Ok, I am seriously confused about this one…
The BBC reports this morning that some (obviously very bored) computer scientists have used their supercomputer to work towards an ultimate solution of the fabled Rubik’s Cube. Its something to do with finding the minimum number of moves needed to solve the puzzle.
Now, aside from questions as to how on earth they got a research grant for this, the line in the story that jumped out at me was this:
“It took some smart thinking by graduate student Daniel Kunkle and Gene Cooperman from Northeastern University in Boston to come up with the proof because cranking through the 43 billion billion possible Rubik’s cube positions would take too long even for a supercomputer”
Excuse me?!? 43 billion billion combinations?!?!
A Rubik’s Cube has 6 faces, each split in to 9 pieces. Now, even not taking into account the fact that many of these face pieces are joined to adjacent pieces on other faces, surely the maximum number of combinations is 96 = 531441 (not 43,000,000,000,000,000,000)?
Somebody tell me what’s wrong with my maths…