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jdavidb (1361)

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J. David Blackstone has a Bachelor of Science in Computer Science and Engineering and nine years of experience at a wireless telecommunications company, where he learned Perl and never looked back. J. David has an advantage in that he works really hard, he has a passion for writing good software, and he knows many of the world's best Perl programmers.

Journal of jdavidb (1361)

Monday April 30, 2007
08:08 AM

The Professor Cube

[ #33158 ]

Just had my birthday, and Sarah got me something I've been wanting for a long time: the professor cube. The professor cube is the Rubik's cube, only 5x5x5 instead of the original 3x3x3. Only Sarah didn't buy me the Rubik's brand cube. She got the deluxe tiled version manufactured by Meffert's puzzles.

Older Rubik's cubes had labels that decayed over time (I'm sitting at my desk looking at my Revenge cube (4x4x4) from the 80's and can testify to that. Overall, they held up well, but the glue allowed them to slide, and the labels eventually protruded over joints, and therefore edges of the labels broke off. The situation is far worse if you ever remove one of the labels; they won't go back on permanently. Labels on the newer cubes are far, far worse. They are basically pieces of paper with a thin bit of plastic laminating them. It doesn't take much use at all before the plastic peels off, exposing the paper, which then begins to be destroyed through normal use.

The Meffert's tiled cubes use colored plastic tiles instead of labels. The good news is these tiles ought to be indestructible relative to the labels. The bad news is the glue used to put them on doesn't seem to be very good and some fell off immediately, but that's good news because I can find a better glue and put them back on, and in the process I can make the colors on this cube match my preferred color alignment. (The six colors on the cube can be arranged differently. Most of my favorite cubes from the 80's had blue opposite white. But there were also many with blue opposite green, and today I think 100% of Rubik-brand cubes are blue opposite green, which annoys me. This will be the first time I can really rearrange a cube to suit myself. It's also the first time I've seen a cube which did not have red opposite orange.)

I'm also going to try to actually solve this cube. I learned to solve the original Rubik's cube at age 6-7 from a book my parents got me with the cube. Have solved it millions of times since; repeating the process is enjoyable. My grandparents bought me the Revenge in the 80's. I tried and tried but could not figure it out on my own. Around 2000 I looked up various Revenge solutions online and ended up selecting a handful of extra moves from them to add to my 3x3x3 solution and making solving the Revenge possible. But with the Professor, I'm going to actually fight it out until I'm most or all of the way there, I think. There's a big difference between trying at 29 and trying at 11. Plus, learning the Revenge gave me a lot of thinking tools I need.

I'm taking the approach of joining all 9 center tiles of each side together, followed by joining all three subcubes of each edge. This will give me the equivalent of a very solvable 3x3x3. In fact it should be easier than the 4x4x4 is at the corresponding state, because even-numbered cubes can exhibit parity errors in the process of rejoining the middle pieces, reaching states a 3x3x3 cube cannot reach.

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