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Rubic’s cube: solving it as a process

The Rubic’s cube is 40 this year, a puzzle that to many people seems to be the play thing of maths geniuses and the friendless. I can solve a cube in about 2 to 3 minutes and I’m certainly no maths genius (and I have a couple of friends at least). If you don’t believe me check out the video below, those are my hands. So how do I do it, what makes me so clever?

Simple, I learned a process…

How to solve it (this isn’t the actual solution, just how to get there)

People who don’t know how to solve a cube think that solving it means being able to see and understand from the very beginning how to move every square colour about so that it will all fall into place. In fact all you need to do to get all the same colours on the same face is follow a set of progressive steps:

  1. line up the bottom centre colour as a cross with side centres
  2. fill in the bottom corners
  3. fill in the colours between the side centres
  4. make a cross with the top face colour
  5. line up top face colour with the side colours
  6. put the corners in the right place
  7. rotate the corners to the correct orientation and cube is solved

For each of those 7 steps there are a couple of standard moves to learn for each step to get the colour in the right place. Easy.

The point I want to make is that a seemingly highly complex task is solved by just breaking it down into simple steps and following a process. So how many other impossibly difficult tasks in life can be understood and resolved by just understanding how to get from start to finish in simple, manageable steps?

Something to think about.

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