Like Liam Neeson in Taken, I have a very particular set of skills, or rather, sets of skills. These skills allow me to enjoy modest success in the fields of librarianship, fantasy football, and virtually steering go-karts driven by characters from the Mario universe. There are many, many skills I don’t possess but wish I did, including, but not limited to: juggling, sleight of hand, skateboarding, dancing, and Rubik’s cube solving.
Earlier this week, I was simultaneously impressed with and made envious by a young patron who has great prowess with the last item on my skill wish list. He came in wanting to print a Rubik’s cube on our 3D printer. During our search for printable designs, he revealed himself as a Rubik’s cube enthusiast who can solve one in about a minute. As someone who has never come remotely close to solving one of those infernal cubes (turning the middle side topwise got me nowhere, unfortunately), I was blown away. Thinking that surely this lad had to be fastest Rubik’s master in the West, I asked him if there are competitions he could enter. He said there are, and the top solvers can finish a cube in about seven seconds, which is total insanity. He has some work to do before he can hang with the very best, but he still deserves mad props for being capable of such an impressive time at such a young age (by the looks of him, I’d say he’s nine or ten).
We pulled up some Rubik’s cube designs on Thingiverse, all of which had lots of parts and would require some intensive assembly. Wanting to save him some waiting time and work, I proposed an alternative. I recently printed a bunch of little three-dimensional cube puzzles, the pieces of which look like this:
It looks really simple, but it’s pretty challenging, or at least it is to a non-cube puzzle wizard like me. I showed him a printed sample and he dug it, so we printed a slightly larger one for him. I’m sure he already has the thing aced, and if he ever comes back to challenge me to a friendly solving competition, I’ll have to fake an injury to my puzzle-solving hand to avoid utter humiliation.