THIS WEEK IN STEM HISTORY: happy birthday Rube Goldberg!

Wait.... who is Rube Goldberg? 

You might not know who Rube Goldberg was, but you certainly have seen his work. Whether it was his cartoons, the breakfast machine in MGM's "Chitty Chitty Bang Bang" or an OK GO music video... not to mention one of his fabulous contraptions made out of every day household items


Rube Goldberg

Born July 4, 1883

"Artist, Inventor, Adjective"

Adjective? Yes, that's right, Rube Goldberg is the only person in the Webster dictionary to be listed as such

A Pulitzer Prize winner, Rube Goldberg is best known  as an illustrator, creating  a series of popular cartoons depicting complicated gadgets that perform simple tasks in indirect, convoluted ways, giving rise to the term Rube Goldberg machines for any similar gadget or process. Having received his degree from UC Berkeley in Engineering, Rube's mechanical mind can be seen through his entire life's work. At the dawn of the industrial revolution, when modern appliances, gizmos, and gadgets were primed to change our lives for the better, Rube’s work struck a nerve with the American public as he cast his satirical eye on the machine age. 

The inventions that made Rube Goldberg a household name were rendered in the exact style of US Patent applications with each transfer of energy annotated by a letter so that the reader could follow the chain reaction sequence. Rube’s inventions were designed to work, but drawn for laughs.  He set every day objects in motion, along with anthropomorphic animals, bugs and birds, and an array of oddly distinguished humans to complete the task at hand.

*This photo and all detailed information are directly taken from

*This photo and all detailed information are directly taken from

Rub Goldberg Challenges are popular all over the world. Even Knowledge to Grow On has a Rube Goldberg engineering challenge program!

Click the link to see some of our favorite Rube Goldberg inspirations! (Ok Go "This Too Must Pass" music video is at the beginning)

...also click here to enjoy this scene from Chitty Chitty Bang Bang to see the Rube Goldberg inspired breakfast contraption made by inventor Caractacus Potts!