Some Disassembly Required: Scenes from the End of CES

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LAS VEGAS -- At the official end of the Consumer Electronics Show, another grueling ritual takes over. Everything that came into Vegas has to go back whence it came. The booths are packed up. Trucks are loaded. Small exhalations of relief and satisfaction puff up from the exhibitors even before they've finished the task of loading out.

I wandered the halls and loading docks of the convention center watching this mini-city get pulled apart at the seams and packed neatly into heavy plastic cases. You'll find photos of that operation below.

But the best moment I captured was out on the loading docks. I could not believe how many different types of wheeled vehicles were being used to move people and things around. All sizes and shapes were represented, and not a single car was among them. I felt like I'd landed on the Galapagos Island of automobile technology. Here were undiscovered branches of the car evolutionary tree and each specimen was perfectly adapted to its role in the ecosystem.

I could have stood there forever watching the rough choreography of skilled work.

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Alexis C. Madrigal

Alexis Madrigal is the deputy editor of TheAtlantic.com. He's the author of Powering the Dream: The History and Promise of Green Technology. More

The New York Observer has called Madrigal "for all intents and purposes, the perfect modern reporter." He co-founded Longshot magazine, a high-speed media experiment that garnered attention from The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, and the BBC. While at Wired.com, he built Wired Science into one of the most popular blogs in the world. The site was nominated for best magazine blog by the MPA and best science Web site in the 2009 Webby Awards. He also co-founded Haiti ReWired, a groundbreaking community dedicated to the discussion of technology, infrastructure, and the future of Haiti.

He's spoken at Stanford, CalTech, Berkeley, SXSW, E3, and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, and his writing was anthologized in Best Technology Writing 2010 (Yale University Press).

Madrigal is a visiting scholar at the University of California at Berkeley's Office for the History of Science and Technology. Born in Mexico City, he grew up in the exurbs north of Portland, Oregon, and now lives in Oakland.

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