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Author Topic: Old Rubik's Cube book rediscovered via the Internet. I love you Internet.  (Read 4707 times)
nudone
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« on: October 07, 2010, 04:21:29 AM »

I learnt to solve the Rubik's Cube during the first craze by reading this book: The Simple Solution to Rubik's Cube by James G. Nourse.

It was 1981, I was 12 years old, bored out of my brain holidaying in a very rainy Wales and using a cheap micro sized cube - actually a novelty keyring, not much more than a couple of inches in width.

Sometime soon after, I forgot a few of the algorithm solutions but would muddle through with what I could remember and still solve the cube, albeit taking longer than necessary. I couldn't relearn the correct algorithms as I'd lent the book to someone, I can't remember who now, but I never got it back.

So, I've spent the past 30 years solving the cube with my messed up method. Knowing that it wasn't quite right but also knowing that it would always work - eventually. (There's a moral in there somewhere.)

Recently, I holidayed in Madeira, this time taking a new book: Speedsolving the Cube by Dan Harris. The intention was to master a new and better cube solving technique. The book is easy to understand and provides simple and complex solutions for cubes 2x2, 3x3, 4x4 and 5x5 (which I can all complete using my inefficient half forgotten method, though, doing the 5x5 can take me about 2 hours, or more, to complete).

But, whilst reading this new and improved book, I realised I was doing the wrong thing. I already had my own method, I haven't the time nor patience to learn a new method; instead I would simply work out where the algorithms I used where going wrong. It would be more satisfying solving the 30 year old mystery I'd lived with.

It didn't take long to realise when and why I should use some of the half remembered algorithms, they were quite obvious in the end. Now, the sense of knowing exactly how to approach a particular pattern with a specific algorithm is very satisfying. But, I knew that I didn't have the complete method for my solution - I could remember the book demonstrating more algorithms than I used; or that is what my faded memory told me - who can say what was in a book that you've not seen for 30 years.

Last night, I decided to try and find the method used in the book. I knew it was an unpopular method, cube solving has progressed over the years, but I thought that after a lot of searching online I'd find some mention of this outdated solution.

Surprisingly, it didn't take long at all. I searched on eBay for Rubik's Cube books and spotted the book cover in the results (or what I thought could be the cover). Enlarging the image of the cover then revealed the author of the book, so another search was done - eventually I found a downloadable version of the book: in .djvu format (something I've never heard of before). After downloading a reader program for the file I scanned through the pages and saw the black and white cube diagrams I'd not seen for 30 years - A M A Z I N G.

I've now waiting for the real book to arrive from an order I placed using Amazon Marketplace (quite a few old copies are for sale on there).


So, after all that, why I have troubled you with this little tale?

It's taken 30 years to pass for me to find that book, a genuinely special book that must have influenced the person I became (I hated school and studying so I didn't read any books as a child, yet I persevered with that one). I could have searched for the book sooner, I could have tried to work out where I was going wrong with my cube solution sooner. It didn't matter until now.

Anyway, I just wanted to say that the Internet is amazing - within just a few short minutes last night it managed to transcend 30 years and show me something I doubted existed anymore. It's just an old book - with a less than perfect solution inside (there's a moral in there somewhere).

« Last Edit: October 07, 2010, 08:57:50 AM by nudone » Logged
Darwin
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« Reply #1 on: October 07, 2010, 07:41:54 AM »

Ha, ha - I'm looing at the cover of my copy, also purchased in 1981 when I was 12, as I write this. My 8 year old has been poring over it trying to solve his Rubik's Cube. What I wish I could find is my original Rubik's Cube. It was beautifully made and sikly smooth and I was the envy of my friends in middle school. Long gone, though...
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« Reply #2 on: October 07, 2010, 07:57:54 AM »

Great post, Nudone!  I had the same book as a kid, and once upon a time, I too could solve the Rubik's cube.  No longer, sadly...

Very nostalgic  smiley
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« Reply #3 on: October 07, 2010, 08:27:21 AM »


well, for someone who never read books as a kid, you tell a great story Kiss
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« Reply #4 on: October 07, 2010, 08:53:40 AM »

heheh, I thought (or hoped) there would be DC members with similar memories of that book. After I started searching online for it last night, it became clear it was a popular book during the initial cube craze.

(And, Darwin, I do still have my original Rubik's cube, though, not the mini keyring version I mentioned. It feels a bit worn compared to my new one - but not bad for a 30 year old "toy".)
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cranioscopical
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« Reply #5 on: October 07, 2010, 10:40:56 AM »

It sounds twisted to me!
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Chris
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« Reply #6 on: October 07, 2010, 10:45:57 AM »

It sounds twisted to me!

Perfect.
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« Reply #7 on: October 07, 2010, 06:28:36 PM »

It sounds twisted to me!

Could also be a turn-over?
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« Reply #8 on: October 07, 2010, 07:54:28 PM »

Could also be a turn-over?
But then it might jam!
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« Reply #9 on: October 08, 2010, 12:19:34 AM »

I've had this one sitting on my shelf for the last 25 years.



I'm sure I could find the cube in the garage if I looked hard enough.
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« Reply #10 on: February 19, 2014, 01:27:47 PM »

Isn't the quickest solution ... pealing off the color squares?  An ex-friend did that to mine.   mad
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« Reply #11 on: February 19, 2014, 02:52:47 PM »

Haha! This is a fun topic for me! Here's Nudone's note, ((With some insertions for comic effect!)) and then my own afterward.

I learnt to solve the Rubik's Cube during the ((third)) craze by reading this book: The Simple Solution to Rubik's Cube by James G. Nourse.

It was ((1996)), I was ((20)) years old, bored out of my brain ((procrastinating studying college classes)).

((Immediately)) after, I forgot a few of the algorithm solutions ((because I was lazy!!)) but would muddle through with what I could remember and still solve the cube, albeit taking longer than necessary ((But five minutes was fast enough in 4-hour dorm hang-outs)). I couldn't ((be bothered to learn)) the correct algorithms ((Because seven can solve the cube in those five minutes but it jumps to like 20 to get your time down to three minutes)). ((I have since lost the book in the mists of time.))

So, I spent ((2)) years ((during college)) solving the cube with my messed up method. Knowing that it ((is as bastardized as possible while still working!!))  but also knowing that it would always work - eventually. (There's a moral in there somewhere. ((Yes - Sometimes it's possible to get by with the smaller things in life by just being lazy. Like not doing dishes.- Tao))

...Speedsolving the Cube by Dan Harris. ((During one month being bored at work I looked up the current theory of speedsolving about 2010. I didn't know Dan Harris had written a book.))

...I already had my own method, I haven't the time nor patience to learn a new method; ((and the Rubik's Cube is old-hat enough  that it just wasn't wasting my already feeble memory on for me.)) ...

It didn't take long to realise when and why I should use some of the half remembered algorithms, they were quite obvious in the end.

((I disagree. The key of the Nourse book is that the last algorithm is it's 30 moves long but it "Just Works" in the Apple sense. ))

Now, the sense of knowing exactly how to approach a particular pattern with a specific algorithm is very satisfying. ((No, it's not, for me. I like the 30 mover at the end because it's muscle memory and it Just Works. But there's the spot in the middle with a set of about eight patterns that actually takes work to memorize and that's the part I skipped because its only use was speed, not being essential.))

But, I knew that I didn't have the complete method for my solution - I could remember the book demonstrating more algorithms than I used; or that is what my faded memory told me - who can say what was in a book that you've not seen for 30 years.

((I DO remember exactly what is in it, 18 years later. The first chapter is about the top row, and he doesn't care "how you do it" because his point is solving the cube is not about "the top is blue", but the "blue-yellow cube can ONLY go on the intersection of those two sides. So once you get it there it just stays there. And all the moves are about you retain the progress you made at each step, barring blunders.

So the top row is a snap because you can let the entire rest of the cube go to hell to save time.

Then there's the middle row, and you just put the cubes where they belong one at a time, and the move is pretty easy.

The fun is that for the bottom row, that method's concept is it retains the progress you already have made. But now there's less "entropy" to waste, so the moves suddenly get WAY harder. See my comment about the 30 mover - it's because it has to switch EXACTLY two cubes with no room to spare. But it "Just Works". The step *before* that is the one  you're supposed to look at the series of eight/whatever configurations and pick *which one* of the eight patterns to use - BLEH!! But if you just learn two of the eight they're cyclical so if you "don't mind wasting time" it just rotates through the configurations so you just do the move three times in a row and then it works out. ))

Last night, I decided to try and find the method used in the book. I knew it was an unpopular method, cube solving has progressed over the years, but I thought that after a lot of searching online I'd find some mention of this outdated solution.

((It's unpopular because it's absolutely de-optimized for speed solving - it's designed to lock in your progress so you can't lose it at any time, barring blunders. The problem with the speed methods is you get those "decision points" where if you DO learn the 138 patterns, your time rockets down from that lazy five minutes to forty five seconds. ))


Whee! Does that help?
Cool
« Last Edit: February 19, 2014, 03:01:03 PM by TaoPhoenix » Logged
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« Reply #12 on: February 19, 2014, 03:25:44 PM »

Wow that brings back memories!

The first time I saw that book was a couple weeks after the first time I saw a Rubik's Cube. A friend bought one and then spent 2 weeks trying to solve it before giving up and buying the book. He was pissed when he figured out he had gotten within about a dozen moves on his own.
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« Reply #13 on: February 19, 2014, 06:01:22 PM »

Wow that brings back memories!

The first time I saw that book was a couple weeks after the first time I saw a Rubik's Cube. A friend bought one and then spent 2 weeks trying to solve it before giving up and buying the book. He was pissed when he figured out he had gotten within about a dozen moves on his own.

Heh depends on "Which Dozen"!

That method in the Nourse book is interesting as a semi IQ-test. Provided it is "an important goal" (to prevent things like my brand of laziness!), "any bright person (including child sub-prodigies!)" can do the top row as long as they get the concept of the difference between a "color" and "cube placement". I'll leave it for another day about what it takes to discover that "on your own". But kinda like "free advice" from a business, even if you didn't get that concept because you were stuck on a blind alley, a five minute explanation is enough and then the Bright Person *can* work out the easy combos but it's far from giving the show away.

A "Dedicated" bright person can get the middle row. The moves to do that are slightly longer, but still pretty easy relatively. Only a genius would see it "pure" and do it right the first time instantly, but good intuition and some fiddling for "moderate" lengths of time should be enough.

It's that last row that's the real cruncher. I could not possibly have gotten any of the move sets required. And I don't care to spend eleven hours diagramming that last 30 mover!
ohmy

I think I recall Mr. Nourse said he only got the last bit of inspiration because his day job was as a chemist and he was used to large interactions of swirling elements.

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« Reply #14 on: February 19, 2014, 06:20:13 PM »

Misc notes:

- Long after that college hobby, I had no use for the cube for a decade. But I like "projects of the week/month" and a couple of different times in homage to the nostalgia I checked up on the evolving theory of the speedcubing world a few years ago.

- The Cube really was prone to a bit of "Sequel-itis" more often seen in movie theory. The Cube is stunningly brilliant. See this snip from the Wiki page:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rubik%27s_Cube
"In the mid-1970s, Ernő Rubik worked at the Department of Interior Design at the Academy of Applied Arts and Crafts in Budapest.[12] Although it is widely reported that the Cube was built as a teaching tool to help his students understand 3D objects, his actual purpose was solving the structural problem of moving the parts independently without the entire mechanism falling apart. He did not realize that he had created a puzzle until the first time he scrambled his new Cube and then tried to restore it.[13]"

Heh Oops... total "What Have I Done" moment! So, brilliance part 1 is that it was a structural study in a professional environment!

- The complete set of "basic" solving concepts really is pretty tough to get "cold out of the gate". See my note above - "Any dedicated child can get the first two rows", but then that last 80-20 conceptual wall kicks in and you get hosed. (By "Basic" I even mean the current speed-cubing practice. See below.)

- The cube still holds important study material for professional mathematicians dealing with combinatorial-informational theories etc.

Whew!

Unfortunately, his later projects rapidly went downhill.
- Rubik's Magic has a stunning "technology concept" in the link pattern of the vinyl fibers, but the actual solution is pretty rudimentary.
- Rubik's Clock was even more basic. Even lil' ol' me in *high school* figured that out and I even created a term paper enabling my English teacher to solve it.

(Spoiler: Rubik's Clock is two sided, has mechanical wheels, and each wheel moves two sets of four clocks out of two sets of nine laid out in a three-by-three pattern on each side. The innermost clock moved by all four mechanical wheels on the object is the center clock. 9 clocks. Move 4 at a time. The middle one is the common linked data-point. Go on, take a beer, fiddle with it for an hour just to see the movement, and then the solution comes to you. Your "One minute advice" clue is that it's really similar to Algebra's isolating down to one variable in a multi set of equations and then you fill in bit by bit. In Rubik's Clock, you can do it intuitively. Come on, 4 4 4 4 4 4 4 4 4 9. Even. Odd. Right.

Yes, it really is as simple as you think it is.)

« Last Edit: February 19, 2014, 06:32:29 PM by TaoPhoenix » Logged
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« Reply #15 on: February 19, 2014, 06:54:26 PM »

...
So, after all that, why I have troubled you with this little tale?

It's taken 30 years to pass for me to find that book, a genuinely special book that must have influenced the person I became (I hated school and studying so I didn't read any books as a child, yet I persevered with that one). I could have searched for the book sooner, I could have tried to work out where I was going wrong with my cube solution sooner. It didn't matter until now.

