You wacky Purdue parents.
It starts with the Big Bang, re-creates the extinction of the dinosaurs, holds a jousting competition, flips over an album, and simulates World War II, a shuttle launch, the fall of the Berlin Wall, and even the alleged apocalypse in 2012. In its precisely executed review of history, "The Time Machine," a Rube Goldberg contraption built by members of the Purdue Society of Professional Engineers and Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers, incorporates a record-breaking 244 steps—all to water a single flower.
The machine beat the existing world record of 230 steps, achieved last year by Katsumi Takahashi and students at Michigan's Ferris State University. But that wasn't the team's objective: The goal was to win the 24th annual national Rube Goldberg Machine Contest held in March at Purdue University. Zach Umperovitch, a geology major and the team's captain, decided to count the steps in the machine the day before the competition. "We never do step counts," he says. "It just kind of happened." [More]