Tuesday, March 9, 2010

More about Rube Goldberg machines

If you havent checked out my first post about Ok Go's new video click here.
A Rube Goldberg machine is a deliberately over engineered machine that performs a very simple task in a very complex fashion, usually including a chain reaction. The expression is named after American cartoonist and inventor Rube Goldberg. Wiki


A Rube Goldberg machine performs a simple task in a complex way.

Many designers of Rube Goldberg machines participate in competitions, such as this one in New Mexico.

More video examples of Rube Goldberg machines

"An Honest Mistake", a 2005 music video by the alternative rock band The Bravery

Rube Goldberg machine from the 2005 movie "Waiting"

MythBusters Rube Goldberg Machine


Japanese Rube Goldberg Contest - Amazing Rube Goldberg type machine to fix ramen for dinner   


Rube Goldberg Fire Machine

Rube Goldberg stands in front of an x-ray and sees an idea inside his head showing how to keep shop windows clean.
Passing man (A) slips on banana peel (B) causing him to fall on rake (C). As handle of rake rises it throws horseshoe (D) onto rope (E) which sags, thereby tilting sprinkling can (F). Water (G) saturates mop (H). Pickle terrier (I) thinks it is raining, gets up to run into house and upsets sign (J) throwing it against non-tipping cigar ash receiver (K) which causes it to swing back and forth and swish the mop against window pane, wiping it clean. If man breaks his neck by fall move away before cop arrives.

Rube Goldberg Biography
Rube Goldberg (1883-1970) was a Pulitzer Prize winning cartoonist, sculptor, and author.

Reuben Lucius Goldberg was born in San Francisco on July 4th, 1883. After graduating University of California Berkeley with a degree in engineering, Rube went on to work as an engineer for the City of San Francisco Water and Sewers Department.

After six months Rube shifted gears and left the Sewers Department to become an office boy in the sports department of a San Francisco newspaper. While there he began to submit drawings and cartoons to the editor until he was finally published. Rube soon moved from San Francisco to New York to work for the Evening Mail drawing daily cartoons. This led to syndication and a national presence – and the rest is history.

A founding member of the National Cartoonist Society, a political cartoonist and a Pulitzer Prize winner, Rube was a beloved national figure as well as an often-quoted radio and television personality during his sixty-year professional career. Goldberg wrote a feature film featuring his machines and sculptures called Soup to Nuts which was released in 1930 and starred Ted Healy and The Three Stooges.

Best known for his “inventions”, Rube’s early years as an engineer informed his most acclaimed work. A Rube Goldberg contraption – an elaborate set of arms, wheels, gears, handles, cups, and rods, put in motion by balls, canary cages, pails, boots, bathtubs, paddles, and live animals – takes a simple task and makes it extraordinarily complicated. He had solutions for How To Get The Cotton Out Of An Aspirin Bottle, imagined a Self-Operating Napkin, and created a Simple Alarm Clock – to name just a few of his hilariously depicted drawings.

The promise and pitfalls of modern technology make Rube Goldberg’s inventions even more relevant now than when they were originally created. From think-tanks in Silicon Valley, to the New York Times, to Sunday morning’s Meet the Press, hardly a day goes by without the name “Rube Goldberg” being invoked. In fact Rube Goldberg is an adjective in Webster’s Dictionary.

Today Purdue University hosts the annual National Rube Goldberg Machine Contest which brings Rube’s comic genius to life for millions of fans. Covered widely by the national media, the winning team and their working invention always appears on late night talk shows like David Letterman, Jay Leno, or Jimmy Kimmel Live. To get a real window into the machine contest, go to www.mousetraptomars.com where you can watch a 2 minute clip from the upcoming documentary that chronicles three teams vying for the winning slot. A coffee table book of Rube’s work is being published by Abrams in 2012, along with a calendar and children’s pop-up book.

At a time when the U.S. is looking to inspire young minds, Rube Goldberg’s legacy represents the best in American innovation, humor and unconventional thinking; an inspiring model for us all.

In the media: Various films and cartoons have included highly complex machines that perform simple tasks. Among these are Flåklypa Grand Prix, Looney Tunes, Wallace and Gromit, Pee-wee's Big Adventure, The Way Things Go, Edward Scissorhands, Back to the Future, Honey, I Shrunk the Kids, The Goonies, Gremlins, the Saw film series, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, The Cat from Outer Space, Malcolm and Waiting...

Also in the Final Destination film series the characters often die in Rube Goldberg-esque ways. In the film The Great Mouse Detective, the villain Ratigan attempts to kill the film's heroes, Basil of Baker Street and David Q. Dawson, with a Rube Goldberg style device.

The popular 1963 board game Mouse Trap, as well as its sequels Crazy Clock (1964), and Fish Bait (1965) are based on Rube Goldberg machines. Some examples of Goldberg-inspired videogames are Incredibots, LittleBigPlanet, the 1990s-era series of The Incredible Machine games, and Crazy Machines.

Rube Goldberg gets caught in a revolving door and becomes dizzy enough to dope out an idea to keep you from forgetting to mail your wife's letter.
As you walk past cobbler shop, hook (A) strikes suspended boot (B), causing it to kick football (C) through goal posts (D). Football drops into basket (E) and string (F) tilts sprinkling can, (G) causing water to soak coat tails (H). As coat shrinks, cord (I) opens door (J) of cage, allowing bird (K) to walk out on perch (L) and grab worm (M) which is attached to string (N). This pulls down window shade (O) on which is written, "YOU SAP, MAIL THAT LETTER." A simple way to avoid all this trouble is to marry a wife who can't write.

More information

Rube Goldberg.com
Rube Goldberg Machine Ideas by Jacob Shwirtz
Annual National Rube Goldberg Machine Contest
Rube Goldberg Oral History Interview 1970 Smithsonian Institution Archives

Rube Goldberg mistakes a lot of broken glass for bath salts and when they pull him out of the tub he mumbles an idea for dodging bill collectors
As Tailor (A) fits customer (B) and calls out measurements, college boy (C) mistakes them for football signals and makes a flying tackle at clothing dummy (D). Dummy bumps head against paddle (E) causing it to pull hook (F) and throw bottle (G) on end of folding hat rack (H) which spreads and pushes head of cabbage (I) into net (J). Weight of cabbage pulls cord (K) causing shears (L) to cut string (M). Bag of sand (N) drops on scale (O) and pushes broom (P) against pail of whitewash (Q) which upsets all over you causing you to look like a marble statue and making it impossible for you to be recognized by bill collectors. Don't worry about posing as any particular historical statue because bill collectors don't know much about art.

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