Since the late 1980s, Purdue University has invited students to make Rube Goldberg machines accomplishing simple tasks in absurdly complex ways. Each machine has to occupy at least a 6-foot cube, perform at least 20 steps, and achieve a stupidly simple task. This year the winners made a charmingly goofy machine to zip a zipper. Here they are walking us through the process (the action starts around 3:05):
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And according to Wikipedia, here's the list of previous tasks set out for the Purdue contest:
2014 Zip a zipper 2013 Hammer a nail 2012 Inflate a balloon and pop it 2011 Water a Plant 2010 Dispense an Appropriate Amount of Hand Sanitizer into a Hand 2009 LittleBigPlanet Contraption Challenge 6 2009 Replace an Incandescent Light Bulb with a More Energy Efficient Light Emitting Design 2008 Assemble a Hamburger 2007 Squeeze the Juice from an Orange 2006 Shred 5 Sheets of Paper 2005 Change Batteries and Turn on a 2-battery Flashlight 2004 Select, Mark and Cast an Election Ballot 2003 Select, Crush and Recycle an Empty Soft Drink Can 2002 Select, Raise and Wave a U.S. Flag 2001 Select, Clean and Peel an Apple 2000 Fill and Seal a Time Capsule with 20th-century Inventions 1999 Set a Golf Tee and Tee Up a Golf Ball 1998 Shut Off An Alarm Clock 1997 Insert and Then Play a CD Disc 1996 Put Coins in a Bank 1995 Turn on a Radio 1994 Make Cup of Coffee 1993 Screw a Light Bulb into a Socket 1992 Unlock a Combination Padlock 1991 Toast a Slice of Bread 1990 Put the Lid on a Ball Jar 1989 Sharpen a Pencil 1988 Adhere a Stamp to a Letter 1987 Put Toothpaste on a Toothbrush