You may have heard a convoluted concept described as a "Rube Goldberg" before...then wondered what in the world that meant. The Merriam Webster Dictionary defines Rube Goldberg as "doing something simple in a very complicated way that is not necessary." Rube Goldberg was also a Pulitzer Prize-winning cartoonist, who made some pretty complicated machines.
The cartoon in the image below, called "Professor Butts and the Self-Operating Napkin," is one of the most famous Rube Goldberg machines. As Wonderopolis explains, this cartoon "sums up what Rube Goldberg machines are all about: creating a machine (or contraption or invention or device or apparatus) that uses a chain reaction to accomplish a very simple task in a very complicated manner." Through a convoluted series of events, the self-operating napkin accomplishes the simple task of wiping his chin.