Thursday, April 13, 2006

Rube Goldberg Machines around the world (ピタゴラ装置)

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.

A reader sent in a url with cool RGM (Rube Goldberg Machine) video.

In an earlier post, I mentioned the Rube Goldberg machine contest that takes place every year at Purdue University. I see that many countries have their own version of the concept. From Wikipedia,

  • In Britain, such a device would be called a Heath Robinson contraption, after the British cartoonist who also drew fantastic comic machinery, in his case tended by bespectacled men in overalls.
  • In Denmark, they would be called Storm P maskiner after the Danish cartoonist Robert Storm Petersen.
  • In Spain there is not a particular noun to mean such machines, but a reference akin to Goldberg's machines existed: Catalan cartoonist Jordi Sabatés made up and drew many of those devices for a section in the TBO magazine, allegedly designed by some Professor Franz from Copenhagen.
  • The Norwegian cartoonist and storyteller Kjell Aukrust created a cartoon character named Reodor Felgen who constantly invented complex machinery. Though it was often built out of unlikely parts, it always performed very well.
  • In Japan, they are called ピタゴラ装置 (pitagora souchi), which means Pythagorean Machine.

Reader Mitchell Wand wrote in to describe this 10 minute film of Japanese Rube Goldberg machines which is available at I think the it's on youtube and google video as well. It's good.

Some people think the accompanying music is a little bit, I dunno, cloying but it didn't bother me.


william dutton said...

saw that clip a couple of weeks ago when i got fooled into downloading a anime epsoide that was not the epsoide was it was taking a week off airing and they put that clip on, much better quality. if you want to download the avi full screen 15min clip. downlaod this bit torrent.

Jen Wand said...

Interestingly enough, the TV show is called :Pitagora Suiitchi: or Pythagoras Switch... sort of a play on words off of Pitagora Souchi.

(As an aside to the generous reader who sent you the video clp: Hi Dad! yes, you are famous!)

Anonymous said...

Great stuff! Reminds me a lot about Der Lauf Der Dinge.