A "machine" that performs a ridiculous amount of subtasks to do a seemingly simple task. Examples include a bowling ball catapulting a thumbtack into a balloon, bursting it, scaring the nearby cat who jumps off the scale, tipping it over, etc, etc, etc.

Invented by cartoonist/engineer Rube Goldberg, who used to draw these machines weekly for newspapers.

For an interactive version (and a mighty fine puzzle game to boot), try The Incredible Machine.

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