I love that concept whenever any company comes up with it as a part of their marketing campaign but not sure what do we call such action.

The action starts with one tiny thing (say striking a small metal ball) and it hits another thing that swings further and does some action. The beauty continues and finally a big gate may open showing some message/greetings. So, a small tiny ball to a giant gate everything happens kinetically.

Here and here are two videos showing the action which is brilliantly crafted. I know the word 'chain reaction' but I've always used, heard and seen the phrase in a different context. Even the dictionary uses an example that does not fit to my concern.


1 Answer 1


In the United States, at least, such a machine or device can be called a Rube Goldberg Machine. Another term is Chain Reaction Machine or Device. One that involves a rolling ball can be called Rolling Ball Scuplture. A popular term for a mechanical chain reaction is domino effect, which can also literally be incorporated into a Rube Goldberg Machine.

In the broader sense, a Rube Goldberg Machine means a

deliberately over-engineered or overdone to perform a very simple task in a very complicated fashion. (wikipedia)

The term has come to refer to the more narrowly defined machine/device that does rely on "arranged kinetic reactions."

Even popular entertainment uses the term Rube Goldberg Machine. For example, the console/PC game Fallout 3 contains a store called Gold Ribbon Grocers, which is booby-trapped with a device called Rube Goldberg Machine. A vide of the Fallout 3 Rube Goldberg Machine is here. It relies on both the mechanical domino effect and chemical reactions. See video here.

MIT stages a Chain Reaction Machine event each Friday after Thanksgiving but does not use the term Rube Goldberg Machine.


You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .