Today I will be posting about the fabulous world of contraptions. Incredible machines that do the simplest things in the most complicated of ways, such as the self operating napkin pictured below.
The “Self-Operating Napkin” is activated when the soup spoon (A) is raised to mouth, pulling string (B) and thereby jerking ladle (C), which throws cracker (D) past parrot (E). Parrot jumps after cracker and perch (F) tilts, upsetting seeds (G) into pail (H). Extra weight in pail pulls cord (I), which opens and lights automatic lighter (J), setting off skyrocket (K), which causes sickle (L) to cut string (M) and allow the pendulum with the attached napkin to swing back and forth, thereby wiping chin!
The king of contraptions, and the brain behind the one pictured above is Rube Goldberg. In fact, his name is so synonymous with these useless machines that in 1931 the Merriam-Webster dictionary adopted the word “Rube Goldberg” as an adjective to describe the act of accomplishing something simple through complex means! Goldberg, a trained engineer, began to draw his contraptions in order to poke fun at the many complicated inventions that were available at the beginning of the century, and at the round-about methods people divised for solving their problems. His cartoons were published in numerous newspapers, but the drawings that he is best known for are those of Professor Lucifer Gorgonzola Butts and his incredible contraptions.
More Rube Goldberg machines to follow!