NTU student sets Rubik's Cube record

Dutch student Mats Valk has set a new world record to solve a 3x3 Rubik's Cube - 4.74 seconds. Seen here in a 2014 photo, he is now on exchange at Nanyang Technological University until next month.
Dutch student Mats Valk has set a new world record to solve a 3x3 Rubik's Cube - 4.74 seconds. Seen here in a 2014 photo, he is now on exchange at Nanyang Technological University until next month.PHOTO: STEVE SHERMAN

In the time you take to finish reading this sentence, exchange student Mats Valk can solve a standard 3x3 Rubik's Cube.

In 4.74 seconds to be exact - a new world record.

The 20-year-old Dutch student's feat - set on Nov 6 at a competition in Indonesia - has gone viral on the Internet.

A YouTube video of his deft moves at the Jawa Timur Open 2016 attracted more than 1.9 million views within a week.

The Free University of Amsterdam student who majors in business analytics, and who is currently on a semester's exchange at Nanyang Technological University until next month, also fielded inquiries from international media, including British paper The Daily Mail and the United States' Fox News.

Said Mr Valk: "It took me a couple of seconds to realise it was a world record."

The previous world record of 4.9 seconds was set last year by American teen Lucas Etter.

Still, Mr Valk believes that future world records could even dip below four seconds. He started solving Rubik's Cubes as a hobby when he was 11.

He recalled: "When I started going to cubing competitions, the world record was 9.55 seconds. It was crazy fast for that time.

"Then people discovered new methods (of solving) and new Rubik's Cubes developed. The two are always improving."

In fact, other than creating algorithm sets for solving the cube puzzle more efficiently, Mr Valk also collaborated with Chinese company Qiyi Mofangge to design a cube that would be ideal for competitions. Named TheValk 3, it is sold commercially.

He said of what motivates him: "I approach it like a hobby. If it's not fun, then there's no point."

•Watch the video of Mats Valk setting the record at facebook.com/Mats.Cubing

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 14, 2016, with the headline 'NTU student sets Rubik's Cube record'. Print Edition | Subscribe