Fingers fly and colors swirl: Rubik's cube makes a comeback

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

How long does it take you to solve a Rubik's Cube? Though you probably haven't touched the multicolored puzzle since grade school, Rubik's Cube enthusiasts are helping the obsession-encouraging plastic contraption make a global comeback.

Still can't remember? It's a three-dimensional fetish object with rotating tiles that can be scrambled into 43 quintillion combinations.

The goal of the puzzle is to return the cube to its original position, so that nine squares of the same color make up each face of the cube.

Easier said than done.

Earlier this month, Leyan Lo, a 20-year-old physics major at the California Institute of Technology, solved the cube in 11.13 seconds at the international Rubik's Cube competition in San Francisco, setting a new world record.

Ever since a Hungarian named Erno Rubik invented the cube in 1974, speed cubers from around the world have been addicted.

Popularity peaked in the early 1980s and waned quickly, but cube communities online have brought it back. Now tournaments are attracting a new generation.

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