Thursday, April 16, 2009

Don't you hate it when...

Everybody you run into has to tell you the same news story because they know that you're the person that would be interested in it? Over the last two days I had a half-dozen people tell me that some kid solved 100 Rubik's cubes in a minute, or some variation thereof. I did not happen to see the TV spot on our local CBS or Fox affiliate, since I was probably watching Cash Cab or Time Warp on the Discovery Channel. So, like the good research hound that I am, I try to hunt it down on the internet. No dice. The closest thing that I can find on the internet is that some kid in Washington State solved 64 cubes in less than an hour. The news article even said that he had 19 minutes to spare, and that the previous record was 42 in an hour. That may be the Guinness record, but I don't put much stock in it. Let's walk through the math.

  • Assuming I understand what was in the news article, I think that what it says is that he solved 64 cubes in (60-19=) 41 minutes.
  • 41 minutes is (60*41=) 2460 seconds.
  • 2460 seconds divided by 64 cubes is 38.4375 seconds per cube. I hate to even mention this, but that's slower than my average - we'll give him the benefit of the doubt since I've never tried to cube for an entire hour.
Since this seems insane to me that it's a bona fide record that's worthy of a spot in the books, I went to to look to see if any of the WCA sanctioned (Yes, Virginia, there is a World Cubing Association...) record holders had done anything like this, officially or unofficially. My starting point will be Erik Akkersdijk, since he had the fastest official single time of 2008 of 7.08 seconds. Clearly, no one could get times like that for every single cube, because no competition average is that low yet, so I looked up his average. In a cube competition, that usually means 5 times reduced to three by throwing out the high and the low, and averaging the remaining scores. Erik has an official best average of 11.11 seconds. As a matter of fact, looking at the top 100, everyone has an average under 15 seconds for the format I mentioned. So it seems like to me that any of these guys in the top 100 could seriously sandbag and do better. Since there doesn't seem to be an official category for multi-solving other than blindfolded, I started looking at unofficial times on the speedcubing site. Now while they're clearly labeled unofficial, these are not likely to be bogus times - most of the same people who post these are the same people in the WCA sanctioned events. They're just not at the official events. On the 'Other Cube Records' page, there is both a 'Most Solves in One Hour' category and a 'Cube Marathon ( 42 cubes) category. The above mentioned Erik Akkersdijk has a time listed in the 42 cubes category of - are you sitting down? - 9:57.27. That's less than ten minutes, people. But hey - that's an average of 13.5 seconds per cube, which isn't faster than his official average. Of the times for 42 cubes posted, dating back to 2005, none is over 36 minutes!

Let's get crazy, and look at what's in the most solves in one hour category, shall we? There's a lot of names that no one will know on that list, and Erik wasn't on there to check against. However, all of those people that told me about 'That movie with Will Smith where he...' might eventually find me telling them about Tyson Mao and Toby Mao teaching Will how to solve a Rubik's cube. Wouldn't you know? Toby's name is on the list - with 150 solves in an hour. That's about 24 seconds apeice. Toby's best official average is 14.11 - but that's only for a few cubes. So, I think 24 seconds per cube seems rather plausible. To top it all off, Toby's not anywhere near the top of the list - Milán Baticz is at the top of the list with 245 cubes in an hour. He's no slouch, as he won or at least placed well in events all over Europe since 2005, and he's one of the few cubers to do longer marathons than an hour.

If anybody else has anything to say about 'that kid on TV' to me, I hope they come up with a better story than the one I found, and can tell me what his name is.

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