Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Spotlight On Technology: Is Popping a Balloon REALLY This Hard??

I love all Rube Goldberg-type contraptions. Anything that can turn something completely mundane into an overly complicated process is OK in my book. As a child, one of my favorite board games was Mouse Trap, because it was so much fun turning the crank and watching the little ball go down the rickety stairs, follow the curved pipe, and trip the spring, sending the other ball through the bathtub and onto the springboard, propelling the diver into the washtub and tripping the cage. Pretty complicated stuff for a young mind. But after taking a look at this video -- well, it makes the Mouse Trap game seem like a perfectly rational way to catch a mouse.
This device, the most elaborate one I've ever seen, was put together by the Purdue Society of Professional Engineers (PSPE) at Purdue University in West Lafayette, IN.  With a total of 300 steps that it goes through to inflate and pop a balloon, it holds the record for the largest functional Rube Goldberg machine.

The team's record is recognized by the World Records Academy, but is still awaiting approval from Guinness World Records. Interestingly, the team is already a Guinness World Record holder for another device that it submitted last year, which had 244 steps.

You can read more about their project at the World Records Academy site, or at Gadgetbox on

As much fun as this is to watch, personally I'll stick with a sharp pin.


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