Like everyone else, I once had a Rubik’s cube (the world’s best-selling toy, 350 million of them had been sold by 2009), but I am simply puzzle-illiterate, and gave it up quickly. This video puts me to shame.
Via Vibe, we have this amazing video of Stanford student Ravi Fernandez (dubbed “Sir Ravi” by his worshipful friends) solving one Rubik’s cube while juggling three of them. See if you can watch him move the squares while the cube is in his hand.
It’s no wonder I couldn’t solve it. As Wikipedia notes:
The original (3×3×3) Rubik’s Cube has eight corners and twelve edges. There are 8! (40,320) ways to arrange the corner cubes. Seven can be oriented independently, and the orientation of the eighth depends on the preceding seven, giving 37 (2,187) possibilities. There are 12!/2 (239,500,800) ways to arrange the edges, since an even permutation of the corners implies an even permutation of the edges as well. (When arrangements of centres are also permitted, as described below, the rule is that the combined arrangement of corners, edges, and centres must be an even permutation.) Eleven edges can be flipped independently, with the flip of the twelfth depending on the preceding ones, giving 211 (2,048) possibilities.
which is approximately forty-three quintillion.
The puzzle is often advertised as having only “billions” of positions, as the larger numbers are unfamiliar to many. To put this into perspective, if one had as many standard sized Rubik’s Cubes as there are permutations, one could cover the Earth’s surface 275 times.
As lagniappe, here’s another remarkable juggler: Daniel Menendez, who plays the piano while juggling (there are more recent clips of him on YouTube, too). Be sure to watch it to the end to see the Grand Finale. And don’t forget to tip the waitress!