Autism and the Rubik’s Cube: creating order from chaos


The Autism Research Trust is hosting a unique discussion on Wednesday 18th June at the Cambridge Union Chamber at Cambridge University to explore how the Rubik’s Cube connects with the fields of mathematics, art and design, music, and autism.

Connecting the Cube to some of these fields requires little explanation, since the remarkable simplicity of the Cube combines with its combinatorial complexity, and the Cube has been a stimulus to generations of children globally tothink about science, design, and technology. Connecting the Cube to autism is a novel idea. People with autism are often drawn to patterns – however simple or complex – and the Cube may hold a particular fascination for them, and reveal their talent at ‘systemizing’. 

Chairing this discussion will be Professor Simon Baron-Cohen, Director of the Autism Research Centre at Cambridge University. He said, “This year is the 40th anniversary of the invention of the iconic Rubik’s Cube. It is a great honour to be chairing this remarkable interdisciplinary panel at the only event in the UK to celebrate the potential of the Cube to inspire. ”

Confirmed panellists include:

  • Professor Erno Rubik, architect and inventor of the Rubik’s Cube
  • Professor Sir Timothy Gowers, Field Medal winner and Royal Society Research Professor at the Department of Pure Mathematics and Mathematical Statistics at the University of Cambridge
  • Derek Paravicini, musical prodigy with autism (who will perform)
  • Adam Ockelford, Professor of Music and Director of the Applied Music Research Centre, University of Roehampton
  • Jon Adams, Visual and sound artist with Asperger Syndrome
  • Jon Adlam, Cambridge psychology undergraduate and number 5 ranked speedcuber in New Zealand

The event is on Wednesday 18th June 2014 from 2pm – 3.30pm. Doors open at 1.30pm. Guests are advised to arrive early as there are no pre-booked seats. To register your interest contact Sam Van Niekerk on

Autism is a lifelong developmental disability that affects how a person communicates with, and relates to, other people. It also affects how they make sense of the world around them. It is a spectrum condition, which means that  while all people with autism share certain difficulties, their condition will affect them in different ways.

For further information please contact Sam Van Niekerk on


The mission of the ARC is to understand the biomedical causes of autism spectrum conditions, and develop new and validated methods for assessment and intervention. The ARC fosters collaboration between scientists in Cambridge University and outside, to accelerate this mission.

Autism Research Centre (ARC), University of Cambridge