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June 24, 2007 4:20 AM   Subscribe

The folks from Japanese public TV's excellent children's show "Pythagora Switch" have for several years been creating some of the most delightful and inventive Rube Goldberg-esque contraptions you're likely to ever see. Here's a 9 minute clip featuring lots of these little kinetic masterpieces, guaranteed to entertain.
posted by flapjax at midnite (43 comments total) 32 users marked this as a favorite

 
For me its always been the music. Screw the contraptions themselves, the little beeps just fill me with a rosy glow.
posted by muthecow at 4:24 AM on June 24, 2007


This just confirms what everyone already knew about the Japanese nationwide fetish for small office supplies.
posted by mdonley at 4:30 AM on June 24, 2007


Reminds me of this. I could watch things go all day.
posted by louche mustachio at 4:44 AM on June 24, 2007 [1 favorite]


This is great. When I was a kid we used to spend hours building stuff like this. I credit those long days in the garage with teaching me how to, um, build stuff like this. Cool post.
posted by MarshallPoe at 5:03 AM on June 24, 2007


a couple of years back, rocketboom had the funniest portion of a rube goldberg machine I've ever seen. The whole thing was precise and nuanced, with tiny parts and small marbles, until a marble rolls into something that taps a person in the back. The person does a somersault into the next level, striking it with his hand. Then the detail and nuance continues. It was golden.
posted by milestogo at 5:16 AM on June 24, 2007


Semi-double, from this time last year.
posted by The Monkey at 6:06 AM on June 24, 2007


There are some very very clever people involved in making these little clips ... Look at those places where the track suddenly pivots around after the ball has crossed, swinging into a new position just in the nick of time ...

Imagine, some guys are actually getting paid to sit there and make these things up! Great post, thank you!
posted by woodblock100 at 6:21 AM on June 24, 2007


With ninjas!
posted by figment of my conation at 6:37 AM on June 24, 2007 [2 favorites]


woodblock, it was those that most amazed me too, the track swinging into place. W00t! Great post. And although Honda need to be hated for nicking the one louche mustachio posted, at least it brought the idea to more people..
posted by imperium at 6:38 AM on June 24, 2007


What was amazing about these is that they seemed so much more polished than the usual Rube Goldberg machines, which may have just worked by chance on the particular take I was looking at.
posted by grouse at 7:07 AM on June 24, 2007


The Japanese early-evening kids programs were universally endearing to me.

5-15 minutes of random cuteness. And EDUCATION! Oh man.
posted by that girl at 7:14 AM on June 24, 2007


Exquisitely charming. Wonderful post flapjax. Love Rube Goldberg gizmos and here especially the gently humorous sense of timing, unpredictable uses of materials. Drove me nuts wondering what the hell was being sung during the videos, until figment of my conation's comment. They're singing "Pitagora Suicchi", which is Japanglish for Pythagoras' Switch. ahhhh. Now I get it.

Pythagora Switch on Wikipedia: "Pythagora Switch (Pitagora Suitchi), airing on NHK since 2002, is a Japanese educational television program where children's "way of thinking" is augmented under the supervision of Masahiko Satō and Masumi Uchino.

The Rube Goldberg devices that appear during the beginning, ending, and between each corner (segment) are called Pythagorean Device in the program. The main focus of the program is a puppet show, but the subject is mainly advanced by the small corners. World phenomena, principles, characteristics, and the like are introduced in an entertaining way. As a feature of the show "Pitagora Suitchi" is sung as an eye catch for each important point."

More about Pythagoras.
posted by nickyskye at 8:01 AM on June 24, 2007


hoo-tock-oonot-sin-eechee!

Or whatever. I'll be singing that in my head

all

damn

day.

Thanks flap! Fun stuff!!!
posted by The Deej at 8:06 AM on June 24, 2007


Just great - thanks. Anyone know where a video of the 9067 people doing the algorith march can be found?
posted by goo at 8:31 AM on June 24, 2007


algorithm
posted by goo at 8:32 AM on June 24, 2007


Pa-ta-go-ra su-i-cchi!
posted by Lord Chancellor at 8:36 AM on June 24, 2007


Previously, and previously on Ask.

But hell, I think we should post it every 6 months; I can't get enough.
posted by LobsterMitten at 8:46 AM on June 24, 2007


And wow, a great post about Rube Goldberg himself from last year.
posted by LobsterMitten at 8:50 AM on June 24, 2007


This is a cute version of the Phythagoran Switch machine.

Although I'm not sure why every cool Japanese fad evolves to the point where someone gets their ass kicked with it, I'm not entirely displeased with the results.
posted by Imperfect at 8:51 AM on June 24, 2007


If we could make Rube Goldberg gizmos instead of creating Science Fair projects with the kids each year, my world as a Mom would improve exponentially.

Great thread, thank you!
posted by misha at 9:07 AM on June 24, 2007


I suspect the music that's repeated over and over and takowen saweetchi! is some attempt at mind control. Warning: Ensure you turn the volume control right down!
posted by humblepigeon at 9:09 AM on June 24, 2007


Anyone have an mp3 of the Pythagoras Switch song, since I'm going to have it in my head all day, anyway?
posted by misha at 9:18 AM on June 24, 2007


hoo-tock-oonot-sin-eechee!
Pa-ta-go-ra su-i-cchi!
takowen saweetchi!

All together now:
pi-TA go-RA... su-ICCHI!
posted by wanderingmind at 11:17 AM on June 24, 2007


Dattebayo has fansubbed a few full episodes of the show for your viewing enjoyment.
posted by rifflesby at 11:30 AM on June 24, 2007


Yay! The algorithm march was my favorite thing on J tv, after the Japanese dubbed Buster Keaton shorts, of course.

