286: Rube Goldberg

This man was an inventor who delighted in the unusual, and his name is attached to any device that performs a simple function in the most complicated way imaginable, with the most steps. You have seen representations of some of his devices, because they are very popular in cartoons: especially the Road Runner and Tom and Jerry.  There is this incredibly complicated set of circumstances where everything must operate perfectly to achieve the goal. When it works, it is magic.

This one is by Honda, and uses parts from Honda automobiles:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YWk9N92-wvg

This one creates music with bouncing balls: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Mm8D-j4gtJc, or watch this one: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Xu-A0jqMPd8

I used to assign my students Rube Goldberg device contraptions in class – sometimes they worked, and sometimes not, but the students always had a ball designing them, and trying them out to see if they could get them to perform properly. Some of the most fun we had in class, while learning and putting science and physics to work!


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