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National Rubik’s Cube Competition Draws Duquesne University Student

A Duquesne University music student who has held world and North American Rubik’s Cube titles will take his flying fingers and strategizing mind to a national contest in New Jersey on Saturday, Dec. 18.

Dan Cohen, a senior music technology major at Duquesne, will compete in a cube-solving competition at the Liberty Science Center in Jersey City, N.J.

While most people know only the “standard issue” Rubik’s Cube, Cohen says he does his best work on larger cubes. He has worked on the standard “3x3” cube. The cube has six colors, one on each side, with three layers cut into each axis. This, Cohen explains “provides for more than 43 quintillion positions the cube can be in.”

Cohen rises best to the challenge of the larger cubes, and has held five of six possible world records in 5x5, 6x6 and 7x7 events.

A resident of Allentown, Pa., Cohen picked up a cube after a high school friend brought one to class and, after a year of familiarizing himself with the cube’s ins and outs, started competing in 2007. From there, it’s become a bit of an obsession.

The contests, Cohen says, “are not as competitive as what you would think. The majority of people are going just for the experience of going and getting to meet people that they’ve talked online with from all over the world. It’s more social than anything.”

Cohen has no idea how many cubes he owns, but at least 50 can be found in his apartment. “I don’t know if it’s an addiction, but it’s something I spend a lot of time doing,” he says. A new design or model will come out every couple months, and he’s curious enough to check them out. “I have more than 10 models of 3x3s alone,” he says.

While experts see a relationship between math and music, Cohen says that math isn’t really critical to the cube-solving process. “Speed-cubing really isn’t math related; there’s math behind it, but you don’t need math to solve the cube.”

Practice, he says, is more the common thread between music and cube-solving.  “It’s just like anyone could pick up a guitar, but you have to practice it,” he says.

Duquesne University

Founded in 1878, Duquesne is consistently ranked among the nation's top Catholic universities for its award-winning faculty and tradition of academic excellence. Duquesne, a campus of nearly 10,000 graduate and undergraduate students, has been nationally recognized for its academic programs, community service and commitment to sustainability. Follow Duquesne University on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.