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Purdue Claims World Record Goldberg Machine

samzenpus posted more than 2 years ago | from the keeping-it-complex dept.

Toys 79

With 244 steps The Time Machine, built by by members of the Purdue Society of Professional Engineers and Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers, took first place and broke a world record at the 24th Annual National Rube Goldberg Machine Contest. From the article: "It starts with the Big Bang, re-creates the extinction of the dinosaurs, holds a jousting competition, flips over an album, and simulates World War II, a shuttle launch, the fall of the Berlin Wall, and even the alleged apocalypse in 2012. In its precisely executed review of history, 'The Time Machine,' a Rube Goldberg contraption built by members of the Purdue Society of Professional Engineers and Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers, incorporates a record-breaking 244 steps—all to water a single flower."

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79 comments

Video? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#35885162)

Link to video?

Re:Video? (2)

Kenoli (934612) | more than 2 years ago | (#35885228)

Re:Video? (1)

Threni (635302) | more than 2 years ago | (#35885354)

It's pretty shocking. Rather than a handheld camera to capture the continuous nature of the thing there's a load of cutting here and there; missing the action and so on. It would be nice to see the whole thing in one go.

Re:Video? (1)

Dr Herbert West (1357769) | more than 2 years ago | (#35885602)

This video is horrible. Not being able to see the entire project moving in sequence makes it seem like it's fake.

I'm sure it's not-- but the video doesn't help any.

Re:Video? (2)

pugugly (152978) | more than 2 years ago | (#35885994)

It doesn't feel like my concept of a rube goldberg machine. I had aspect, but it was more a half dozen short rube goldberg chains that were lined up in a raw than the single long chain of cause and effect that defines a rube goldberg machine to me.

Pug

Re:Video? (1)

Opportunist (166417) | more than 2 years ago | (#35889830)

It kinda fails to address what I'm looking for in a Rube Goldberg device: A continuous flow towards the goal. It seem that the goal "water the plant" is more some minor side effect at the end when all the other gadgets are done so hell, turn on the faucet and do what's got to be done, in a fairly "normal" manner considering the contraption that came before it. Pump water through a pipe? Gee, really? Who'd have expected that?

yes... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#35885234)

Yes, but does it run Linux?

And in the end... (2)

Genrou (600910) | more than 2 years ago | (#35885240)

... the answer was 42.

Not Pointless Enough (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#35885270)

I don't think that the steps to the end are useless enough to be a goldberg machine. Everything it does presents a sort of storyline, so it is more of a mechanical play. It's just too useful, or perhaps not abstract enough.

Re:Not Pointless Enough (1)

spud603 (832173) | more than 2 years ago | (#35886044)

I agree. It was complex, sure, but somehow unsatisfying as a goldberg machine. It was unclear exactly how each step led to the next, so it felt more like some behind-the-scenes machinery was making the story go.

Re:Not Pointless Enough (1)

ELitwin (1631305) | more than 2 years ago | (#35886604)

I was about to make the same point.
It seems like there was something controlling the timeline marker that was independent of everything else going on.

Re:Not Pointless Enough (4, Informative)

0100010001010011 (652467) | more than 2 years ago | (#35886744)

It was. I watched this one live at the regional competition. Each step was started with a electromechanical actuator and each one ended on a switch. Each of the stages had microswitches when it was 'reset' and the back panel had lights that lit up when the stage was reset. It allowed it to be debugged easily and if a stage got stuck they could skip it with the switches.

La Raza (-1, Offtopic)

z-j-y (1056250) | more than 2 years ago | (#35885288)

yeah, these racists just can't not mention their spanish heritage anywhere.

by spanish heritage, I mean the murdere and rape Spaniards done to their ancestors.

Re:La Raza (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#35885454)

Is there a "Society of Caucasian Professional Engineers" ?

If not, why?

Re:La Raza (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#35885486)

Because that would be racist. Just like a "Society of Female Professional Engineers" would be ok but a "Society of Male Professional Engineers" would be sexist and discriminatory.

Re:La Raza (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#35886562)

David Cannon , Alex Weaver and Matt Miller

The Hispanic tradition and influence is unmistakable.

Great future (3, Funny)

chill (34294) | more than 2 years ago | (#35885332)

With efficiencies like that, they have a bright future in government.

Re:Great future (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#35886068)

...or any other Fortune 1000 company, business or IT consulting, etc.

Oh yeah. .. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#35885338)

It's got nothing on our corporate network diagram.

Lego Machine (5, Interesting)

ShavedOrangutan (1930630) | more than 2 years ago | (#35885346)

On Makezine yesterday:

http://blog.makezine.com/archive/2011/04/elaborate-and-mesmerizing-lego-great-ball-contraption.html [makezine.com]

This is eight minutes of pure awesome.