The lack of strict adherence to a 1/2 hour block schedule does some really great things for Japanese tv. In addition to gems like this, they'll play a video of the tides coming in and out for, like, 4 minutes after a program.
posted by kickback at 11:31 AM on June 24, 2007


those last couple were just outstanding.
posted by shmegegge at 11:54 AM on June 24, 2007


The one in which a ball collapsed a scissors jack was impressive.
posted by Cranberry at 1:02 PM on June 24, 2007


All together now:
pi-TA go-RA... su-ICCHI!


pee-NA grow-TA soo CHE CHE
peen DA so ta - - -

Dammit. Can't do it.
posted by The Deej at 1:13 PM on June 24, 2007


My six year old was so taken by these videos this time last year that he favourited them and since then he has been cheerfully running around the house singing the song and building marble/domino/building blocks/knex contraptions ever since.

He has been especially taken with this video of a Japanese Rube Goldberg competition, evidently aimed at cooking dinner. Turns out that this year's Rube Goldberg machine contest is to juice an orange and pour it in a cup. My boy is all about making a machine that will feed us.

I, for one, welcome mini Rube Goldbergs as our new overlords.
posted by salishsea at 1:51 PM on June 24, 2007


Can someone explain what's going on at 5:47 or so into the video?

The marbles slow down and travel at a diagonal (through a viscous fluid?) and then, once reaching the next plank (an upwardly inclined plank, I think) immediately speed up to an incredible degree. What are they moving through and then what makes them speed up?
posted by nobody at 2:23 PM on June 24, 2007


Can someone explain what's going on at 5:47 or so into the video?

The marbles slow down and travel at a diagonal (through a viscous fluid?) and then, once reaching the next plank (an upwardly inclined plank, I think) immediately speed up to an incredible degree. What are they moving through and then what makes them speed up?


I was wondering this myself for a while. It does look like a viscous fluid, but there's no way that a fluid would be held in in such an enclosure. If you look carefully, the panes of glass taper apart in the direction the marbles roll. They are slowed down by the friction in the walls, then towards the end, they have progressed enough and the walls are wide enough that the balls simply drop onto the track. At least, that's what I thought, but the marbles seem to gain more speed than they would just from falling that small distance.

Wait, I got it. The balls are still spinning really fast on their descent through the glass, and the only contact point is on the center of spin, so they can keep spinning. The translational speed changes, but not the rotational speed.
posted by SBMike at 2:54 PM on June 24, 2007 [1 favorite]


louche mustachio: Hate to spoil it, but the people who made that video cheated, at several points they use flares and closeups of flames to mask cuts. That indicates that not only did they probably not do it in one take (thus it's not really a chain reaction) , but they had planned it that way from the start, and engaged in deception to present it as if it were one sequence.

(Which, you know, sucks.)
posted by JHarris at 3:26 PM on June 24, 2007


Love the Rube Goldberg devices, but the theme diddy has driven me mad, quite mad. If you'll excuse me, I have to go eat glue and kill people now.
posted by LordSludge at 4:19 PM on June 24, 2007


the theme diddy has driven me mad, quite mad.

Heh heh. The music has generated lots of comments here in this thread! The instrumentation on that theme music, by the way, is recorders. The group is called the Kuricorder Quartet, and though one of the members is a friend who I've played with on occasion, I think it's safe enough to link to them. Here's their page.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 4:39 PM on June 24, 2007


Weeeeeeeeeeee! It's fun to have fun.
posted by nola at 5:28 PM on June 24, 2007


The DVD is good, comes with a book showing the items and how to build it. The boy watches it no end.

The guy who plays the pipe for the tune, sometimes practices in Yoyogi park.
posted by lundman at 6:06 PM on June 24, 2007


Wait, I got it. The balls are still spinning really fast on their descent through the glass, and the only contact point is on the center of spin, so they can keep spinning. The translational speed changes, but not the rotational speed.

Ah! Brilliant!
posted by nobody at 7:29 PM on June 24, 2007


I love the mysterious unattached hand that appears in the beginning of many of the segments to start the ball rolling. Who is that man (I assume it's a man's hand)? And I wonder how he feels that his hand appears regularly on national tv but never the rest of his body.
posted by heatherbeth at 7:33 PM on June 24, 2007


flapjax, IANAMod, but I think the rule against self-linking is for FPPs. I think it's generally frowned upon in comments unless the link is relevant to the conversation at hand, which it unquestionably is in this case.

These bumpers inspired me to download a fansub'd episode of the show. (Yes, there are fansubs for Japanese puppet shows! Rock!) It strikes me as really quite cool. Weird, but head-and-shoulders above things like Barney, or other Japanese kids stuff for that matter. I mean, they have a segment called "Today's Robot" of all things! And it seems that there are many versions of the Algorithm March, all the same song and motions but with different people in the procession.
posted by JHarris at 8:29 PM on June 24, 2007


as requested by goo:

Algorithm March by 967 inmates

of Cebu Provincial Detention and Rehabilitation Center (CPDRC)Cebu, Philippines.

bizarre
posted by Merik at 2:28 AM on June 25, 2007


Even Japanese prisoners follow instructions better than Americans.
posted by misha at 9:18 AM on June 25, 2007


Obligatory link to Honda ad.
posted by fandango_matt at 12:04 PM on June 25, 2007


Pa-ta-go-ra su-i-cchi!

Every time I heard it, my brain said "It's magic'ly delicious!" I guess it's easy to trade one simply tuned. force-fed child phrase with another.
posted by Dave Faris at 12:10 PM on June 25, 2007


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