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You flip a fan on, and the air blows a tiny toy sailboat till it hits a domino, inflicting a sequence response as a whole bunch of dominoes are knocked down. Because the final domino falls, it pushes a lever that triggers a pointy blade to swing, cracking an egg onto a griddle. A very elaborate contraption that accomplishes a easy process—on this case, cooking an egg—is an instance of a Rube Goldberg Machine.

It is named for inventor and cartoonist Rube Goldberg, and though you’ve almost definitely seen humorous sequences impressed by Goldberg’s machines in movies, TV exhibits, music movies, and comics, you most likely don’t know a lot about his life. In honor of what could be his 135th birthday, listed below are 13 ingenious info about Goldberg.

1. HE EARNED AN ENGINEERING DEGREE FROM UC BERKELEY…

Born in San Francisco on July 4, 1883, Goldberg loved drawing as a toddler and took artwork classes from an indication painter. After learning engineering at UC Berkeley, he graduated in 1904 and mapped sewer pipes and water mains for the town of San Francisco. “I studied engineering as a result of my father thought that each one cartoonists have been, you understand, good-for-nothing, Bohemians, and could not make a residing drawing photos,” Goldberg revealed in a 1970 interview with Radio Smithsonian.

2. …BUT QUIT HIS JOB TO BECOME A CARTOONIST.

After simply six months of labor, Goldberg knew that engineering wasn’t the appropriate match for him. So he labored as a sports activities cartoonist on the San Francisco Chronicle earlier than transferring to New York Metropolis to be a cartoonist at The New York Night Mail. A few of the comedian strips and single-frame cartoons he created had names like “Boob McNutt,” “Lala Palooza,” and “Silly Questions.” As a result of his cartoons have been nationally syndicated, he grew to become well-known and was terribly effectively paid.

Within the mid 1910s, he began illustrating advanced contraptions, together with a machine that routinely decreased a fats man’s weight and a sanitary option to lick a postage stamp. Between 1929 and 1931, he drew his absurd machine innovations for a sequence referred to as “The Innovations of Professor Lucifer G. Butts,” which was impressed by his experiences in school engineering courses.

3. ONE OF HIS POLITICAL CARTOONS WON A PULITZER PRIZE.

In 1948, he received a Pulitzer Prize for a political cartoon referred to as “Peace Today,” wherein he depicted the precarious steadiness between world management and destruction because of the atomic bomb. In a separate political cartoon (proven above), he drew a Rube Goldberg Machine to criticize President Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s technique to repair the financial system by creating a number of governmental businesses.

4. BECAUSE OF HATE MAIL HE RECEIVED, GOLDBERG CHANGED THE LAST NAMES OF HIS CHILDREN.

Goldberg and his spouse, Irma Seeman, had two sons, George and Thomas Goldberg. Throughout World Struggle II, Goldberg, who was Jewish, was publishing a superb quantity of political satire; he started receiving giant quantities of hate mail, which included quite a few demise threats. To safeguard his sons, Goldberg determined to vary their final names. When Thomas, his older son, selected the final identify “George,” Goldberg’s youthful son, George, determined to choose the same surname in order that the brothers would have a cohesive household identify. Thus, Goldberg’s sons grew to become generally known as Thomas George and George W. George. 

5. HE WROTE A FILM FOR THE THREE STOOGES BEFORE THEY WERE FAMOUS.

Twentieth Century Fox employed Goldberg to jot down a script for a characteristic movie involving his advanced machines. After writing in Hollywood for 3 months, the movie got here out in 1930. Referred to as Soup To Nuts, the movie wasn’t massively profitable, nevertheless it starred a pre-fame Three Stooges. Earlier than they have been Moe, Larry, and Curly, the vaudeville group consisted of 4 males who referred to as themselves Ted Healy and his Stooges. Apart from Healy and his Stooges, Soup To Nuts featured machines similar to an anti-burglar machine and a self-tipping hat.

6. HE WENT TO JAIL FOR REFEREEING A FIGHT IN HARLEM.

Goldberg admitted that he went to jail as soon as, throughout his early years as a cartoonist for The New York Night Mail. Whereas protecting fights for the newspaper, one other sports activities author would sometimes earn more money refereeing the (unlawful) fights. Goldberg accompanied him to cover a fight in Harlem and ended up holding time since he was the one particular person there with a stopwatch. Earlier than lengthy, cops raided the struggle and arrested Goldberg for being the timekeeper. An older fighter from the ring paid Goldberg’s $500 bond.