Re:Lego Machine (1)

camperdave (969942) | more than 2 years ago | (#35886160)

That was impressive. I wish I had that much Lego. Too bad they didn't separate the balls earlier and have two separate paths for them through the entire machine rather than just the one dual conveyor belt into the same bin.

Re:Lego Machine (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#35886674)

Thanks for showing how Linux works. Great demonstration of what happens to make a letter appear onscreen when you press a key.

Compared to other RG machines... (1)

chispito (1870390) | more than 2 years ago | (#35885360)

This one leaves me unimpressed. It's more of a puppet show with some random steel balls rolling around and water being poured. The really captivating RG machines use everyday objects and simple geometrical shapes to achieve complex interactions.

Re:Compared to other RG machines... (1)

inputdev (1252080) | more than 2 years ago | (#35885428)

The really captivating RG machines use everyday objects and simple geometrical shapes to achieve complex interactions.

not to mention clever uses of potential energy like pails falling down that are attached to a pulley bringing something back up so that it can fall down again. This seemed like a sequence of motors being driven by a battery...

the mythbusters did a better job if they had more (1)

Joe The Dragon (967727) | more than 2 years ago | (#35885852)

the mythbusters did a better job if they had more time it would not of failed as much as it did.

Re:the mythbusters did a better job if they had mo (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#35890862)

Much the same as you, with English.

Re:Compared to other RG machines... (1)

Idimmu Xul (204345) | more than 2 years ago | (#35886138)

This one leaves me unimpressed. It's more of a puppet show with some random steel balls rolling around and water being poured. The really captivating RG machines use everyday objects and simple geometrical shapes to achieve complex interactions.

I quite agree! Unfortunately, from the article :

The simplest-looking modules, such as the flower-blossoming finale, turned out to be deceptively intricate. That step begins with a rubber duck in a water tank behind the scenes. As the duck sinks, it pulls a weight, which hits a mousetrap, which releases a pneumatic cylinder, which fires forward and pulls a string, lifting the different levels of the flower simultaneously. Conversely, the processes that seemed the most complicated were often straightforward: The pyramid is able to erect itself (40 seconds into the video) because of fishing line pulled through some washers by an electric mixer.

Seeing all this stuff happen is what makes RG machines fun, behind the scenes is just boring! A case of too clever for their own good :(

Re:Compared to other RG machines... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#35888450)

This POS shouldn't even qualify as a RG machine. Far too many electronic interactions. One could easily have the same thing run with timers on the relays to make sure all the 'dominoes' fall properly. Once you resort to switches and relays, why not just give the record to a PC? How many steps did it take for that key I just pressed to put a letter on the screen? Or for you to read it after I simply click Submit? I'm sure anything run in flash could easily get the record for most steps required to accomplish something useless.

Re:Compared to other RG machines... (1)

kubernet3s (1954672) | more than 2 years ago | (#35893134)

It's a series of dominoes attached to mechanically actuated levers. As each point in the circuit trips, a domino is lowered, very carefully, to the ground. The fact that everything here was mechanically actuated and bypassable means that it's not an RG machine: nothing depends on the step before it except in theory

Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers? (1, Insightful)

XxtraLarGe (551297) | more than 2 years ago | (#35885366)

I don't get it. I can understand having separate cultural student groups when the goal is to celebrate your culture, but is there any reason why Hispanics need their own separate Engineer society? Is there something different about Hispanic engineering or does this mean the Society of Professional Engineers excludes Hispanics? Can't we all just get along?

Re:Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers? (2, Insightful)

jtownatpunk.net (245670) | more than 2 years ago | (#35885436)

Note the complete lack of Hispanics in the picture and lack of Hispanic names in the article. It's probably just a way to apply for minority grants and such.

Re:Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers? (1)

The Great Pretender (975978) | more than 2 years ago | (#35885848)

Hey my kids hispanic! Okay he's 6ft 3" white and built like a barn door, but his mum's a Mexican! you leave our scholarships alone!!

Re:Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers? (1)

JonySuede (1908576) | more than 2 years ago | (#35885462)

yeah there is a difference, Hispanic engineering gets you more woman than Caucasian engineering

Re:Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#35885590)

Also gets you less jail time than African engineering.

Re:Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#35889888)

Hispanic engineers do all their coding with NetBeans.

Re:Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers? (1)

MrQuacker (1938262) | more than 2 years ago | (#35885738)

But make a "White Engineers" club, and suddenly you're a racist...

Re:Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#35889368)

Exactly. My kid's school had a native carving session which Native Indians need only apply. I complained to the principal who passed the buck and said it was dictated at the school district level.

