A Rube Goldberg machine, for the uninitiated, is a device designed to accomplish a simple task in as many unnecessary, ludicrous steps as possible. The name comes, appropriately enough, from Rube Goldberg, a cartoonist and inventor most famous for his cartoons featuring singularly silly and elaborate machines like the one pictured above.
We’ve posted videos of Rube Goldberg machines in the past, because they’re a perfect example of a mechanical puzzle in action. Only when things happen in a precise order does the machine complete its task.
There are numerous competitions pitting clever puzzlers and inventors against each other to build the most spectacular and labyrinthine Rube Goldberg device, but Purdue University’s competition has become one of the most prominent.
(Note: they haven’t yet updated their website with the results of the 2014 competition.)
This year’s competition involved zipping up a zipper, and the winning team did something no other team has done before: they placed a person inside the machine and let it run.
Check out this video from Jimmy Kimmel Live, featuring the team and their winning Rube Goldberg machine. It’s pretty great:
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