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At the Indiana State Museum and Historic Sites, we are the keepers not only of facts and objects, but also of stories – and it’s part of our mission to share those stories with you. The purpose of this blog is to share the stories of our history, artifacts, volunteers, staff and more. Be sure to check this space for updates, and follow us on social media to learn even more about who we are and what we do across the state of Indiana.

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The step-by-step explanation of a machine inspired by Rube Goldberg

How many steps does it take to ring a bell? It can be quite a few if you create a crazy chain-reaction contraption like Rube Goldberg used to do.

The Pulitzer Prize-winning cartoonist, humorist and inventor created zany contraptions, which came to be known as Rube Goldberg machines. The inventions solved a simple task – like ringing a bell – in the most overcomplicated and hilarious way possible.

Take a look at “The Cooking Machine” – inspired by Rube Goldberg’s iconic machines – then find out how it works for yourself by visiting “Rube Goldberg™: The World of Hilarious Invention! Exhibit” – now open at the Indiana State Museum!

Ringing a bell with the Cooking Machine

First, pull the string. 

This raises the gate and releases the ball.

The ball moves down the ramp and runs into the hammer,

which causes the hammer to swing and hit the ball, sending it on its way

through a funnel onto a scale.

The scale releases a hedgehog

that walks down the ramp and onto a lever

which releases another ball that falls onto a basket.

A lever on the basket activates a pulley system to lower a teapot and 

lift a lever causing the spoon to fall on the bell.

The spoon hits the dinner bell, which causes it to ring.

 

Like this!

 
 
 
 

Now, what wacky way can you come up with to complete a simple task?

Check out other crazy contraptions inspired by Rube Goldberg – and create your own wacky machine! – during your visit to “Rube Goldberg™: The World of Hilarious Invention! Exhibit,” open at the Indiana State Museum through May 10.