A Rube Goldberg machine is an exceedingly complex apparatus that performs a very simple task in an incredibly indirect and convoluted way. Named after cartoonist Rube Goldberg, who was known for illustrating such contraptions, the machines are now the subject of an annual national competition at Purdue University, where teams are judged on their machine's ability to complete a certain task using as many steps as possible without a single failure. What was the contest's prescribed task in 2007?
Back in the day
In June 1890, shortly before the artist's death, Vincent Van Gogh created two versions of a painting depicting his doctor, Paul Gachet. The paintings, called Portrait of Dr. Gachet, portray the doctor seated beside a foxglove plant, an extract of which is used to treat heart conditions. In 1990, 100 years after it was first painted, Japanese businessman Ryoei Saito purchased one version of the work for the record sum of $82.5 million. Why did he later threaten to have the painting burned?
Born on a day like today
Curie was a chemist who studied crystallography, magnetism, piezoelectricity, and radioactivity. He and his wife Marie worked to isolate polonium and radium and were the first to use the term "radioactivity," pioneering its study. He and one of his students discovered nuclear energy by identifying the continuous emission of heat from radium particles. Pierre and Marie were awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1903. How many other Curies have received Nobel Prizes?