43 252 003 274 489 856 000

I respect the cube. I cannot fathom it. I do not want to learn how to do it from anybody else. Instead I want to experience the simple moves that hopelessly and mercilessly turn order into disorder.  Whichever way I turn, disorder gives way to more disorder. It seems as hopeless to restore order as it is to get the spilt milk back into the jug.

György Marx

Imagine a solved Rubik’s cube.  Now imagine just one of the corners mis-coloured. You have imagined an impossible state.

It’s impossible to twist just one corner of the cube clockwise or anticlockwise.  It’s impossible to twist just two corners of the cube clockwise or anticlockwise. The minimum change is three corners twisted clockwise, or three corners twisted anticlockwise.

Quarks are like that too. (Solomon Golomb noticed this first.)  The universe never makes just one quark alone, or just two quarks alone.  The universe only makes three quarks together all at once.  

There’s more. The universe does put a quark and an antiquark together. (Instead of making a proton or neutron this makes a “meson”).  And likewise, the cube allows a twist and an anti-twist on just two corners.

What does quantum chromodynamics have to do with Ernő Rubik’s invention? There is just something similar in their group structure.  Just as a particle’s baryon number must be conserved, so a similar SU(3) like property characterizes the cube. Spooky.

And. 43 252 003 274 489 856 000.

There are 43 252 003 274 489 856 000 possible arrangements of the cube, only 1 of which is correct.

43 252 003 274 489 856 000 states of disorder and 1 state of complete order. Need I say the word?  Entropy.


About isomorphismes

Argonaut: someone engaged in a dangerous but potentially rewarding adventure.
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