Rube Goldberg lives on!
Zed sent this one to me:
WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. — The Purdue Society of Professional Engineers defended their national title in complexity and inefficiency during the 18th National Rube Goldberg Machine Contest with a machine that used 215 steps to shred five sheets of paper.
The annual competition rewards creatively and inefficiency in completing a simple task. This year's task was to create a machine that employed principles of engineering and physics to individually cut or shred five sheets of paper in a minimum of 20 steps.
The team's theme was "The Rube Goldberg Machine Ate My Homework." In route to accomplishing the contest's task, the contraption used an alarm clock, tank of water, hammer, marbles and a "Rube Goldberg-style player piano that played the "Hail, Purdue!" fight song.
The machine, called "Monster," was designed as a child's bedroom inhabited by monsters. A monster under the child's bed completed the task of cutting the paper.
The contest honors the late cartoonist Rube Goldberg, who specialized in drawing whimsical, complicated machines to perform simple tasks. The student-built machines are judged on completion of the task, creativity, the number of steps involved and how well they embrace the Rube Goldberg spirit. Teams also are judged on the creative use of materials and related themes.
In previous contests, students' machines have been required to raise, secure and wave an American flag; select, clean and peel an apple; make a cup of coffee; toast a piece of bread; put a stamp on an envelope; and drop a penny into a piggy bank.
Here's an example of the original Rube Goldberg inventions:
As you raise spoon of soup (A) to your mouth it pulls string (B), thereby jerking ladle (C) which throws cracker (D) past parrot (E). Parrot jumps after cracker and perch (F) tilts, upsetting seeds (G) into pail (H). Extra weight in pail pulls cord (I), which opens and lights automatic cigar lighter (J), setting off sky-rocket (K) which causes sickle (L) to cut string (M) and allow pendulum with attached napkin to swing back and forth thereby wiping off your chin. After the meal, substitute a harmonica for the napkin and you'll be able to entertain the guests with a little music.
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