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Watch 1,000 balls blast through a pneumatic accelerator

Wired has posted this awesome video of a vaccuum-powered maze out of Germany.

Niklas Roy has always been fascinated with machines. As a child, the German artist would build alarm systems for his bedroom door—a precautionary measure to keep his brother out of his room. It was relatively simple work, but there was something fascinating about the act putting components together to create a sum more powerful than its parts. “Of course I was dreaming of building a robot, but I just wasn’t able to do it,” he says.

Today, Roy’s machines are a little more complex, and a lot closer to that dream of building a robot. His most recent, Pneumatic Sponge Ball Accelerator, is a maze clear tubes that suck 1,000 black sponge balls through it at dizzying speed using the same power as a household vacuum cleaner.

Roy has been making pneumatic tube installations for a few years now, but this installation (at the Tschumi Pavilion in Groningen, Netherlands) is his most ambitious yet. Inspired by hulking machines like CERN’s Large Hadron Collider, Roy’s contraption is a playful attempt to provide an artistic visualization to what happens in actual particle accelerators…

…The 1,000 sponge balls travel from bubble A to bubble B through 500 feet of transparent tubing, caused by a change in air pressure. So when the vacuum is sucking air out of bubble B, it causes that air pressure to drop, only to kick back up from incoming air from bubble A. This creates an airflow, pushing the balls through the tubes like a high speed bank deposit capsule. People visiting the installation control the flow of the balls by a touch sensor; they can switch the airflow’s direction in mid bubble commute, slowing down the balls to nearly a stand still before they race off in the other direction. It’s hypnotic to watch, probably even cooler to play with.

Read more.


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