I’m a bit Rube Goldberged out. I’ve seen the magic that carefully oriented Popsicle sticks and bowling balls and magnets and wind-up toys can do when they are all working towards the same silly end a thousand times. So it takes a truly innovative concept for me to get excited about the contraptions again.
Japanese high-speed optical internet service au Hikari got me excited. Their Rube Goldberg machine is based solely on the power of optics. Watch below:
First of all, I’m impressed this worked at all. To run a single beam of light through and across so many surfaces takes some serious lumens (a measure of light intensity). No matter how reflective a mirror or finely calibrated a lens, some photons are always lost as a beam spreads out across space. The MythBusters discovered this first hand when they tried to light up a fake Egyptian catacomb ala the movie The Mummy using the Sun. Even with modern mirrors, a light beam eventually scatters to the point where it is no longer visible.
Second, this Rube Goldberg iteration is elegant, simple, and interesting. No model rocket engines, no confetti, no bricks smashing TVs showing static images; it’s just an obstacle course for photons (and a pretty awesome ad) that uses the same technology you did to light ants on fire. Nice.