Rube Goldberg Machines

Rube Goldberg was an American inventor and cartoonist, renowned for his cartoons of overly complex machines. Now, nerds everywhere host Rube Goldberg Machine contests to attempt to build incredibly complex machines to complete incredibly simple tasks.

I entered into such contests during each of my four years as an undergraduate at UC Berkeley, along with my fraternity brothers. Here are two of our machines that won first place.

2010: Las Vegas

Goal: Dispense Hand Sanitizer
  1. Ball rolls down coaster
  2. Bellagio fountain turns on
  3. Eiffel tower elevator lifts up
  4. Luxor lights turn on
  5. LED lights turn on
  6. Evel Knievel crashes into Coliseum column
  7. Columns fall
  8. Mirage volcano erupts
  9. Ball rolls through traffic
  10.  Water balloon pops and flows into red mixer
  11. Red mixer turns blue
  12. Cup releases dice catapult
  13. Dice roll through craps shoot
  14. Roulette wheel spins
  15. Blank plate falls
  16. Hand levitates cards
  17. Plate rises with writing
  18. Texas Hold'em "Draw and "Turn" cards revealed
  19. "River" card reveals
  20. Chips fall into cup
  21. Cup pulls slot machine handle and releases it
  22. Spindles spin then stop
  23. Hand sanitizer dispenses

2013: Action Movies

Goal: Hammer a Nail
  1. [Lord of the Rings] Orcish dominoes fall
  2. [LotR] "Ring" is pushed into volcano
  3. [LotR] Mount Doom erupts
  4. [Indiana Jones] Cup full of "lava" triggers boulder trap
  5. [IJ] Boulder rolls down passageway
  6. [IJ] Indie jumps to avoid boulder
  7. [Charlie and the Chocolate Factory] Indie's platform completes a circuit
  8. [CatCF] Willy Wonka's Gumball Elevator lifts everlasting gobstoppers
  9. [CatCF] Gobstoppers fall into a collector
  10. [Frankenstein] Lightning generator spins
  11. [F] Lightning strikes, causing Frankenstein's Monster to awaken
  12. [The Matrix] Neo is scared into doing a backflip
  13. [Back to the Future] The DeLorean races downhill, lighting "flames" in its wake, triggering
  14. [Avengers] Hulk's fist falls, hitting Captain America's shield
  15. [A] Captain America's shield spins, hitting Thor's hammer
  16. [A] Thor's hammer falls, driving Loki (the nail) into the platform