Thursday, June 12, 2008

Machine Day

While most machines are designed to make difficult tasks simple, Rube Goldberg's inventions made simple tasks amazingly complex. Half the fun of looking at a Rube Goldberg machine is figuring out exactly how it works. Dozens of arms, wheels, gears, handles, cups, and rods were put in motion by balls, canary cages, pails, boots, bathtubs, paddles, and live animals for simple tasks like squeezing an orange for juice or closing a window.

Here is a video of an over-the-top Rube Goldberg contraption spanning two houses and designed to open a pair of curtains. My favorite Rube Goldberg video is one Honda made to advertise the Accord; all of the components of the machine are car parts, and some advertise car features when they are in action (like the strength of the speakers). There is nothing like looking at Rube Goldberg's machines to make you appreciate the machines that actually simplify our lives.

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