For the first known time ever, a Rubik’s cube has been solved with a single last step – the so-called “Full 1 Look Last Layer”, or “Full 1LLL". If you’ve no idea what that means – or why it’s so impressive – read on.
Solving a Rubik’s cube has sort of become shorthand for “I’m a genius” in the modern visual lexicon – it’s how Peter Parker shows us his braininess in The Amazing Spider-Man, it’s what got Will Smith a fancy job for nerds in The Pursuit of Happyness (and also in Fresh Prince, weirdly enough – you a cubehead, Smith?) and the character introduced with a Rubik’s cube in Brick is literally called “The Brain.”
It’s a pattern, is what we’re getting at – but it really shouldn’t be. Sure, not anybody can solve a Rubik’s cube – but anybody with access to YouTube can.
That’s right: it turns out solving a cube is not about brilliance so much as persistence. All you have to do is learn the right series of steps – or “looks”, to use enthusiasts’ own terminology – and you, too, can make a small cube of a single color on each side.
If you’re just a beginner, you’ll probably be using a layer-by-layer (LBL) method. It’s exactly what it sounds like: you solve the cube one layer at a time.
Now, your gut instinct is likely to be to start at the bottom and work your way up to the top layer, but that’s by no means mandatory – which is why cube-thusiasts make a distinction between “top layer” and “last layer”.
See, the Last Layer is something of a prize among speedsolvers, with dozens of very specific named methods laid out for solving it. The very best solvers out there can do this last layer in just two looks – for example, using the Fridrich method, which finishes the puzzle with a one-two punch of orientation then permutation.
But that law has just been broken. For the first known time, a solver has completed the last layer of a Rubik’s cube using just one look.
There’s a good reason nobody has achieved the Full 1LLL before: while it’s long been known to be possible in theory, actually doing it would require a solver to memorize close to 4,000 possible sequences of moves.
“It's like the ‘hardest thing possible in cubing’,” wrote Brazilian YouTuber edmarter under an August 4 Reddit post showing his completion of the Full 1LLL.
“A lot of people get [struggle] in learning [h]ow to solve a cube,” he explained, since even beginners’ methods require a solver to memorize six different algorithms. “Some people learn [h]ow to solve a cube but can't evolve, since the ‘advanced method[s]’ have 121 algorithm[s] … 1LLL has 3916 algorithms.”
So the fact that video evidence of the feat has been posted – albeit semi-anonymously, by Marter himself – is something of a big deal in the cubing community. The top-voted comment under the video perhaps expresses it best: “This is absolutely insane.”
“Learning 1LLL might be the biggest cubing accomplishment of all time,” says another commenter. “Nothing but respect.”
Edmarter told commenters he memorized 144 sequences a day to complete the full 1LLL, grinding through them for one hour per day, six days per week. It’s not the kind of thing most of us would choose to do – and now he’s made his name in the cubing community, he admits he “[doesn’t] have the head to” keep on drilling himself daily.
In any case, as he pointed out, he’s now “the first, and the only person to know [1LLL] fully.” And really, where would he even go from there?