Sunday, September 4, 2011


I recently received an email with the following video attached along with the text in italics below....

This is almost unbelievable. See how all of the balls wind up in catcher cones.

This incredible machine was built as a collaborative effort between the Robert M. Trammell Music Conservatory and the Sharon Wick School of Engineering at the University of Iowa . Amazingly, 97% of the machine's components came from John Deere Industries and Irrigation Equipment of Bancroft , Iowa . Yes, farm equipment!

It took the team a combined 13,029 hours (6.26 years) of set-up, alignment, calibration, and tuning before filming this video but as you can see, it was WELL worth the effort.

It is now on display in the Matthew Gerhard Alumni Hall at the University and is already slated to be donated to the Smithsonian.

The thought that such a machine could actually be built is an intriguing one.  However, having read a bit about chaos theory in the fascinating book by James Gleick, Chaos: Making a New Science, I questioned the feasibility of launching thousands of balls with enough precision to form the soundtrack and land in the collector cones every time.  I undertook in-depth research (okay, a quick google search) and found that the email story is a hoax

The video is still remarkable, and kudos to the folks at Animusic who put it together.  Stuff like this makes me feel so fortunate that there are amazing, creative, artistic souls in the world that share the product of their inspiration with the rest of us.


  1. Wow. Not just the video, but the background. That's dedication and devotion.

  2. I know... even though the machine wasn't actually built in real life, the attention to detail and effort for the animation is impressive.

  3. Wow, stuff like this (devotion etc) inspires me. Truly we can do whatever we set out to accomplish and this makes it that much more of a reality.

  4. Botut - You are right - these sorts of things should serve as inspiration to the rest of us!