Largest Rube Goldberg machine: Purdue University sets world record (Video)
WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind., USA -- A team from the Purdue Society of Professional Engineers and Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers won the 29th annual Purdue Regional Rube Goldberg Machine Contest with a "Time Machine" that traced the history of the world in 232 steps -
setting the new world record for the Largest Rube Goldberg machine. Photo: David Cannon (from left), Alex Weaver and Matt Miller react to a flawless run of their World's Largest Rube Goldberg Machine. Photo: Purdue University /Mark Simons (enlarge photo)
The previous Guinness world record
for the largest functional rube goldberg machine consisted of 230 different steps and was made by Katsumi Takahashi (Japan) and members of the Ferris State University, College of Technology's Rube Goldberg Machine Team (USA)
Guinness World Records also recognized the largest popcorn machine in the world, built by Greg Scott Abbott, Wink Eller, Lisa Lejohn, Eric Scarlett, Christoff Koon, Charles Cretors (all USA); it measures 6.77 m (22 ft 2.75 in) tall, 2.92 m (9 ft 7 in) wide, 2.46 m (8 ft 1.1 in) deep.
The new World's Largest Rube Goldberg Machine was based on a time machine that followed the history of the world from the big bang to the present. It took 232 steps to finally reach a symbol of hope for the future, a mystery box that, when opened by the machine, produced a plant and a watering can.
David Cannon, Alex Weaver and Matt Miller, members of the engineering fraternity Theta Tau, were handed the task of building a complex machine to do something simple, using at least twenty steps. They wound up creating a machine that uses 232 steps, two more than the current world record of 230.
Captain Zach Umperovitch said the 17 team members spent 2,500 man hours building the machine.
Machines must use at least 20 steps to complete the task in no more than two minutes. Teams have three tries to complete two runs. Points are deducted if students have to assist the machine once it has started.
The winning machine had one flawless run completed in 1 minute 50 seconds. Of the other runs, one required one assist and the other two assists.
Inspired by cartoonist Rube Goldberg, college students nationwide compete to design a machine that uses the most complex process to complete a simple task - put a stamp on an envelope, screw in a light bulb, make a cup of coffee - in 20 or more steps.
The contest began as a rivalry between two Purdue engineering fraternities and was popular at Purdue in the 1940s and 1950s. It was revived in 1983.
The competition is sponsored by the Purdue University campus chapter of Theta Tau, a professional engineering fraternity.
The 2012 task will be to inflate and then pop a balloon.