Cats and the Ultimate Machine

This cat-in-a-box (not to be confused with Schrödingers cat) hauling in coins placed onto the fishbone-marked right corner I found on the counter of a fast-food shop in Seoul: 


It so reminded me of Claude Shannon’s ultimate machine:

One of his more humorous devices was a box kept on his desk called the “Ultimate Machine”, based on an idea by Marvin Minsky. Otherwise featureless, the box possessed a single switch on its side. When the switch was flipped, the lid of the box opened and a mechanical hand reached out, flipped off the switch, then retracted back inside the box. Renewed interest in the “Ultimate Machine” has emerged on YouTube and Thingiverse.

A matching (while somewhat more commercial) tribute to the founder of Information Theory

here is a video of an ultimate machine or “leave-me-alone!”-box in action:

And of course, there is a lego version, too!

In terms of theoretical computer science, One could also describe it as the mechanical implementation of a very simple state-machine with just two states (OFF,ON) or (0, 1) and a transition-function that simply returns from ON back to the OFF state in limited time.

Or as the wise cat would put it: Miaow!

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  1. #1 by cistronic on 2012/12/24 - 00:01

    The advanced version: (found via http://blog.schockwellenreiter.de/ and MAKE magazine http://blog.makezine.com/2012/12/23/most-useless-machine-advanced-edition/, incl links to the HowTo )

  2. #2 by cistronic on 2014/08/26 - 13:35

    It’s more useless than ever – the Useless Machine Kit is back in the Shed!
    http://www.makershed.com/products/useless-box-kit

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