“World’s Greatest Billiards Shot” is actually a feat of puzzly engineering!

I stumbled upon this video recently, and the bombastic headline caught my eye: “World’s greatest billiard shot spanned two floors and nine tables.”

As someone who enjoys pool and trick shots, I clicked on it. But, as it turns out, this isn’t the world’s greatest billiard shot.

It is, however, one heck of a Rube Goldberg machine made out of billiards gear.

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 below.

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.

And they’ve been around long enough that we’re starting to see fun variations on the concept. Beyond simply accomplishing a task, many Rube Goldberg devices tell stories or center around a given theme. (We even featured one that was designed to take weeks to complete!)

This video fits nicely into that grand tradition of overly complicated mechanical devices that accomplish something simple.

So, without further ado, I give you the Allstars Sports Bar Rube Goldberg device:


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It’s Follow-Up Friday: LEG-OH NO WAY edition!

Welcome to Follow-Up Friday!

By this time, you know the drill. Follow-Up Friday is a chance for us to revisit the subjects of previous posts and bring the PuzzleNation audience up to speed on all things puzzly.

It’s been quite a week here at PuzzleNation Blog!

After posts that ran the gamut from Comic-Con encryption puzzles and new puzzle sets for the Penny Dell Crosswords app to becoming a sharper Hangman or Guess Who? player and enjoying the puzzly chain reactions known as Rube Goldberg devices, I was left with quite a conundrum: How do I close out such an eclectic week?

This will be my sixth post in six days after all. What would be an appropriate capper?

Well, I think I found the perfect Friday post idea: some visual LEGO puzzle wizardry.

Specifically, it’s a moving piece of puzzle art that combines the visual wonder of the pop-up book with the puzzly skill of a LEGO master builder.

I give you the LEGO Pop-Up Himeji Castle:

I’ve watched the video over and over, and I have no idea how the castle fits together OR compresses itself flat enough to fit between the “covers.” This is mind-blowing LEGO skill and puzzly three-dimensional manipulation of space.

And apparently, this sort of next-level three-dimensional spatial reasoning is second-nature to YouTuber Talapz, since he also managed to create this multi-dimensional sculpture that allows a ball to traverse it in three different arrangements:

I first stumbled across Talapz’s works on this site (written in French, no less!), and quickly followed his work on his YouTube page. Be sure to click the link for more brain-melting works of puzzly LEGO art.


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It’s Follow-Up Friday: Subway Time Travel edition!

Welcome to Follow-Up Friday!

By this time, you know the drill. Follow-Up Friday is a chance for us to revisit the subjects of previous posts and bring the PuzzleNation audience up to speed on all things puzzly.

And today, I’d like to return to the subject of puzzly events!

I’m a huge fan of events where puzzly-minded people get together and create something new. Whether it’s a festival of indie games or a Rube Goldberg machine about Passover, a prom-themed puzzle tournament or a crossword contest about a crossword contest, anything is possible when folks with a mind for puzzle fun collaborate.

The team at Improv Everywhere know this better than most, as they’ve put together some terrific live experiences to entertain unsuspecting strangers.

In the past, they’ve staged a repeating time loop at a coffee shop, recreated the opening of Star Wars on a subway, and (my personal favorite) made a cabbie the hero of a reunion right out of a romantic comedy.

This time around, they faked time travel with four sets of twins. Check it out!

You can explore the full details of the prank/performance here, as well as many other “missions” from their past, but sufficed to say, it took a fair amount of puzzly skills and improvisational style to pull this off!

I wonder what delightful trickery they’ll attempt next.


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It’s Follow-Up Friday: Passover Puzzling edition!

Welcome to Follow-Up Friday!

By this time, you know the drill. Follow-Up Friday is a chance for us to revisit the subjects of previous posts and bring the PuzzleNation audience up to speed on all things puzzly.

And in today’s post, I’m returning to the subject of Rube Goldberg machines.

[Click here or on the image for a larger version.]

For the uninitiated, a Rube Goldberg machine is an intentionally overcomplicated device that uses multiple steps to accomplish a simple task. It’s an exercise in creative inefficiency, and a delightful one at that.

But some Rube Goldberg machines are designed to give those odd intermediate steps greater meaning, so that instead of an elaborate series of domino-style mechanical events leading to one minor accomplishment, several things are accomplished along the way.

And every once in a while, a Rube Goldberg machine tells a story, using those intermediate steps to depict meaningful events along the way. It’s a colorful and inventive way to teach, one that definitely grabs your attention.

The Jewish festival of Passover begins tonight, and I recently stumbled across a Rube Goldberg device that presents the story of Passover, including the liberation from slavery in Egypt, the plagues, and Moses leading the Exodus.

Enjoy:

You know, if other important historical events were told in Rube Goldberg fashion, I think history classes would be far more popular. Just saying.


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