If you’re not among the 130 million people planning to shop on “Black Friday,” but still want to take part in organized chaos, you should check out the Friday After Thanksgiving (F.A.T.) Chain Reaction Event at MIT.
Presented by the MIT Museum and held at the Rockwell Cage Gymnasium, F.A.T. is like watching an enormous domino demonstration. Over 30 teams create individual mini-chain reaction machines using a variety of materials. Those machines are connected together in the event’s finale, forming a mega-chain reaction with a surprise ending thanks to event M.C. and legendary kinetic sculptor Arthur Ganson.
F.A.T. begins at 1 p.m. is expected to draw close to 1,500 spectators. Participants have ranged from MIT researchers to Girl Scout Troops from throughout the U.S.
The chain reactions at F.A.T. vary, with some contraptions as simple as books falling against one another and some as complicated as the board game Mouse Trap, and the end result resembling a version of the Rube Goldberg machine in the music video “This Too Shall Pass” by OK Go.
In the finale, a tube that passes a single golf ball from machine to machine will connect the reactions. Each reaction ranges from 30 seconds to three minutes, uses no chemicals, no plug-in electricity, and no more than a cup of water.
Now in its 14th year, the theme for F.A.T. 2011 is “Sonnets” (sonnets, of course, have 14 lines). Ganson is encouraging reactions to be built in the sonnet spirit, such as a 14-step reaction or a group-sonnet that describes the machine.
Spectators can talk to teams, create their own contraptions. General admission tickets are available online and for discount at $12.50 until Wednesday, November 23 at noon. Regular admissions (which includes free same-day access to the MIT Museum) will be available at the door for $15 for adults and $5 for children. Children under five years old are free.