Arthur C Clarke and Rubik’s Cube 2.0 – are we there yet?

Science fiction writer and futurist Sir Arthur C Clarke knew how closed economies and restrictive cultures stifled innovation. He once said the only memorable invention to emerge from Soviet-dominated Eastern Europe was the Rubik’s Cube!

Rubik’s Cube is a 3D mechanical puzzle invented in 1974 by Hungarian sculptor and professor of architecture, Ernő Rubik. Since then, its huge worldwide success has led to several variations.

I just came across an interesting suggestion for an enhanced Rubik’s Cube, by Arthur Clarke himself, while re-reading his 1990 novel The Ghost from the Grand Banks.

It was an ocean-based thriller set in the (then) near future. It revolved around British-American and Japanese teams competing to raise the Titanic‘s wreck in time for the centenary in April 2012.

In the novel, Sir Arthur talks about the Rubik’s Cube making a comeback 30 years after its first appearance — and in a far more deadly mutation.

As he describes: “Because it was a purely mechanical device, the original Cube had one weakness, for which its addicts were sincerely thankful. Unlike all their neighbours, the six centre squares on each face was fixed. The other forty-eight squares could orbit around them, to create a possible 43,252,003,274,489,856,000 distinct patterns.

“The Mark II had no such limitations; all the fifty-four squares were capable of movement, so there were no fixed centres to give reference to its maddened manipulators. Only the development of microchips and liquid crystal displays had made such a prodigy possible; nothing really moved, but the multicoloured squares could be dragged around the face of the Cube merely by touching them with a fingertip”.

A quick check on the official Rubik website, and a Google search, shows no such device being on the market.

Do you know if anyone has attempted this?

Author: Nalaka Gunawardene

A science writer by training, I've worked as a journalist and communication specialist across Asia for 30+ years. During this time, I have variously been a news reporter, feature writer, radio presenter, TV quizmaster, documentary film producer, foreign correspondent and journalist trainer. I continue to juggle some of these roles, while also blogging and tweeting and column writing.

3 thoughts on “Arthur C Clarke and Rubik’s Cube 2.0 – are we there yet?”

  1. I am a dud that way. I could never solve the Rubic Cube even once – though my younger son does it and is able to do it in about 15-20 minutes or so. But I would like to know how much time Arthur Clarke did take or used to take to solve/achieve it.

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