Speedcubing June 9, 2010


***Update***: Edits have been made to this piece since the original posting.

This has nothing to do with atheism; it’s just really cool.

While at the American Humanist Association conference, I saw my friend Leyan Lo, who is a Rubik’s Cube world champion. (He taught me how to solve it… I can do it in about three minutes now.)

Here’s him in action after Jafsica scrambles up the cube:

15.46 seconds.

The Rubik’s Cube: the way to impress the ladies.

But that’s not all!

Later, we made him do it without looking, behind his back, while we unintentionally distracted him…

Once again, Jafsica was in charge of scrambling it up.

After “memorizing” the layout, it took about 70 seconds, by my count.

That’s #%$&ing impressive.

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  • Matt Johnson

    I’m gonna show my extreme nerdyness here now.

    I got my cube off the shelf for the first time in years the other day. I learnt how to solve it way back in 2003 after I was unemployed for a couple of months following University.

    I can still just about do it. It’s coming back gradually. The only problem is that it’s been left in the sun so the red side is almost the exact same colour as the orange side and one of my yellows have gone white. Can make it a bit more challenging at times. :o)

  • Michael

    It Figures, I go to an atheist forum and see a miracle. I BELIEVE, I BELIEVE!!

  • Wendy

    uh wow.

    Can I ask what he does for a living?

  • Liudvikas

    Well my record is 90 seconds 🙂 I have no idea how I could improve it 🙂

  • Pure Awesome

  • Evan

    I love the cube, because once you know how to do it its really simple, but to anyone else its seems extremely impressive, also you should try the 4x4x4 cube it takes some amount of time longer but i can get it in 6 minutes assuming i don’t run into parity and have to back track.

  • Alt+3

    I learned how to do this back in grade 7. My personal record is 33 seconds, but that was a really lucky one, half the algorithms were done as I solved it. My average is about 45 seconds.

    On a completely unrelated note I wonder why I never get laid?

  • Bob

    Used to do this in high school (using the algorithm sold as ‘The Simple Solution to Rubik’s Cube) and got pretty fast, but I don’t remember my best time.

    Brings back memories.

  • Ed

    Here is a link to a site that details mods you can make to your rubix cube to speed it up, apparently this is standard among people who compete.


    I don’t know much about rubixcubes, but I think Leyan is not memorizing the layout of the puzzle so much as he is memorizing the solution to the puzzle. It looks like he is counting the number of turns and their order rather than trying to remember the initial placement of pieces.

  • Anonymous

    “The Rubik’s Cube: the way to impress the ladies.”

    As if the ladies can’t already solve it, as if men aren’t impressed by a woman’s intelligence, as if you don’t have plenty of female readers to address? Please.

  • prospera


  • I did not know I was being videotaped.
    I took a video, too, but I didn’t start in time. Hemant’s video is way better.

    That being said, I am awesome at mixing up the Rubik’s cube. (I didn’t want any 3-in-a-rows.)

    *Applauds Leyan*

  • CatBallou

    In all fairness, she was already in bed!

  • Bob


    That’s correct, because no matter the number of turns used to scramble the cube, the solution I’m familiar with was based on orienting several faces properly, then executing a series of turns that would bring more of the cube into line.

    Which is part of the wonder behind the puzzle; it’s not random, though the orientation of individual colors on a given face would seem to suggest so – there’s a pattern, even amid seeming ‘chaos,’ from which one can derive ‘order.’ No God required, just basic math.


    When the cube debuted, geekdom was still largely a guy thing, and looked down upon. (We were the guys with calculators on our hips and pocket protectors, the ones in the Math and Sci-Fi Clubs, remember us?)

    Now there’s a broader appeal to the chic of geek, as it were.

  • From the comment “Oh you have a video camera” I am assuming a DSLR with video capability, probably a 7D or a 5D MKII if your REALLY into it.
    Or is it one of the prosumer models?

  • Phillip

    I admittedly had a hard time focusing on the cube in the first video, what with that incredibly cute girl in the bed next to him.

    The second was quite impressive, particularly because it look much more mixed..

  • JB Tait

    I used to pry off a couple of colours and swap them in an unresolvable pattern then, when the opportunity arose, hand it to the nerd who thought he had mastered the solve. It was remarkable how few noticed what their problem was when they failed.

    I suspect Leyan would detect it immediately.

  • In competitions, we usually include the memorization time with the solve, so the total time for that solve would have been 2:33. Jafsica really mixed it up well!

    I really do memorize the positions of the pieces first, and I don’t plan the solution until I start solving it behind my back. Much easier to remember the 20 pieces than the hundreds of moves I’d need to solve them. Here’s the website of the guy who taught me if you’re interested:

  • JB Tait

    The only concession I made for speed, originally, was to dust the joints of my favorite cube with Comet cleaner. My best cube got that way from constant use. Slack to the point of floppy was helpful, but consistency seemed to matter more.

  • JB Tait

    My favorite was the one that was all black but the faces differed by texture. Velcro (both genders), sandpaper, fur, glossy vinyl, and screen turned out to be the best materials.

  • Lol! You took away the one with my surprised look.

  • I had no idea there was a process for solving those things. IMO, that is an awesome party trick.

  • I refuse to believe that magic isn’t somehow involved with solving these. Someone off screen had a wand. That or I’m jealous of being out nerded.

  • bigjohn756

    I packed my cube with sand so it would hardly move. That’s my excuse.

  • whoa! I missed that!

  • You did! I wish you were there cuddling with me, Kaleena.

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