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Incredible Machines

Rube Goldberg (wikipedia entry) has a lot to answer for:

He earned lasting fame for his “Rube Goldberg machines” — devices that are exceedingly complex and perform very simple tasks in a very indirect and convoluted way.

If they’re done properly they’re great to watch. I’d love to have a go at one if I had the time. Maybe involving it cutting the hedges and mowing the lawn. Various Rube Goldberg style contraptions have been around for years, Back to Future had a ton of them in. 

Widespread recognition in the UK seemed to come with the Honda TV advert called Cog (video download, 11MB). I watched a documentary about it a while back and they given 2 full Honda Accords to work with and after 3 months, thats what they came up with! Actually, cool Honda adverts is a subject in itself.

Fric posted a bizarre and convoluted German built machine a couple of weeks back, which had a very industrial style look to it, whilst Bear mentioned a Google Video link that shows the Japanese once again trumping everyone at it. For me it wins outright due to cunning use of a jar of Marmite. Mmmmmm Marmite…

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