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Kentucky Boy Solves Rubik's Cube In Record Time

ARI SHAPIRO, HOST:

Listen now as a 14-year-old boy sets a new world record to complete a Rubik's Cube at a competition in Maryland.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

KELLY MCEVERS, HOST:

Those rapid clicks are from the fingers of Lucas Etter of Lexington, Ky., and when he stopped and the other contestants looked at the clock, they were shocked.

(CHEERING)

MCEVERS: Etter finished in under five seconds - 4.904 seconds, to be exact. Today Guinness World Records confirmed his win. But how good it must've felt right after it happened on Saturday.

(CHEERING)

SHAPIRO: These contests have been going on since the 1980s when Rubik's Cubes first burst onto the scene, and the winning times have gotten shorter and shorter. NPR first mentioned a Rubik's Cube competition on November 6, 1981.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: All right, everybody. Thirty seconds to look at it. Do not mix it up. Ready? Go.

SHAPIRO: The winning time then - 48.31 seconds.

MCEVERS: And remember, Lucas's win was under five seconds.

SHAPIRO: There's a trick to being fast at solving the complex puzzle. Here's mathematician Matt Parker, on the site Numberphile, explaining how he does it.

MATT PARKER: I memorized a lot of combinations of twists. That's pure rote. And then what I'm doing is, I've just got to spot what I need to do and then do it at the same time. The more advanced people will spot two different things they want to do at the same time and then do those together.

SHAPIRO: Simple, right? Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

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