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Video fly-thru of Stanford's pneumatic tubes

Pneumatic tube systems: I don't pretend to fully understand how they work, but I've always thought they were pretty cool. There's something about the now-you-see-it, now-you-don't mechanism that seems so simple, yet so mysterious. It's like a magician suddenly pulling a flight of doves out of his coat. For decades, I've been curious about what goes on inside a pneumatic tube system. What makes the capsules move so fast? How do they know where to go? If two of the capsules collide mid-stream, does it create pneuclear fission?

With the assistance of Stanford Hospital's Chief Engineer, Leander Robinson, this video shows what happens when a small camera and a couple of tiny flashlights get nestled into the foam-filled plastic capsule and launched into the inky tangle of pneumatic tubing. It doesn't answer all my questions, but it's a trip nonetheless!

Take a zippy trip through the tubes and read the accompanying article in the new issue of Stanford Medicine.

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