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All the world’s a Chain Reaction

  • 4-24-2013

All the world’s a Chain Reaction

What is a Chain Reaction and why is it so popular in America? What is the origin of the related events that activates thousands of students deepening their knowledge of chemistry and physics? We summarized everything that you need to know about the Chain Reaction.

Chemistry and physics move the world around us ... since every process in and around us is based on the chemistry and everything that is in motion works according to the laws of physics. It is no coincidence that these reactions are often wanted to be solved, copied, re-created.

A little history

History of the „Chain Reaction Machines” dates back around 100 years, when an American Pulitzer Prize winning cartoonist and inventor, Rube Goldberg, built the first machine that performs a very simple task in a very complex but funny way, usually including a chain reaction.

Here's a typical chain reaction machine, which was made by some funny students:

The Page turner machine

Rube Goldberg gave his entire life to the machines. He made a film about automatic machines, its title was "Soup to Nuts", of which the first premier was in 1930. Then, thirty years later, a "Rube Goldberg" machine also appeared in a John Wayne movie. The spread of the television made the chain reaction machines’ future, as successful educational shows like the Sesame Street or the Vision On also introduced more and more funny machinery.

The real breakthrough was the launching of the National Rube Goldberg Machine Contest in 1988. From this time on, the competition has been held among different age groups with diverse tasks in the United States every year.

Watch a machine made for the Rube Goldberg Machine Contest this year by students of an American high school:

The National Rube Goldberg Machine Contest is no longer the only one, where young people can build Chain Reactions. In the United States, there are still plenty of school projects, competitions and leisure clubs built around this theme, and students are also eager to construct machines. The NASA and the Google have also organized similar competitions, and there is a brand new TV series has launched on the Discovery Channel about this kind of machines.

Chain Reaction in the promotion of global companies

Not only students, but famous brands can also use the exciting and magnificent spectacles of the Chain Reaction. The commercial showing the most memorable Chain Reaction elements were presented in 2003 by the Honda, with which they won almost all the existing marketing awards.

Watch the Honda’s promotional film named "The Cog":

Another global company, the Red Bull, which is eager to support extreme athletes, also made a movie based on the Chain Reaction while expressing their creativity. They set up a Chain Reaction in which popular athletes are „built” into the machine.

Watch the "The Athlete Machine" made by Red Bull:

Besides these videos, you can also find countless other ones on video sharing sites, on which Chain Reactions made by either amateurs or professionals can be watched under operation.

Thanks to the BASF global chemical company, the Chain Reaction has also arrived to Central Europe this year. The Chain Reaction Science Competition starts in ten countries altogether, in which student teams can compete with each other by presenting their creativity, and of course, their chemistry and physics knowledge.

Have a look at the following site to know which countries currently take part in the competition. If it starts in your country later, subscribe to the newsletter so that you will be informed about the start in time.

Go to Chain Reaction Science Competition »