Nov 142011
 

Rubik's Cube Solved

Late this summer, my family and I took a trip to Duluth, MN for a get-away weekend.  After a great weekend of hanging out on Lake Superior, eating pie, and touring ore ships, we stopped at a toy store for souvenirs.  Instead of getting a Duluth lift-bridge snow globe or a Split Rock light house t-shirt, my 8 year old son fell in love with a Mini-Rubik’s Cube.  My wife gladly bought it for him, thinking that it would keep him busy in the car during the 4 hour ride back home.

Scrambling the cube and trying to solve it kept him busy for about an hour, but like all of his Transformer toys, he soon started asking me to figure it out for him.  I laughed at him and said, “No way!  I had one of those 20 years ago, and had to break it apart to solve it!”  He soon forgot about the cube, and we played I Spy for the rest of the trip home.

Scrambled Cube

When we arrived home, my son placed the cube on a shelf and didn’t touch it again.  About a week later, I noticed it again and got curious to see if it was still as hard to solve as it was 20 years earlier.  I picked it up and spent about 20 minutes twisting and turning the cube until I got frustrated and checked google to see if there was some trick to solving it.

It turns out that there are several different systems for solving them.  Some of them are very technical and hard to understand, but I found one that was pretty easy to follow.  You make a series of maneuvers, called algorithms on the cube.   Each one is used to solve a different part of the cube.  I spent about a month memorizing them and can now solve any standard 3×3 cube in less than 5 minutes.  5 minutes is pretty good, but the world record is around 6.5 seconds!

 

Rubik’s Cube

Manufacture Date: 1974-Present

Manufacturer: Ideal Toy Corp (US) Now part of Mattel Inc.

Creator: Erno Rubik

Original Name: Magic Cube

Possible Permutations: 4.3 x 1019  or the number 43 with 18 zeros after it!

Number Sold: More than 350 Million!

Trivia:  Erno Rubik did not set out to make a puzzle, but just wanted to see if he could make a cube made of smaller cubes that could be twisted and rotated and still stay together. Once he scrambled the cube, he realized he had made a puzzle!

 

 

 

Nov 012011
 
Powell Street Cable Car

San Francisco Powell Street Cable Car

 

This cable car is really cool for two reason.  The first is that it and others in the fleet have been in service since the 1888s, over 120 years!  The second reason is that the cable cars do not have their own engine, but get their power from a cable running under the street.  The operator has to pull a lever to manually grip the cable!  Riding the cars is popular with San Francisco tourists and everyday commuters.

 

Manufacturer: Carter Brothers (Newark, California)

Weight: 15,500 lbs

Length: 27’6″

Width: 8′

Passenger Capacity: 29 Seated, 60 with Standing.

Engine: No individual engine.  Latches onto an underground 1.25 inch diameter cable driven by a 510 hp electric motor.

Top Speed: 9.5

OwnerSan Francisco Municipal Railway

First Run: 1894 for #506