A wonderfully complex contraption built from the very items designed to make our lives simpler.
image via youtube screen capture
Rube Goldberg machines are, by definition, intended to make simple tasks incredibly, unnecessarily, complicated. With that in mind, there’s a delicious irony in constructing one of these needlessly elaborate contraptions out of the very items designed to organize and simplify our lives. Things like: Painter’s tape, reflective sheeting, and Post-it Notes… lots and lots of Post-it Notes, all working in sequence to create a seamless flow of motion that culminates in a spectacular(ly, delightfully overwrought) climax.
The machine, created by the 3M corporation (they of Scotch tape and Post-it Note fame) utilizes physics, thermodynamics, chemistry, and energy to complete its task. In an email to GOOD, 3M explains that their “Brand Machine”:
...incorporates 25,000 Post-it® Notes, 300 feet of 3M™ Diamond Grade™ Reflective Sheeting, 200 pounds of steel, 75 rolls of ScotchBlue™ Painter’s Tape, a muffler and a whole lot more that come together to demonstrate something simple in a very complicated way.
While some of the component pieces are fairly easy to identify, the less-recognizable features are likely just as ubiquitous in most of our lives, from “vibration-damping viscoelastic polymers” that help quiet noisy appliances, to “microprisms with cube-corner retro-reflectivity” that keep street signs visible in low light.
All told, explained 3M, the machine took over 1,400 hours of work to complete, pulling from across multiple scientific disciplines to operate smoothly. And while it is, by design, a needlessly complex system created for a single purpose, the Brand Machine also serves to illustrate a larger point: That our lives are filled with items, devices, doodads and gizmos which we tend to overlook, or simply take for granted. Ultimately, though, all the things that make our lives just a little more convenient are the result of some serious scientific research and development. So while a single Post-it Note may be what makes our days just a little more manageable, getting to that point was a long, complex, but in the end, wholly worthwhile process.