Re:Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers? (1)

mr100percent (57156) | more than 2 years ago | (#35887294)

They don't NEED such a group, but the reason minorities form such groups is for several reasons. One is Networking, which will help you secure a good job, Another is to encourage more people in that minority group to enter the profession; e.g. The Society of Women Engineers.

Re:Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers? (1)

captain_sweatpants (1997280) | more than 2 years ago | (#35887912)

That doesn't make it any less sexist/racist though. It's just socially acceptable to be prejudiced against white males. And it really shouldn't be. The vast majority of white men actually aren't super wealthy and successful and need help and acceptance in life and work as much as anybody.

Re:Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers? (1)

sg_oneill (159032) | more than 2 years ago | (#35888230)

I don't get it. I can understand having separate cultural student groups when the goal is to celebrate your culture, but is there any reason why Hispanics need their own separate Engineer society? Is there something different about Hispanic engineering or does this mean the Society of Professional Engineers excludes Hispanics? Can't we all just get along?

Uh. To encourage hispanic people to enter the field and provide professional development for them? Hispanic folk have found themselves facing a lot more employment discrimination and education discrimination than regular white folk and so felt it necessary to put a club together to try and fix that.

Or are you just angry about hispanics for some reason?

i hate to tell you this (1)

decora (1710862) | more than 2 years ago | (#35888488)

sit down you might not be ready to hear this.

there is still racism in business, and most business dudes are not hispanic

i know i know. i told you you should have sat down.

Re:Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers? (1)

phantomcircuit (938963) | more than 2 years ago | (#35889636)

Didn't you get the memo? Racism is O.K. as long as you're not white.

Re:Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#35892436)

Awwwwwww -pout- perhaps us mixed-race hybrids should shoulder that burden of persecution for you, so you can lower yourself to a racial argument as well. Your family line will be absorbed into our genetic stew eventually, I believe we're strong enough to piggyback you until then.
-pats head- there there, it'll be all right...

Re:Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers? (1)

Slutticus (1237534) | more than 2 years ago | (#35890350)

I was in SHiPE in college. No big deal, just an organization trying to advance an underrepresented group in the engineering field. I can assure you the parties were way better than AIChE or ASME (and definitely better than SWE). In any case, relax. We can't all take your jobs. (or can we?)

Let me guess...a film student made the video? (3, Insightful)

RapmasterT (787426) | more than 2 years ago | (#35885544)

The video lost all perspective of what a Rube Goldberg machine is about. The edits, cuts, overly zoomed and segmented action completely invalidates the purpose of the exercise. Was it a seamless execution of 244 sequential steps...or was it 244 individual actions filmed and edited together...can't tell from the video can ya. There's at least one segment that had a clear failure (the ice age downhill slalom jammed).

All in all, it was (probably) a great engineering effort that was ruined by someone trying to exercise clever video skills.

Re:Let me guess...a film student made the video? (3, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#35885650)

There's a much better take available at Purdue's newsroom [purdue.edu]. It looks like it didn't run quite perfectly, though (the timeline arrow never hit the end).

Ugly (3, Insightful)

O('_')O_Bush (1162487) | more than 2 years ago | (#35885560)

The amount of electrical devices (drills, actuators, etc) that are merely switched on and the seeming lack of creativity with the items in the machine makes it ugly, imo. That and the large amounts of spray-paint.

!= Honda's machine... (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#35885566)

I must say.. Honda's is way better.

There's WAY too much machine here, not enough physics. Drop a ball, hit this switch, pull this string. I'm sure it took a lot of hard work, but it's not impressive at all IMO.

Possible career path (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#35885580)

"Purdue Society of Professional Engineers and Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers, incorporates a record-breaking 244 steps—all to water a single flower"

Taking 244 steps to water a single flower shows serious potential in government work.

So our software quality process inventor was R.G.! (1)

ChucktheMan (1991030) | more than 2 years ago | (#35886092)

244 steps seems like way too few. Oh. This is not software development quality assurance, just students playing. Wait until they see the Rube Goldberg processes out here in the real world. They will probably retreat back into MBA school in horror.

Oxymoron in action (1)

JPyObjC Dude (772176) | more than 2 years ago | (#35886226)

I have never thought that a Goldberg machine can be actually partially useful such as teaching history (albeit very loosely).

Maybe they should create a new class of Goldberg machines to provide some educational purpose ;)

- JsD

Not as well known as the Honda one... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#35887280)

But the song for it might be a little catchier http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qybUFnY7Y8w

http://www.fullmalls.com (0)

xiaojiekytt (2053178) | more than 2 years ago | (#35887586)

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No animals involved? (1)

sabt-pestnu (967671) | more than 2 years ago | (#35897904)

I was under the impression that an authentic rube goldberg device had to involve at least one live animal in the process. (from the rube goldberg cartoons)

No such requirement seems evident in the contest.

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