Rube Goldberg machine goes FTW

Posted by Shane McGlaun

Most of you probably know what a Rube Goldberg machine is, although there may be some of you out there who remain unitiated.

Of course, the name always sounded like the title of a professional wrestler to me, although in reality a Rube Goldberg is a vastly over-engineered machine designed to execute complicated steps for achieving
a very simple task, such as popping a balloon.

The name originated from cartoons drawn by an artist and inventor named Rube Goldberg, who died in 1970. The phrase was officially adopted in 1931 by the Merriam-Webster dictionary and is  defined as accomplishing something simple through complex means.

That definition is perfect for the highly complex machine that the Society of Professional Engineers at Purdue concocted to inflate and pop a balloon. The team set a new world record for the largest Rube Goldberg machine ever created.

This machine is highly complex, as you can see in the video here. It boasts 300-steps along with a rotating vertical board that snaps additional steps into place when needed.

Unfortunately, the video above doesn't offer the best quality, and the steps are activated so quickly it's difficult to make out everything that's going on. Nevertheless, I can still see balls rolling, vacuums being used, oranges being squished, and lots more as the machine progresses.

As noted above, the result of the 300 painstaking steps in this Purdue Rube Goldberg machine is the automatic inflation and popping of a balloon. Frankly, I'd like to see a higher-quality version of the video and perhaps a slow-motion breakdown to get a closer look at what is really going on. For now, I can only imagine how long it took the team of engineers to design and construct this particular machine.