Baltimore’s Own Rubik’s Cube Champion

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A Rubik’s Cube is a seemingly simple object until you start considering the math involved. That there are 43 quintillion possible opening configurations, for one. There are 239,500,800 possible edge arrangements. And if you’re Dan Cohen, you can solve the cube in ten seconds. It takes him a little longer — just over a minute and a half — to complete the puzzle with his feet.

Yes, Dan Cohen is a Rubik’s Cube champion. He’s also 22, and a candidate for a master’s in audio sciences at the Peabody Conservatory. The cube obsession began in high school, and has led him to dozens of competitions everywhere from Germany to Thailand. He placed second in last year’s U.S. Nationals, and 36th in the World Championship.

Even more impressively, Cohen is the best in the nation at the absurdly complex 4×4 and 5×5 cubes, which are a true math geek’s dream — these competitions are less about finger speed and more about understanding the algorithms. The 5×5 cube has 283 duodecillion permutations. Cohen has solved it in under a minute.

Watch a video of Cohen speed cubing here.