There are many things that define the ’80s, but none is more nerdy and therefore awesome than the Rubik’s Cube. Everybody bought one in the early ’80s and then wound up throwing it on a table for a yard sale in the late ’80s. And it turns out that, all this time, you can solve the thing with just twenty moves, no matter the configuration.
So what took so long to figure it out? The fact that there’s more than 43 quintillion configurations. Yes, we said quintillion, and it is a word. We looked it up. It turns out that figuring out the Rubik’s Cube is a complex math problem that required Google to donate about 35 CPU years (CPUs, as we all know, age like dogs), and dividing all the solutions into two billion sets of more than 19 billion positions. Then they used symmetry (i.e. figuring out all the positions that were just one position on its side or upside down) to narrow down those sets to only about 55,000,000. Then it was just a matter of grinding the numbers.
Still, we bet none of these guys can actually solve it in seven seconds, like this guy:
[ via PopSci ]