World's Largest Rube Goldberg Machine (Screenshot: YouTube)

From movies like Pee-wee’s Big Adventure to the music videos of OK Go, not to mention that impossible-to-win Mouse Trap game, the Rube Goldberg machine has a proud legacy in pop culture. Named for an American cartoonist and inventor, it’s any elaborate contraption that takes many complicated steps to perform a single, simple task, e.g., turning on a light switch. For decades, there have been competitions to make the most convoluted and impractical Rube Goldberg machines possible, but Guinness has bestowed the current crown on a team from Scandiweb, a Latvian e-commerce company. This record-setting machine takes over four minutes and dozens of ridiculous but delightful steps in order to light a giant Christmas tree in the town of Riga. Look upon this monstrosity:

This one mainly involves a series of wheels and spheroids traveling down chutes, hitting things along the way. But there are plenty of marvelously gratuitous embellishments in this chain reaction, too, including a rubber duck, an umbrella, an accordion, a steam iron, a dart board, and various power tools. Drawing inspiration from Goldberg’s own cartoons, which date back to 1914, the idea is to be as outrageous and silly as possible, generally piecing the machine together from spare parts that might be found in an attic, garage, or basement. There’s some drama in watching it all unfold—if one thing goes awry, so will the whole machine—but it’s all worth it once that tree lights up.


[via Laughing Squid]