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Design

A Gear System Helps Visualize the Magnitude of One Googol, or 1 Followed by 100 Zeros

March 10, 2020

Grace Ebert

To celebrate spending one billion seconds on Earth, Daniel de Bruin created a gear system that represents the number googol (that’s the digit 1 with 100 zeros behind it). Every time the first wheel completes 1,000 rotations, which happens in about an hour, the second gear turns 100 notches and the third 10. Each following wheel is reduced by 10, meaning in order to turn the last and 100th one, the system would need a googol of energy, which the Netherlands-based designer says is “a number that’s bigger than the atoms in the known universe.” He tells Colossal that when working perfectly, each gear is perpetually in motion. “Visible to the human eye, I could only see ten gears moving in my lifetime,” he says. For more of de Bruin’s mind-boggling projects—like his totally analog 3D printer and pneumatic pinball machine and can opener—head to his Instagram or YouTube.

 

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Design

Roof of a Copenhagen Power Plant Doubles as Snow-Free Ski and Snowboarding Center

February 26, 2020

Grace Ebert

All images © Copenhill

Danish architectural firm BIG recently transformed what would be another underutilized industrial space into a year-round entertainment hub as part of Copenhagen’s plan to be carbon-neutral by 2025. Copenhill, which opened in October of 2019, is situated on top of the waste-to-energy power plant, the Amager Resource Centre, in the Danish capital. Offering snow-free skiing and snowboarding, the outdoor space also allows hiking and running on its trails that border the 41,000-square-meter area. It even boasts the world’s largest climbing wall reaching 80 meters high.

The power plant can convert as many as 440,000 tons of waste into energy and heat for the hundreds of thousands of the city’s homes every year. Each machine is arranged by height, pushing the multi-use site to 90 meters at its peak.