Monday, December 5, 2011

The Physics of a Rube Goldberg Machine

General Ideas:
-It is an overwhelmingly complex machine that is used to accomplish a simple tax (generally appealing to the eyes  to watch)
-Takes advantage of potentially all branches of physics
-Conservation of momentum/energy generally involved in most of the “changes” of the system
-Transfer of energy can potentially occur via any physics concept (a collision, fluid movement (flight, sailing), circular motion, projectile motion etc.).

Difficulties that arise: 

The difficulty with setting up a machine with so many variables involved relates to the specific positioning/energy necessary to cause the machine to function as desired.  To make a Rube Goldberg machine function without issue, meticulous care to detail must be taken in calculations/design. 

Example: OK Go Video

In the video, OK Go (along with Synn Labs) constructed a Rube Goldberg machine that, in the end, sprayed paint at the members of the band.  While filming for the music video, the band claims they had to reset the machine ~60 times in order to get a take that was viable for use on video.  This can be attributed to many external factors (room conditions, non uniform surfaces, etc.). 


The Rube Goldberg machine is a good way to look over the concepts we learned in Phys111 (especially considering that most of the concepts used in the video relate to classical mechanics). - post written by Thomas Mancuso

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