We've brought you Rube Goldberg-style clocks and toys, but none of them are a match for the 156-step device that's just won the annual Rube Goldberg Machine Contest. This year's challenge was to assemble a burger with vegetables, condiments and two bun halves. The meat was pre-cooked... a sensible idea to avoid fires and explosions: you'll understand when you look at the great pics of the machines that MAKE took. Beneath the gallery you'll find a demo video of some of them in action. Sadly we don't have one of the complete 156-step run yet, so you'll just have to imagine its fantasticness.
The whole idea is to create a machine that combines creative thinking with complexity in design, and, most importantly, inefficiency— much in the vein of Goldberg's cartoons.
The winning team, the Purdue Society of Professional Engineers, have had plenty of practice at this— they've won two of the previous three contests. Their machine won them a regional prize earlier in the year, and for the Nationals they added another 55 steps. With somewhere around 5,000 man-hours of work in it, the victory seems well deserved, particularly when the rules stipulate that the task must be achieved in more than 20 steps.