Suicide Machines Destroy Themselves

An artist creates tools that go on the attack, sabotaging themselves by design. Continue reading →

We live in an age where we camp out, line up and inflate the media buzz, just to be one of the first ones the get The New Gadget, only to line back up in three months for The Newer Gadget. Though perhaps not his original intent, artist Thijs Rijke's latest project is a perfect comment on the Sisyphean absurdity of tech's throw-away culture.

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For his industrial series called "Suicide Machines," Rijke built machines specifically designed to destroy themselves. So far, he's built two - a machine that pours sand into its gearbox and one that employs a self-powered saw that cuts into its gearbox.

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The two mechanical "snuff films" he made never actually show the moment when the gears grind to a halt, but there's a foreboding sense of doom among the footage - a lingering tone of dread, knowing that eventually these machines will conk out.

So when Apple comes out with its latest messiah-like iDevice, and your gold iPhone 5S is so obsolete, feel free to meditate on these two sounds: screeching saw blades slicing into the gearbox and sand grinding down gear teeth. After all, that's the sound of the men working on the chain gang ... the Foxconn chain gang.

via The Verge

Photo: Thijs Rijker

The University of Wisconsin-Madison just announced this year's winners of its Cool Science Image contest. After surveying 105 submissions, these 10 images were awarded. (Readers can indulge in more cool science from the university by visiting Whyfiles at This Cool Science Image winner took a close look at mold. When food gets tough to find, slime mold become social and form multicellular organisms such as those shown here.

This image shows the amount of water vapor in the atmosphere and surface temperatures on Oct. 28, 2012. Orange and red show moist air rising over warm water, which strengthens tropical storms. When storms pass over colder waters -- the blues and greens -- tropical storms begin to weaken from the lack of energy-laden moist air from the sea surface. Super storm Sandy is visible off the East Coast of the United States, gathering strength from the warm Gulf Stream waters.

A scanning electron microscope captured these "nanoflowers," which are made of zinc oxide, a key semiconductor in electronics. Zinc oxide usually forms rod shapes but when it's on alumina, the oxide you see on aluminum foil, it grows into flakes and flowers.

A green fluorescent molecule lights up the nerve network in the tail fin of a live zebrafish embryo, at 40 times magnification. Special imaging software was able to join different fields of view to capture this image.

The unique, translucent fruiting structures of the money plant (Lunaria Annua) allow developing seeds to be observed.

The center of a Hoodia flower, which is native to South Africa and Namibia.

A water vapor-based imaging system captured this depiction of multiple stages of hair (trichome) growing on a very young leaf.

The larval form of the moth Automeris banus rests on a branch in Palenque National Park, Mexico. The moth inhabits tropical rain forests in Central and South America, as well as southeastern Mexico.

A monkey’s brain, showing its structure and neural pathways. The resolution of this image was achieved using a 40-hour scan in a high magnetic field.

Here Beta Catenin (CTNNB1) is induced in the prostate of transgenic mice, and cell clusters show high levels of the protein (in red). Beta Catenin is important in prostate cancer in humans and mice, and models like this one are being used to learn more about CTNNB1's role in both normal prostate development and in communication with its environment.