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Thursday, July 23, 2015

Rubik's Cube champ reveals the secrets of his world-class speed

Written by Danny Gallagher

To most people, the Rubik's Cube looks like a simple toy. But then they start trying to slide those squares into place, and their brains wonder what the Cube did to them that made them want to hurt it so much.

Teenager Collin Burns doesn't see the Rubik's Cube that way. He's been flipping squares since he was a little kid, and he's become so good at solving the Rubik's Cube that he broke the world record for a single solve back in April at the World Cube Association competition. His astonishing time of 5.253 seconds beat the previous record by just under one-third of a second.

You might think solving a Cube that fast requires a brain that can also do calculations faster than a calculator or remember at least 3 million digits of pi. However, you don't need a Ph.D. in quantum mechanics to figure out how to solve it, according to a new video from Vox.

Burns explains in the video below the technique he learned to solve the Cube. It's called the Fridrich Method and named for Binghamton University engineering professor Jessica Fridrich, who developed it while she was a college student.

The method involves recognizing or organizing one set of the colored squares in a cross pattern that establishes that side as the bottom layer. Then Burns solves the Cube in sections above that layer so that just the top row is unsolved. He then applies one of a number of different algorithms to the remaining pieces to put the rest of the Cube's colors in place. Fridrich has her own "Speed Cubing" website that explains her method in more detail.

The real key to Burns' success with the Rubik's Cube isn't some magic formula or hormone injections that give his fingers the dexterity of a cheetah (if cheetahs had fingers). The key is practice. He's dedicated a huge chunk of his young life to learning how the Cube works and how to rapidly recall and apply the techniques he's learned so he could improve his solve time over the years.

So if you can learn to wait and dedicate yourself for the next 10 years or so, you might be able to beat his record and get your name in the record books.

Click here to read more.