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How to safely land a plane — by blowing one of its wings off
Behold the Electrolux Death Ray! California artist Greg Brotherton makes these incredibly gorgeous faux-retro weapons by cannibalizing 1950s gear like Electrolux vacuum cleaners. The EDR is a vacuum on top of a Steelcase chair base; when you fire it, a halogen bulb in the center lights a bunch of acrylic rods ruby-red, while the whine of six German siren whistles — powered by the vacuum’s pressure — fills the air with Cold War dread.
Hailed as the Rolls-Royce of atomic weapons, the Electrolux Deathray is the ultimate blend of devastation and design. Custom made to order in your choice of atomic chrome or military field colors the standard Deathray is the perfect addition to any arsenal. Upgrades include atomic control rods in cobalt, ruby or emerald and a choice of firing options from a pencil thin vortex ray to a single pulse moon smasher.
Check out the videos of the Deathray in action, complete with Plan-9 cheesetastic special f/x!
And sure, okay, this is traditionally arch-ironic hipster humor. But Brotherton has neatly identified something I’ve always loved about 1950s industrial design: Everything looked like a weapon. Vacuum cleaners, pens, big-finned cars, cigarette cases, wall clocks, you name it. With all the sweeping chrome, steampunk lug-nuts and aerodynamic lines, it was as if everything had been rigorously designed to achieve escape velocity and rain death upon the commies.
If one can read the spirit of an age in its industrial design, it makes you wonder what you’d learn by scrutinizing our tools today. Ascetic, monklike ipods; cars that look like trilobites. What’s it all add up to?
(Thanks to Brian Corcoran for this one!)
I'm Clive Thompson, a writer on science, technology, and culture. This blog collects bits of offbeat research I'm running into, and musings thereon.
Currently, I'm a contributing writer for the New York Times Magazine and a columnist for Wired magazine. I also write for Fast Company and Wired magazine's web site, among other places. Email or AOL IM me (pomeranian99) to say hi or send in something strange!
May 20, 2011 » 02:28 PM
From Christopher Kennedy’s very droll book “Neitzsche’s Horse”.
July 28, 2010 » 07:35 AM
“Wr” - S
July 06, 2010 » 10:05 AM
My Xbox broke, and I was trying to Google some possible technical solutions, when I noticed that Google appears to be encouraging me to make a typo. I suppose it’s possible that Google’s algorithms know that typing “wont” instead of “won’t” would produce better results.
June 29, 2010 » 05:00 PM
On the other hand, when I tried the test for multitasking, I was pretty abysmal. I performed worse than people who identify themselves as heavy multitaskers, and those who identify as low multitaskers.
June 29, 2010 » 04:58 PM
I finally got around to trying out the interactive “test your distractability and multitasking” page at the New York Times, which they put up alongside their story earlier this month about how computer distractions are eroding our lives.
According to the test, I guess I have good focus — I’m not very distractable!
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