I'll see you James Nourse and raise you!

This next bit will sound "snarky" but I mean it in a blended "humanistic-technical sense"! So try not to get upset!

If you had "wanted to" find that book, you could have found it 10-15 years ago and maybe 20 years ago. But you "didn't try very hard" aka "thinking laterally", so you "accepted" that it took you this long for slow nostalgia to kick in and you eventually succeeded.

I know, allowing for better engines, watch this:
Yahoo search (aka Bing, "second rate" not even Google!) Rubik's Cube Solution books 1981
Bang. First result:

The Simple Solution to Rubik's Cube by James G. Nourse 1981 ...
www.ebay.com/ctg/Simple-Solution-Rubiks-Cube-James-G...   Cached
The Simple Solution to Rubik's Cube by James G. Nourse (1981, Paperback) : James G. Nourse (1981)

Even Back in 1998 it might not have been First Result, but only about eight books about the Rubik's Cube appeared before about 1983, and then you just check them.

"That Was Easy". (Staples)

I'll raise you "Phoenix".

Turns out, after many scattered weeks of research over twenty years, the "Phoenix" (Western version) is way at the top of the list of myths with "exactly three words". Birdy. Reborn. Flames. And then suddenly you discover no one else knows ANYTHING.

But the story I read 30 years ago was a take on the myth that gave me my handle. Brilliantly done. Go on, try to find it. Children's Book. Phoenix. Go on, try to search THAT!

You'll get crappy results about Phoenix Arizona, Phoenix Suns teams, and seven other businesses.

Lemme save you the misery.

One random day through a once-a-decade bit of inspiration, I found a (now forgotten) search path that pulled it in. By beautiful pure chance, a fresh new copy was made in the "search era". Cleaned up, see below.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/David_and_the_Phoenix
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Edward_Ormondroyd

Look at that last name. *Completely* unmemorable. And this was a book I'd read as a child about age 10. (Unknown if it was the 1957 or 1981 edition but it felt quasi old, even chances being the 1957 copy.)

Heh - so I bought three copies for Old Times sake.

So here's to Nostalgia books!

smiley

« Last Edit: February 19, 2014, 07:03:17 PM by TaoPhoenix; Reason: Copy-editing » Logged
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« Reply #16 on: February 20, 2014, 02:24:25 AM »

I also had one of those books as a kid, never really managed to get any good at solving the cube back then though. It's quite annoying that it's so much harder to solve by actually thinking about what to do, compared to just blindly applying some simple systematic rules embarassed.

A couple of years ago I revisited it because our son found a cube, so I google'd a bit and ended up using Tyson Mao's beginner method (video). It's not the fastest way to do it by far, but I found it fairly easy to follow, and the moves you need have a certain rhythm to them that somehow made them easier to remember for me, and it does let you comfortably solve any cube in under two minutes without really thinking much about what you're doing.
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« Reply #17 on: February 20, 2014, 05:53:50 AM »

This you Tao.. ?  http://www.wimp.com/blindfoldedrecord/
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« Reply #18 on: February 20, 2014, 07:37:03 AM »


Haha, no!

See above, I used a really sloppy slow method. There's no way I'd be able to do that!

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« Reply #19 on: February 20, 2014, 07:40:08 AM »

I also had one of those books as a kid, never really managed to get any good at solving the cube back then though. It's quite annoying that it's so much harder to solve by actually thinking about what to do, compared to just blindly applying some simple systematic rules embarassed.

A couple of years ago I revisited it because our son found a cube, so I google'd a bit and ended up using Tyson Mao's beginner method (video). It's not the fastest way to do it by far, but I found it fairly easy to follow, and the moves you need have a certain rhythm to them that somehow made them easier to remember for me, and it does let you comfortably solve any cube in under two minutes without really thinking much about what you're doing.

Exactly Jibz, hence my big note above.

Also, Tyson Mao's video is the same method as the Nourse book, except upside down and missing for me what was the whole secret of the cube itself, which was about piece placement and *not* stickers!

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« Reply #20 on: February 20, 2014, 07:52:56 AM »


Haha, no!

See above, I used a really sloppy slow method. There's no way I'd be able to do that!



Did you click the Next and see the dog playing the piano and singing?  Better than the cube stunt.
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« Reply #21 on: February 20, 2014, 10:30:59 PM »

Ladies and gentlemen, I present to you....

CubeStormer.

Solves a Rubik's Cube in three seconds.
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« Reply #22 on: February 21, 2014, 09:49:04 AM »

This one's a lot longer (5:26) but seems to figure it out rather than being preprogrammed?   huh
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