Animated wannabe inventors Wallace & Gromit would undoubtedly be impressed by a 26-year-old computer programmer's invention for turning through the pages of a newspaper without getting ink all over his fingers.

Madcap inventor Joseph Herscher, who describes himself as a kinetic artist, uploaded a video of The Page Turner on YouTube and it soon went viral, attracting more than three million hits.

His system for flicking through the newspaper without touching it involves a chain reaction of 19 steps of rolling balls, knocking objects and tilting surfaces, similar to the process used in the Mousetrap party game. It starts with Herscher drinking a mug of coffee, which tilts a painting, which sets a series of balls running, which moves something else before cleverly using a hamster in the final stages of the chain reaction to turn the page of his newspaper without touching it.

He cobbled the contraption together after drawing inspiration from the American cartoonist Rube Goldberg, famous for silly chain reaction devices.

This is not the first contraption that Herscher has built. The New Zealand native, who lives in New York, also scored an online hit with a device for smashing a Cadbury Crème Egg with a hammer, which has been viewed on YouTube nearly 2.5 million times.

Herscher said: "I just wanted to do the most simple thing in the most complex way possible."