Andy Liu

A funny story with the cube

Andy Liu (13, Canada)

            Cubes look very funny inside. Most would expect a symmetrical, repeating pattern of squares bound together by a magical force. The harsh reality is simply, a unique and unexpected design.

disassembled rubiks cube pieces

            Normally, this abnormality shouldn’t be a worry, who wants to look inside a toy, where the problem is on the surface? But in the case of national security and terrorist prevention, cubes awfully resemble bombs under their scanners.

            For avid cubes like me, bringing cubes over the border can either be frustrating, as securities have no clue what cubes are, or fun because you are forced to solve in front of a non-cuber crowd. A typical interrogation over the Canada-USA border, where I cross frequently, might sound like this:

            “Anything to declare?”

            “3 3×3 cubes, the sticker-less one is magnetized, a 4×4 and a couple other cubes too. I’m attending a competition.”

            “What about the triangle one?”

            “That is a Pyraminx”

            “Please step over and put your hands in the air”

            Luckily, the border cops are always nice to me, despite the annoying “those things are impossible” remarks and the “solve one for me” orders.

            Airport cops are sterner.

When I was flying back from Baltimore to Detroit after a hearty vacation in D.C, I, like everyone else had to traverse the security check. I left my cubes in a bag, and placed the bag on a conveyor belt. I was young enough to only have to walk through the measly metal detector, instead of the bulky gas chamber where adults lined up. I noticed that the cop was taking a long time on one bag, though there was no way to ascertain it was mine.

Next, at the gate, I had to wait for a while before boarding the plane. I took out one of my 3×3’s, the Moyu Aolong V2 and started playing with it. The guy in the seat in front was staring attentively at my cube, and the blur of my fingers.


My cube exploded. Not literally, but half of the pieces dislodged from the rest of the structure and flew away. A priceless face from the stranger occurred, wide-eyes and a gaping mouth. I knew the explosion would be easy to fix, just find the pieces and replace them. Reluctantly, I scavenged for the missing pieces and fitted them back into a cubic form.

There’s not much to take away from that experience. Other than laughing at non-cuber’s stubbornness, just be wary of the cops when your cubes are around.

I still dread the day someone uses a cube to hide a bomb.