A normal 3x3 Rubik's Cube has six sides, 21 pieces and 54 outer surfaces. Each side of the cube has a different color. The cube can be twisted in from all sides, effectively scrambling the cube.
There are over 43 quintillion possible configurations [43,252,003,274,489,856,000], yet there is only one solution. That is a number so big that no one can honestly comprehend how many that is. Let's try to put this into terms we can understand. If we did one turn per second, it would take about 1400 trillion years to see every possible state of the cube. Some scientists predict the universe to be around 13 billion years old. WOAH!
There is an event in competition's, which is to try to solve the cube in the fewest moves possible. The world record stands at 28 and the top competitors in this event can only average in the 30's. However, from any position the Rubik's Cube can be solved in 20 moves or less! The name for the solution to the cube requiring the fewest moves possible is God's Algorithm.
If you're interested in the math to all this, some of it is listed below.
There are 8 corner pieces, so the number of possible arrangements equals 8! (or 8x7x6x5x4x3x2x1), which is 40320. Each corner piece has 3 different orientations, so this figure must be multiplied by 38 (3x3x3x3x3x3x3x3), which equals 6561. But when the Cube is almost complete, the number of possible moves diminishes, so the equation must be adjusted. In this case, once the second from last corner piece is placed, the last piece can have only one automatic orientation, so 6561 must be divided by 37, which is 2187. Finally, the total possible arrangements of corner pieces
40320 x 2187 = 88,179,840.
With the 12 Edge Pieces, the number of possible arrangements equals 12! (12x11x10…), which is 479,001,600. However, unlike corner pieces, it is impossible to exchange just two edge pieces, so once the third from last is placed, the remaining two can have only one possible arrangement, which means this figure must be divided by 2, leaving 239,500,800. Each edge piece has two different orientations, so this must now be multiplied by 212, which gives 6561. This figure must also be adjusted because once the third from last edge piece is placed, one of the remaining two can be reoriented but the last will always have a fixed orientation in relation to it. So 6561 must be divided by 211, which is 2048. Finally, the total possible arrangements of edge pieces
239,500,800 x 2048 = 490,497,638,400.
So the total possible arrangements of Rubik's Cube
88,179,840 x 490,497,638,400 = 43,252,003,274,489,856,000.
Today over 300 million cubes have been sold and some people say that as many as 1/8 people in the world have played with the cube, and in the 80's when there was the huge craze, 1/5 had twisted the cube. It's to the point where people are even becoming addicted to the cube. In the 80's Rubik's Cube addicts were frequently called Cubic Rubes, and even today some people suffer from what has become known as "Rubik's Wrist" and "Cubist's Thumb". The art of speedcubing is spreading like wildfire and doesn't appear to be slowing down. Thanks to the WCA every year there are more and more competitions in more and more places. So every year it's getting easier to attend competitions more frequently and closer to home. One way or another though, the Rubik's Cube craze of today, is just beginning.
Much Info From: