Record-breaking Rube Goldberg inflates, then pops balloon in 300 steps

Purdue's Society of Professional Engineers set a new record for rubegoldbergery with a 300-step balloon-inflater/popper. As magnificent as the machine itself is, the best part of this video is unquestionably the roar of the crowd.

WEST LAFYETTE, Ind., USA--The Purdue Society of Professional Engineers team smashed its own world record for largest Rube Goldberg machine with a 300-step behemoth that flawlessly accomplished the simple task of blowing up and popping a balloon - setting the new world record for the Largest functional Rube Goldberg machine, according to World Records Academy.

Largest Rube Goldberg Machine: Purdue team set new world record (2012) (via Neatorama)


  1. define “step”.  i gotcher gazillion step balloon inflater right here; which starts when the muscles for my diaphragm to fill my lungs are fueled with cheetos™ and low cost beer like substance… then ATP is synthesized… several monkeys are involved… and you can be sure that i count posting the whole unseemly affair to youtube as one of the steps too!

    1. I also don’t see how one step led to another. It just looked like a bunch of unrelated things happening. Leave it to engineers to make something amazing that is only for their own techno prowess, but leaves everyone else scratching their heads.

      1. I’ve personally found this to be the case with a great many well-crafted machines like this…the transitions happen rather quickly, and aren’t always immediately apparent.  My favorite video as a kid was The Way Things Go …I must have watched it hundreds of times, if not thousands, and still don’t fully understand every single point.  I guess that’s part of the appeal, such great precision and planning is required to make it all go so flawlessly.

  2. I feel like it’s worth noting that Purdue has graduated a fairly large number of people who have gone on to become astronauts. I guess this is what engineers can do in their spare time until we start sending people back up into space!

  3. For some reason, this makes me think of trying to get my 7 year-old to brush her teeth and hair.

  4. Pretty good. But I didn’t see a calculator verifier (with a “check” key) anywhere. How do we know if the Fun Pass used was authentic?


  6. If this isn’t a perfect metaphor for the current US Congress, I don’t know what the hell is.

  7. OK, someone needs to make one of these goldberg videos of a pop band ski jumping over a steam punk shark. 

    Then we can play it as a loop and move on.

  8. Rube Goldberg machines have now officially jumped the shark.  This is like watching Waterworld–bloated, unnecessary, pointless.  But some good special effects.

  9. the commenters to this thread seem to enjoy a more back-to-the-roots themed RG machine?  feast your eyes, ladies and gentlemen:

      1. Interstitials for a kids’ program called “Pitagora Suitchi” or I guess “Pitagora Switch”, “Pythagoras Switch(es)” etc. by NHK, Japan’s national public broadcaster.

        Edit: here’s the Japanese name of the series for your copy-and-pasting pleasure; yields a lot more YouTube hits than transcriptions: ピタゴラスイッチ

  10. …the best part of this video is unquestionably the roar of the crowd.

    Agreed. This is evidently something they did strictly for themselves and accidentally captured part of on video, which, as an afterthought, they posted to YouTube.

    I see balls rolling, levers rotating, fruit being sacrificed, and hidden panels rotating into and out of view, but there is little evidence that these steps are in any way related to each other, much less what mechanisms connect them.

    Rube Goldberg machine: A device (or set of unrelated devices, AFAICT) requiring a ridiculous amount of time and effort in order to achieve the simple goal of boring unititiated spectators for 2 minutes and 17 seconds.

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