Toy trends come and go, but somehow, the Rubik’s Cube endures in the form of contests dedicated to solving the famous puzzle faster than ever before. The famous toy remains an enduring toy icon of the 1980’s. Last week, a fourteen-year-old at one of these events in Clarksville, Maryland, shattered the world record in a competition to solve the puzzle, doing so in under five seconds.
Lucas Etter set a time of 4.9 seconds, crushing the previous world record time of 5.25. That kind of time jump in the record is rare in the history of cube-solving, yet the record has been reset twice this year.
It’s an amazing feat when you consider that the cube is configurable in 43 quintillion different ways (here’s what that number looks like: 43,000,000,000,000,000,000). Don’t blink or turn your head, because you might miss this record for the ages in the following video:
Solving cubes under competitive rules is serious business and times are only recognized under sanctioned conditions from the World Cube Association. The conditions of these contests call for a computer-dictated random scrambling of the famed color cubes. The participant is allowed a mere 15 seconds to review the cube before solve time officially begins.
The Rubik’s cube was invented back in 1974 by Erno Rubik, a Hungarian architect. It took some years to become the sensation we know today. It wasn’t until 1980 when Ideal Toy Corp licensed the toy that it became a hit. Today, it stands as the biggest selling toy of all time, with more than 350 million units sold.
Although the toy has faded in popularity in the decades that have passed, it persists in many ways, largely thanks to these types of competitions held around the world. Different techniques with names such as the Petrus system and the Fridrich method have emerged over the years and have helped take the record times ever lower.