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Contest: Rube Goldberg Devices

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In conjunction with our two "Feel Art Again" posts on Rube Goldberg (Jan. 10 and today), we're offering mental_floss's first drawing contest!

What To Do:

Invent and draw a Rube Goldberg-esque device, with an explanation.

What does that mean? Draw as complex a device as you can think of for a very simple task. The more complex the device or the funnier the device/task/situation, the better. For ideas, refer to the collection of Goldberg's cartoons on the official Rube Goldberg site.

The Goldberg cartoon above shows the "Simplified Pencil Sharpener":
Open window (A) and fly kite (B). String (C) lifts small door (D) allowing moths (E) to escape and eat red flannel shirt (F). As weight of shirt becomes less, shoe (G) steps on switch (H) which heats electric iron (I) and burns hole in pants (J). Smoke (K) enters hole in tree (L), smoking out opossum (M) which jumps into basket (N), pulling rope (O) and lifting cage (P), allowing woodpecker (Q) to chew wood from pencil (R), exposing lead. Emergency knife (S) is always handy in case opossum or the woodpecker gets sick and can't work.

You can draw the device on your computer or by hand. If you draw it by hand, please scan or photograph it so that you can"¦

E-mail your drawing to feelartagain@gmail.com by Thursday, January 22, 2009.

The Prize:

One winner will receive a copy of Secret Lives of Great Artists: What Your Teachers Never Told You About Master Painters and Sculptors by Elizabeth Lunday.

ThePrize.jpgWith outrageous anecdotes about everyone from Leonardo (accused sodomist) to Caravaggio (convicted murderer) to Edward Hopper (alleged wife beater), Secret Lives of Great Artists is an art history lesson you'll never forget!

Elizabeth Lunday is a journalist specializing in architecture and art. She writes the "Masterpieces" column for mental_ floss magazine and lives in Fort Worth, Texas.

The winner will be announced on Saturday, January 24, 2009, at 12:30 p.m.

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NASA
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Space
NASA Could Send Your Tweet Into Deep Space
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NASA

The inventors of Twitter could never have imagined how their creation would change the world. The social media platform has become the stage upon which some of the most important dramas—and pettiest comedies—of the last few years have played out. And now it'll help beam one lucky person's message into interstellar space, thanks to NASA's #MessageToVoyager contest.

The Voyager 2 and Voyager 1 spacecrafts launched on August 20 and September 5, of 1977. The probes set sail in opposite directions, bound for the outer reaches of space, each bearing a golden record imprinted with messages of peace and welcome from Earth to whomever else the spacecraft might encounter along the way.

The decades since have seen years of astonishing firsts from the two little probes. Voyager 2 has cruised past and sent back images from Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, and Neptune. Just five years ago, Voyager 1 became the first craft to enter interstellar space.

In celebration of the 40th anniversary of the missions, NASA wants to give the people of Earth the opportunity to send a new message. The agency will transmit the single winning tweet into the area of deep space Voyager 1 now occupies.

To participate, compose a message of up to 60 characters. That includes letters, numbers, spaces, and punctuation. Tag your submission with #MessageToVoyager and post it to Twitter by August 15. You can also share it on Instagram, Facebook, Google+, or Tumblr.

Representatives from NASA, JPL, and the Voyager team will narrow down the entries, and then hold a public vote for the winner.

For full contest rules, check out NASA's #MessageToVoyager website.

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Airbnb
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You Could Be One of the First People to See the Upcoming Solar Eclipse With New Airbnb Contest
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Airbnb

Airbnb is going to help two lucky people become some of the first in the nation to see the cross-continental total solar eclipse when it journeys across the U.S. on August 21. As Travel + Leisure reports, the company is holding a contest to send two guests on a deluxe eclipse-viewing mini-vacation in Oregon.

First, the winner and their guest will head to Bend, Oregon on August 20 to stay in a geodesic dome under the stars, looking up at the night sky from the observation deck with multiple telescopes, according to the press release. They’ll hang out and chat about the stars with with astrophysicist Jedidah Isler, who studies black holes, and learn how to shoot great nighttime photos with Babak Tafreshi, a National Geographic photographer.

An interior view of the Airbnb geodesic dome.
Airbnb

The next day, Isler will accompany the winners on a private jet for a two-hour flight over the Pacific Ocean. The plane will fly along the path of totality, potentially extending the amount of time the guests have to view the Moon completely covering the Sun by up to a minute compared to what people will see from the ground.

Even if you don’t win, plenty of people are trekking out to the path of totality, and you can probably find another place to crash. Airbnb estimates that it has around 3800 listed houses along the path of totality. (This one in Oregon is going for $10,000 a night that weekend.) But you might have more trouble finding a private plane to fly you to a viewing spot atop the clouds. The next total solar eclipse won't be visible from the U.S. until 2024, so this is your last chance for a while.

You have until August 10 to send Airbnb your best argument for why you should get to go on a great eclipse adventure.

[h/t Travel + Leisure]

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