Rubik’s cube and Probability

Wonuola Dantes Written by Wonuola Dantes · 1 min read >

Recently, my nephew ‘gifted’ me with a Rubik’s cube and asked me to solve it. Because I like a good challenge, I accepted it with a lot of confidence. I have attempted to solve it a few times, fumbling with the squares. Sometimes it seems like I am making headway, other times, not so much. With that being said, the cube has been sitting on my table for days, I move it when it is time to work and replace it once I am done. I laugh at myself as I write this.

The first person to solve a Rubik’s cube is a Hungarian architecture professor with the name Erno Rubik. He also happened to invent the cube in 1974, after trying for over a month. The cube was created initially to teach his students about 3-dimensional spaces.

One thing that caught my attention is that there are 43,252,003,274,489,856,000 possibilities to arrange the squares, however, only one of the combinations is correct. That is over 43 quintillion ways! That is a large number set to comprehend but what is fascinating is that only one way is right. This is different from a single die where there are just 6 possible outcomes that we can have, ranging from 1 to 6.

It is also said that twenty is the minimum number of moves needed to solve the Rubik’s cube, well you might get lucky if you keep twisting it around. Maybe not. You can look at a Rubik’s cube as a whole bunch of nothing or just a bunch of colors that need to be solved. I can relate this to what I learned from Statistics class where probability can simply be defined as ‘putting in order what is largely a chaotic world.’ 

On a cube, there can never be a green and blue edge piece because they are opposites, the same applies to all the colors of the cube if they are opposites. Once a cube pops completely or explodes into different components, there is a 12% chance that it will still be solved, that is probably because it was not put together in the first place by the individual who is in possession of the scattered squares. This begs the question, how many chances do we get in life before we blow up opportunities? How many times do we allow ourselves to get pulled into situations that are not befitting or appropriate? Sometimes we know the outcomes of the decisions we make but we are ready to risk it all for certain reasons. That is us taking risks.

A few things in life are certain, just like the number of times a cube can be arranged. Some things spring upon us or we jump into them blindly damning the consequences. Hopefully, we wake up each day and make the best choices as much as we can, using all the resources available to us.

By the way, the most common way to solve a cube is the CFOP method (Do not ask me for the meaning, I leave that to you to find out yourself) *winks in Adelakun*.

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