24 April 2013

5 Amazing Rube Goldberg Machines

People find strange and amazing ways to spend their time. Concocting Rube Goldberg machines is one brilliant example of just how humans choose to express brilliance and wackiness simultaneously. A Rube Goldberg machine is a device that goes to extraordinary and often comic lengths to create a complex machine that performs the most mundane tasks. The challenge is often in the flawless execution of the machine due to the fact that its complexity can cause it to fail nine out of ten times. Indulge your need for the extemporaneous by checking out just a few of these feats of ridiculous engineering.

Read On

Joseph Herscher is an artist that could not find the will to lift his hand in order to turn the page of the newspaper. Instead, he created a machine that that turns the page for him each time he takes a sip of coffee. The machine shifts picture frames to send a ball traveling through an obstacle course set up in the counter above his head. The chaos continues using everything from steam power to melting rubber bands to accomplish his remedial task. After the hamster runs to the far end of its cage, a cylinder of tape rolls off the table, taking the completed newspaper page with it.

Broadcast the Insanity

“Mythbusters,” the popular television show on the Discovery Channel, brought the idea of the Rube Goldberg machine to the masses in a way that is only rivaled by the opening scene in “Back to the Future.” Needless to say, their version of the machine was explosive. Fiery components and Mentos reacting strongly to cola all moved along the action. They did have to do take after take in order to see the entire machine through to the end. Meandering toy robots seemed to cause the most difficulty. However, they eventually were able to make Buster, the crash-test dummy, bite the dust once again.

Child's Play

Rube Goldberg machines invariably contain some kind of small toy at some point in the process. The machine featured in the documentary “Mousetrap to Mars” was composed entirely of children's toys. All the classics were there, including Operation, train sets, and legos. Dominoes and falling marbles led to mechanical toy dogs running on hamster wheels. The ideas were unique and hilarious. The kid in all of us will love the epic conclusion that uses the familiar ending that was so climatic in the classic game “Mousetrap.”

A Moment in Time

Purdue University took an interesting perspective on the idea of this particular type of machine by creating a process that depicted the history of the world. Starting with the big bang, it condenses the journey through history, eventually leaving viewers with the climatic end of time. Full of bones, bugs, frogs, and dinosaurs, this machine broke the world record for the number of components in any one Goldberg machine. Complete with running water, blooming flowers, and even an image of Darth Vader  the eventual apocalypse utilizes smoke screens and wind to reveal the birth of new life on the other side of the cycle.

Limits of Reality

The Rube Goldberg machine seems to only meet its match by facing the laws of physics. However, those laws are stretched a bit when a machine is constructed in the virtual world of MineCraft. The end result is a massive explosion that takes roughly seven minutes to achieve. Massive amounts of falling blocks and multiple angles of viewing make any gamer truly smile at heart. The most thrilling departures from reality include lakes of fire and burning field of debris that reveal cute pop culture creatures.

About Today's Guest Writer:
Michael Denton has more than two decades experience in the field of engineering. He enjoys sharing some of the more fantastic, mind-blowing, and silly feats that engineering brings to our culture. Michael has also contributed to Engineering Management Review, a great resource to find out more about engineering management.

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