7. HIS NAME IS AN ADJECTIVE IN THE DICTIONARY.

In 1931, Merriam-Webster immortalized Goldberg by placing his identify within the dictionary. In keeping with Merriam-Webster, Rube Goldberg is an adjective that means “doing one thing easy in a really sophisticated manner that’s not mandatory.” Talking about his sudden fame, the cartoonist later mentioned: “I integrated these [chain reaction machine inventions] in my common cartoons and, for some motive or different, they have been taken up. They stood out and I am typed as an inventor; I am a loopy inventor … and my identify is within the dictionary and I am more than happy.” In keeping with Goldberg’s official website, he’s the one particular person in historical past to be listed as an adjective in Merriam-Webster (as simply the identify alone, versus namesake adjectives like, say, Shakespearean or Machiavellian).

8. AT 80 YEARS OLD, HE BECAME A SCULPTOR.

Most individuals don’t start fully new careers of their 80s, however Goldberg determined to take up sculpture. “I simply purchased some clay, and a few sticks, instruments and all, and I did not know you had to make use of an armature [a wire frame around which sculptors build the clay],” he advised Radio Smithsonian. He seen sculpting as a pure continuation of his engineering and cartooning work, and he even bought commissions for his work. Goldberg molded busts of politicians, authors, and pals, and he had exhibits of his work in New York and California. In 1970, the Smithsonian’s Museum of Historical past and Expertise featured an exhibition of his profession; Goldberg died in December of that 12 months at age 87.

9. THE REUBEN AWARD FOR CARTOONISTS IS NAMED AFTER HIM.

Musicians have Grammy Awards, actors have Oscars, and cartoonists have Reubens. Since 1954, the Nationwide Cartoonists Society has awarded the Reuben Award for Excellent Cartoonist of the Yr to a high cartoonist. Named after Goldberg, whose full identify was Reuben Garret Lucius Goldberg, the award itself is a statue primarily based on one in all his sculptures. He later joked that the trophy regarded grotesque, and though the award is called after him, it took him 22 years to win one himself.

10. HE GOT HIS OWN U.S. POSTAGE STAMP.

Goldberg’s black and white cartoon of a person utilizing a self-operating serviette grew to become a U.S. postage stamp in 1995. The colorized stamp exhibits the steps concerned within the contraption: the person raises a spoon to his mouth, and a serviette wipes his mouth after a sequence of steps involving a string, ladle, cracker, parrot, seeds, cup, wire, clock, lighter, and sickle.

11. EACH YEAR, TEAMS COMPETE IN RUBE GOLDBERG MACHINE CONTESTS.

Since 1988, groups of scholars have competed annually in Rube Goldberg Machine Contests to construct machines that evoke the spirit of Goldberg. Groups compete for prizes similar to Finest Design and Funniest Step (one step being a switch from one motion to a different). Prior winners have constructed elaborate contraptions to zip a zipper, water a plant, erase a chalkboard, and open an umbrella.

12. YOU CAN USE AN APP TO CREATE A DIGITAL RUBE GOLDBERG MACHINE.

To attempt your hand at creating your personal (digital) Rube Goldberg machine, obtain the Rube Works app in your cellphone. Because the first officially licensed Goldberg recreation, Rube Works permits gamers to construct machines to realize easy objectives, similar to getting a glass of orange juice. The sport incorporates puzzles, illustrations, physics, and logic, difficult gamers to construct useful machines to get to the subsequent stage.

13. HIS FAMILY MEMBERS CONTINUE HIS LEGACY.

Within the late 1980s, one in all Goldberg’s sons began Rube Goldberg, Inc. (RGI), an organization that retains the cartoonist’s legacy alive through licensing and merchandising. RGI additionally hosts Rube Goldberg Machine Contests, created the official Rube Works app, and promotes science, expertise, engineering, arts, and arithmetic schooling. Right this moment, Jennifer George, Rube’s granddaughter, serves as the corporate’s legacy director and not too long ago published a e-book on his work.

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