If you haven't been keeping up with the world of competitive Rubik's Cube solvers, you might think that Tyson Mao's greatest claim to fame was appearing on the second season of Beauty and the Geek.
During his time on the show, he and his partner Thais won the first team challenge on the show, singing “Hot Blooded” by Foreigner in a karaoke contest.
However, while that competition might have gotten Tyson broader exposure, it's actually his skills at solving Rubik's Cubes that have put him in a unique spotlight.
Although Tyson, like many kids in the '80's, had a Rubik's Cube as a toy, but he didn't start to seriously solve until 2003.
July 24, 2003, to be as precise, as one might expect from one of the Beauty and the Geek
's more studious participants. On that day, his brother, Toby, introduced him to the process of speed solving a Rubik's Cube. After about a month, he was speed solving the puzzles with an average time of 1 minute, 22.26 seconds.
In the rapidly-evolving world of competitive solving, best times began quickly decreasing as new solving methods emerged. By September of the next year, Tyson broke the 20-second barrier, with an astonishing best time of 14.18 seconds.
In 2005, Tyson took things to the next level by beginning to solve puzzles blindfolded. A video of this was featured on the front page of Yahoo, and landed him spots on CNN and the Today Show.
While he admits on his blog that cubing doesn't exactly pay the bills, he and his brother have been able to act as Rubik's consultants, teaching Will
Smith how to solve the Cube for the recent film The Pursuit of Happyness
Although anyone who has caught the video on television or YouTube is usually astounded by his skills, the Beauty and the Geek
alum insists that he doesn't have any special abilities, just a dogged determination.
He has said, “I am not special. I can't stress this enough. The reason why I'm fast at the Rubik's Cube, and can solve a Rubik's Cube blindfolded isn't because I'm smart or have good genes. I'm good, because I wanted to be. I cared. I found a passion, and I pursued it. Everyone is quite amazed when I solve a Rubik's Cube blindfolded. They think I'm amazing. What they didn't see was the countless hours I spent, failing time after time, unable to retain the information of the cube in my head. It was hard work. I believe that anyone out there could do what I've done. If they care enough to put in the time, the heart, and the desire, anything is possible in this world.”
- Leslie Seaton, BuddyTV Staff Columnist
Sources: SignOnSanDiego.com, TaiwaneseAmerican.org, TysonMao.com
(Image courtesy of TaiwaneseAmerican.org)