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MIT’s ‘Chain Reaction’ Gets Rolling

The Friday after Thanksgiving is one of the big dates on the calendar for young engineering geeks across the area … because it’s the day of MIT’s annual “Chain Reaction.”

Hundreds come to watch the chain of wonderfully, elaborately inconvenient Rube Goldberg devices built by local teams (often parents and their kids). One triggers the next via buzz saw, toy food spinning down ramps, dominoes falling, marbles rolling, or a little mechanical car stuttering across a table. The devices fill tables that ring a whole basketball court and take about 20 minutes to run. It’s part science fair, part machine circus.

This year’s “Friday After Thanksgiving Chain Reaction” is scheduled for 1 p.m. Friday, Nov. 23, at MIT’s Rockwell Cage Gymnasium (120 Vassar St., Cambridge).

“Occasionally there needs to be a little bit of assistance,” artist and inventor Arthur Ganson, who ringmasters the event, told the audience last year. But as, say, a golf ball wobbles down a ramp and successfully triggers the next ludicrous device what you feel is triumph.

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