and in assembly, the pieces are made from the bottom to the top (“Rubik’s Cube” 3). Usually a black pigment is added to the plastic. The plastics are shipped to the company with pellets, filler, and pigment (“Rubik’s Cube” 2). Inspectors usually check the product at every step of the manufacturing process. They are checked by their looks, color, melting point, weight, and toxicity level (“Rubik’s Cube” 3). Off-brand cubes also follow this method to make these cubes, but they slight. are usually made in China and are based off of the Rubik’s Cube, but they have differences. These differences usually allow for the cube to move faster and smoother. In my opinion and many others the off-brand cubes are better than the Rubik’s Brand cubes. With a total of 258 votes the off-brand cubes had 93% of the vote and the Rubik’s Brand had 7% of the vote on what kind of cubes are better (Mayne 1).
In the past, many different sized Rubik’s Cubes have been invented. The first cube that was different than the Rubik’s Cube was actually made before Erno Rubik invented his cube. This cube was the 2x2x2 that was invented by Larry Nichols; the cube had a working model in 1968 and was issued a patent in 1972. Later in 1986 the Ideal company was ruled guilty in the United States court system for infringing on Nichols’ patent. After the 2x2x2 and 3x3x3, the Rubik’s Revenge, Master Cube, or simply the 4x4x4 was made in 1983 by Peter Sebesteny (“Rubik’s Cube” 1). The 5x5x5 Professor’s Cube was invented three years later in 1986 by Udo Krell (Deventer 4). Eighteen years later in 2004, Panagiotis Verdes patented the cubes from the size of the 6x6x6 to the 11x11x11 (Verdes 1). He had functional prototypes for the 6x6x6 and 7x7x7 that had curved designs, and these curves of the cubes allowed for all pieces to be the same size and not fall apart (Verdes 8). A Chinese patent was created for the 12x12x12 on November 20, 2009, by Leslie Le. It then became the largest NxNxN puzzle (Deventer 6). After this on January 1, 2010, the first attempt of creating a 17x17x17 failed (Karlin 2). The designer of the cube was Oskar Van Deventer of the Netherlands. His second attempt introduced floating anchors or pieces that attach to themselves (Deventer 12). The locking of pieces around the corners allowed for more stability (Deventer 12). In 2011 on Oskar Van Deventer’s third attempt, the 17x17x17 Rubik’s Cube, or Over The Top cube, was named the largest order three dimensional puzzle by Guinness World Records, and it is made up of 1,539 single pieces (“Largest Cube” 1). In 2015 Corenpuzzle created the largest Rubik’s Cube, and it is a 22x22x22. He created this puzzle using a consumer 3d printer. This puzzle has an unbelievable number of 4.3x10^1795 possible scrambles (Liszewski 1).
If a person wishes to be an avid competitor in solving Rubik’s Cubes, the solving methods he/she can use, competitions in which he/she can compete in, and the world records he/she can achieve are important to know. There are many methods a person can use to solve the Rubik’s Cube. The most popular method that was originally developed by Jessica Fridrich in 1996 (“System for Cube” 1). She, along with Mirek Goljan and Mike Pugh, refined David Singmaster’s method. The method is a four step system that include making a cross; finishing the first two layers; orientating the last layer, or making the last layer have the required color; and permuting the last layer, or moving the pieces around to solve the cube, so this is called CFOP (“System for Cube” 1).These methods allowed for speedcubers to improve their time, so they can compete at competitions. This included the first world championship in 1982 that had competitors from many countries ("3x3 Result" 4). After that the next competition was a world championship in Toronto in 2003 ("3x3 Result" 4). The community needed an organization and in 2004 the World Cube Association (WCA) was founded by Ron van Bruchem and Tyson Mao (Bruchem, 1). The world championships are held every two years by the WCA ("3x3 Result" 4). These competitions have up to nineteen different events that include different twisty puzzles, and every type has a world record. World records are split into two different types, and those include singles and averages. A single consists of a single time and an average consists of 5 solves, but the slowest and fastest solves are removed; thus, making the average a mean of three. These records are recorded by the WCA (“World Records” 2-6). The 3x3x3 world record single has changed from 22.95 seconds to 4.90 seconds over thirty three years, and has been broken twenty nine different times ("3x3 Result" 1-4). Lucas Etter of the United States is the current record holder and broke the record at a competition in Maryland in 2015 (“World Records” 2). The 3x3x3 world record average has been broken twenty two times from 20.00 seconds to 6.54 seconds ("3x3 Result" 4-10). The current record holder is Feliks Zemdegs of Australia, and he has broken the 3x3x3 average a total of eight consecutive times ("3x3 Result" 4). Feliks has held this record since 2009; he currently holds eight records which is the most of any other person at this time (“World Records” 2-6).
The Rubik’s Cube has a deep history, has influenced many other inventions, and has led to a new group of puzzlers. The Rubik’s Cube had a iconic look for the 80s and became a very popular puzzle of the following decades. This led to the invention of the 4x4x4 and 5x5x5 in the 80s and later the 6x6x6-11x11x11 in 2003, and later on making a race to the largest puzzle that is currently a 22x22x22. The Rubik’s Cube had created a race to see who could solve it the fastest making people search for different methods, and it also introduced a new hobby that led to competitions around the world with people who try and compete for world record times for averages and singles of events. This community of people, like Jessica Fridrich, has allowed the Rubik's Cube to become one of the most popular puzzles.
Honors English 11, B4
20 May 2016
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