Jared showed me this amazing youtube video a few years ago, in which there are a series of machines that accomplish a simple task via the guided movement of a marble. But the best part about this video, is that after each marble reached its destination you hear a simple melody of Japanese mystery words, something like itakura zuichi. This melody is very catchy, and honestly gets stuck in my head even now, years later. I've always wanted to be able to sing that little song after I witness or accomplish something that works out just right, against all odds. Like maybe, going through a light right before it turns red, catching a fragile falling object before it hits the ground, or getting to the train right before it leaves.

So, this video and the accompanying song represent enjoying little unlikely successes. Even though I think about it a lot, I have never been able to find it again. How would I even search for it? I tried typing in what the Japanese song sounds like to me, itakura zuichi, but since that is surely just gibberish it yielded no results. 

But today, after much internet detective work, all that has changed! I finally found the video! *sings* Pitagora Suitichi!
Awesome, right? Why can't all youtube videos be this delightful?
Motivated by my recent research success, I figured, if I can find this relatively obscure video, I can find out what those Japanese words in the song are, and what they mean. I was hoping it would be something motivational like, "We did it!" or "It was worth all that effort!" Or even better, an ancient Japanese phrase that succinctly describes what English cannot convey, that special feeling of success when something works out just perfectly by chance, like the French deja vu. 

After following a few internet leads, I discovered that those sing-song words are Pitagora Suitchi and it means nothing other than Pythagora Switch! This is just too perfect, because I love it when other languages use English words and pronounce them crazily. It turns out Pythagoras Switch is the name of a Japanese TV show for kids that features these amazing Pythagorean Devices, which is apparently what these marble machines are called in Japan. The term for them in English is a Rube Goldberg Machine. I learned so much today! Now I really want to make my own. If you have some neat videos of Rube Goldberg machines, please share by posting a link in the comments! And don't forget to sing Pitagora Suitchi after watching them!

Wow! I just discovered that this kid's show is responsible for the Algorithm March, a neat dance fad I've seen on the internet! Does this discovery warrant a "Pitagora Suitchi?" Yes, I believe it does. Pitagora Suitchi! Best kid's show ever.

07/06/2010 11:55

This is so cool, because I just saw one of these at the Boston Logan airport 2 days ago! I can't find a video, but here is a link with pictures.
The rubber balls ride their roller coaster and play music by tripping switches that swing mallets into keys from a dismantled xylophone. It was really fun to watch, and I wish all airports had something that entertaining :)

07/10/2010 00:24

Very cool! It looks huge! It's called "Exercise in Fugality." What does that mean, fleeting-ness, ephemerality? Does the significance of the title have anything to do with it being in an airport? Intriguing... : )


Your comment will be posted after it is approved.

Leave a Reply.