The Rubik's Clock was another one of those fiendish puzzles released in the late 80's by Erno Rubik. However, it wasn't actually Rubik that invented the clock - it was created by Christopher Wiggs and Christopher Taylor, who also invented The Rubik's Orb. The object of the puzzle is to get each of the 18 clock faces (9 on each side) to point to 12 o'clock, a task that seems very intimidating at first glance, but has a surprisingly easy and straightforward solution.
The actual puzzle itself is comprised of a plastic "clock" that is roughly the size of a CD and approximately 2cm thick. On each side of the clock, there are nine individual clock faces arranged in a 3x3 square, and on the four corner faces you'll find a dial that can be used to rotate the faces in either direction. Turning these dials will rotate the clock faces on both the front and back of the puzzle (at the same time). Furthermore, there are four yellow push buttons arranged around the centre face and having these buttons pushed in or out will dictate which of the faces will rotate when the corner dials are turned. For example, having all four buttons pushed out will make all nine faces rotate at the same time, whereas having the four buttons pushed in means only the four corner faces will rotate. This all seems quite simple, until you realise that the four yellow buttons are the cause of the hardest part of the puzzle: having a button pushed in on on the front means that the same button on the back is pushed out. So using the same example as above, having all of the buttons pushed out on the front side will cause all nine front faces to rotate. But on the back side, the four buttons count as being pushed in, meaning that only the four corners will rotate. And of course, the faces on the front and back will turn at the same time. Very confusing.
According to mathworld.wolfram.com, there are 12^18 possible configurations of the 18 clock faces, however not all of them are achievable. Unfortunately, I cant find how many configurations are possible, so if you know, /msg me and I'll correct it.
My own personal experience with a Rubik's Clock started back when I was wee nipper at the age of ten. My grandparents bought me the clock for a christmas present (I was really into puzzles at that age), and they didn't hear a peep out of me all day, only the quiet "click-click-click" of the dials being turned!
Recently, I took a Rubik's Clock to work, and have found the reactions of my co-workers to be very amusing. There seem to be two different groups of people, who I class as the "Knowers" and the "Seekers". The Knowers will pick it up proclaiming "I remember these!" and then commence to fiddle with it for 5 minutes, turning the clocks this way and that, before putting it down with a sigh and saying "I never could figure it out." The Seekers will look at it and say "What's that?", and after a brief explanation, turn the clocks around and push the buttons before throwing it down saying "thats worse than a Rubik's Cube, at least that had pretty colours!"
So for all the Knowers and Seekers out there, I present you with the Rubik's Clock Solution. I must confess that I didnt figure this out for myself, the information was gleaned from different websites. A quick search on Google for "Rubik's Clock" will return a few sites with the solution on it. However, I present to you my version of the solution.
How To Solve a Rubik's Clock
The process can be split into two parts: solving the cross and solving the corners. To understand what I mean by "the cross" and "the corners", take a look at the nine clock faces. If you dont have a Rubik's Clock to hand, think of nine circles arranged in a 3x3 square. The cross is the centre clock face on each side of the square along with the middle clock. The remaining four clocks on each corner of the square are what I refer to as the corners (pretty self-explanatory), and these are also where you can find the dials to rotate all the faces. Once one side has been solved, you can just flip the puzzle over and repeat the two parts on the second side.
Solving the cross:
- Start with all four buttons pushed out, and using any one of the dials, rotate all the clocks until the middle clock is at 12.
- Now push in the top two buttons.
- Using either of the bottom two dials, rotate the middle clock face until it points in the same direction as the top-middle clock.
- Push out the top two buttons and push in the two right buttons.
- With either of the left dials, rotate the clocks until the middle clock points to the same direction as the right-middle clock.
- Push out the two right buttons and push in the bottom two buttons.
- Turn one of the top dials until the middle clock points the same way as the bottom-middle clock.
- Push out the bottom two buttons and push in the two left buttons.
- Use either one of the right dials to turn the middle clock to the same direction as the left-middle clock.
- Push out the two left buttons and use any of the dials to rotate the middle clock to 12. You should now have all five clocks in the cross shape pointing to 12.
Solving the corners:
- Push in the top right button.
- Use any dial other than the one located at the top right to turn all clocks until the middle clock points in the same direction as the top right clock.
- Push out the top right button, push in the bottom right button.
- Use any dial apart from the bottom right one to rotate all clocks until the middle clock is aligned with the bottom right dial.
- Push out the bottom right button, push in the bottom left button.
- Rotate the middle clock to the same direction as the bottom left clock without using the bottom left dial.
- Push out the bottom left button, push in the top left button.
- Rotate the middle clock until it points in the same direction as the top left clock (without using the top right dial).
- Push out the top left button (so all buttons are pushed out) then rotate all the clocks to the 12 o'clock position.
Congratulations, you now have one side complete! All that needs to be done now is for you to flip over the puzzle, and follow the same steps as before. Once this has been done, you will have solved the Rubik's Clock. You'll be the envy of all your friends and girls will love you!