The Atomic Rube

AP Physics C: Mechanics Final Project

An Atomic Age-Themed Rube Goldberg Machine

Teammates: Seth Furman, Matthew Smith, Brandon Whitehill

A (fun) demo and explanation

About the project

The object of our Rube Goldberg machine was to turn the page of a book. The book we used was "Feynman," a graphic novel biography of the legendary physicist. We chose as our theme the Atomic Age, the most exciting time in America's history. Our project is full of references to the period from bombs to cars to little boxes and a fear of communism. A cow abducted by a magnetic UFO kicks off a series of marbles rolling through polyurethane foam tubing and across wooden dowels, colliding with barriers and cups and triggering nuclear war. In the finale, a nuclear warhead drives a pully system to turn the page and let the bell of freedom ring.

The machine step-by-step

  1. A magnet lifts another magnet from the left side of a platform, which rotates clockwise due to the weight of a marble on the right side.
  2. The rotated platform causes the marble to roll onto a second platform.
  3. The second platform rotates counterclockwise due to the weight of the marble
  4. The marble falls into a pie tin funnel and through a chute, striking a rotating barrier at the bottom.
  5. The rotating barrier causes a second barrier attached above it to rotate away from a marble, which starts to roll.
  6. The marble rolls down a ramp and into a cup attached to a small trapeze.
  7. The cup falls, causing the trapeze to pull a tennis ball with a dowel through it off a set of dowels.
  8. The tennis ball falls, pulling out a foam stopper that is blocking an orange ball.
  9. The orange ball rolls down a ramp and strikes a blue ball.
  10. The blue ball bounces down a series of dowels and strikes a baseball on a string that is sitting on top of an eye hook.
  11. The baseball falls off the eye hook, pulling the string and causing a wooden rod to rotate.
  12. The top of the rod strikes a tennis ball, which rolls down an incline.
  13. The tennis ball strikes a football that is attached by pulleys to a panel beneath the page of the book.
  14. The football falls, pulling the panel and turning the page of the book. The football also strikes a bell, which rings.