July 13

Rubik's Cube Image Credit: Booyabazooka [GFDL or CC-BY-SA-3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Today in Science

Celebrate the Art and the Puzzle of a Cube

Erno Rubik, inventor of the Rubik's Cube, was born in 1944. In his honor, today is celebrated as International Puzzle Day.

The Rubik’s Cube, became a worldwide craze in the 1980s. Within a year after the toy was first exported from Rubik’s native Hungary in May 1980, sales topped 5 million. Manufacturers of the puzzle found it difficult to keep up with the skyrocketing demand, and production centers around the world had to be expanded. More than 100 million Rubik’s Cubes were sold between 1980 and 1982 and more than half a million have been sold to date.

The Rubik’s Cube won the highest prize in Hungary for the best invention, as well as top toy awards around the world. Not surprisingly, such a popular toy inspired numerous copies and reproductions. The makers of the original Rubik’s Cube, Ideal Toy Corporation, won lawsuits around the world against the makers of the fake cubes. Interestingly, the patent for the Rubik’s Cube, a 1974 patent for the “Magic Cube,” applies only in Hungary. The toy is not protected from unauthorized copies under patent law. Instead, the Rubik’s Cube is protected from reproductions as a work of art.

When Rubik, an architect, invented the toy in 1974, he created one handmade cube to teach his design students about three-dimensional space, and part of his goal was to create something with aesthetic value. Thus, the cube is protected by copyright law until 70 years after the death of its creator. Fittingly, the Rubik’s Cube was placed on exhibit at the New York Museum of Modern Art in 1981. Rubik, who freely admits to a fascination with space and a love of playing, continues to create new games and puzzles.

Here are a few Science NetLinks lessons that involve puzzles:

Here are some Science NetLinks interactive tools that are fun to play:

And a few more resources from our Thinkfinity partners:

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