How Many Squares Are on a Rubik’s Cube? – Let’s Find Out

How many pieces are on your Rubik’s cube? 54? 27?

The question of the number of squares on the cube is itself a puzzle to most folks. Most of us resort to counting the pieces one by one, and we land at number 54.

However, did you know that there are actually 26 square pieces only on that cube?

You might wonder, “How did they arrive at that number?” 

Well, think of it this way, the cube has 6 center pieces, 8 corner pieces, and 12 edge pieces. That makes a total of 26 pieces.

Of these square pieces, only 20 move, as the 6 centers don’t actually move. Realizing these facts may seem like an optional thing but it’s really important. That’s because it helps you understand the cube better, thereby gaining more knowledge on how to solve it.

In this post, you will find some of the most valuable insights into the working of the Rubik’s cube. If you really want to be a pro cuber, we recommend that you don’t just read them; memorize them and let them be unconsciously obvious to you.

The Centers

A center piece will always be a center piece. There’s no move that will help you shift it to the edge or corner whatsoever. Sure, you can rotate them but that’s all you can ever do with them; you cannot really move them.

The reason as to why we’re emphasizing this fact is because it helps you understand that the relative positions of the centers don’t ever change. That, in turn, helps you appreciate the relative positions of the colors on the cube.

In a solved standard cube, white is always opposite yellow, blue is opposite green, and red is opposite orange. If you’re looking directly at red with white on top, green has to be on the left, blue to the right, and yellow to the bottom. That’s the cube’s most fundamental color definition. Be sure to keep it in mind all the time.

The Edges

Like the centers, edge pieces are always on the edge and no move can help you take them to the corners. Also, each edge piece has fixed 2 colors; they never change. To solve an edge, you have to make sure that both colors of the edge piece are on their correct face; not just one of the colors.

The Corners

By now, you must have realized that pieces don’t change their positions on the cube. The same case applies to the corners; they are always corners, and there’s no move that can make them center or edge pieces.

Corner pieces have 3 colors on them and these colors are fixed. To solve a corner, all you have to do is ensure that any 2 of its colors are on the proper face.

Wait a minute. So, I don’t have to place all the 3 colors on the correct face? So, I can have the red-green-yellow corner in between the yellow and red faces in such a way that they look okay but have the green side on the blue face?

No, you can’t. This might not be very obvious straightaway, but the next section will help bring things into perspective.

Not Just Any Color Pattern Is Possible

In the example above, the red-green-yellow corner will exist in the same “red-green-yellow” order when you rotate it counterclockwise while looking at it. To be in the red-yellow-blue position with red and yellow correct.

But, green on the blue face would need it to appear like red-yellow-green (again counterclockwise), which it cannot, and if somehow it does, that simply means that someone took out the pieces and forgot to place them back in the right way. The only way to solve the issue would be to take the pieces off and place them back on properly.

Therefore, the only color patterns that are possible are the ones that can be made from the 24 pieces, and these pieces lock colors together in certain ways. Wait; there’s more!

Not Every Other Piece Combination Is Possible

Why? Simply because you can’t move the pieces arbitrarily; you can only turn the whole face. Therefore, you can only achieve the arrangement that is attainable by a series of whole-face moves.

There are around 520 quintillion different ways to put the pieces onto the cube. However, you can get only around 40 of these from a solved cube; only these are possible to solve.

In case you have a lot more ways of solving the cube, once again, it means that someone crumbled the cube and put the pieces back on incorrectly. What you have to do is crumble it again and put the pieces back on correctly.

There’s still more to learn about the Rubik’s cube squares and math, let’s see the next section, shall we?

Not Just Any Move Is Possible

The only move you can make is that of rotating an entire face. Also, there are just three such turns possible for each face:
  • 90° turn clockwise.
  • 90° turn counterclockwise.
  • 180° turn (in any direction).

Note that a 360° turn is no turn at all, as you will only land at the same point.

Also, other rotations are similar to the three moves, like a 270° degree turn clockwise is the same as a 90° turn counterclockwise. If you were to make 13578 90° anticlockwise turns, you’d have made a single 180° turn.

The bottom line is, all the moves you can do are just a combination of the three primary moves. There isn’t another way for you to move the squares around. 

Position and Orientation Rubik’s Cube

When you hear someone talk of a piece’s position, they’re only referring to the piece’s location in relation to the centers. For instance, a corner piece is always located in the midst of 2 centers and is deemed to be in the same position no matter which of the piece’s colors is on the 2 faces.

Likewise, if a corner is located in the same position in case it’s in the midst of the same 3 face irrespective of which of its colors/stickers is on each of the faces.

Orientation refers to the 2 dissimilar ways an edge piece can be in a certain position or the 3 different ways in which a corner piece can be in a certain position.

To solve the cube, you’ve got to place each cube on its correct position with the proper orientation. However, when solving your cube, we recommend that you only concentrate on one of the 2 aspects at a time to avoid confusion.

Final Word

Great! Now you know that there are not 54 or 27 pieces on the cube moving randomly about but rather 26 square pieces, of which only 20 can move. You also know that you can only rotate the whole face as opposed to a single piece, and that you can only move it in 3 different ways (90°, 180° or -90°turns).

These facts are meant to make you understand the cube and find it easier to solve it.

How did you find the post? Your feedback will be most valued.

Richard B. Torres
 

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