No chance of burying the lede on this one: Yes, Royal College of Art student Julijonas Urbonas has designed a roller coaster that kills people on purpose. No, it’s not real (yet). Is it a joke, a reductio ad absurdum of the arguments for assisted suicide, or a thought-provoking piece of conceptual art? Our guess: all three.
Urbonas describes the experience of riding his “hypothetic euthanasia machine” thusly: “The rider is subjected to a series of intensive motion elements that induce various unique experiences: from euphoria to thrill, and from tunnel vision to loss of consciousness, and, eventually, death… Celebrating the limits of the human body but also the liberation from the horizontal life, this “kinetic sculpture” is in fact the ultimate roller coaster.” It’s like something out of the biting sci-fi satire film Idiocracy, except it’s backed up by “advanced cross-disciplinary research in space medicine, mechanical engineering, [and] material technologies.”
The 1:500 scale model Urbonas constructed doesn’t paint as vivid a picture as the stats do. His death-coaster would have over 7,500 meters worth of track, including a half-kilometer-long “drop.” During three minutes and 20 seconds of life-extinguishing fun, the coaster would inflict a maximum of 10 g’s of force on your body for a full minute, hurtling along at 223 miles per hour. But it doesn’t kill you by snapping your neck — sweet release comes courtesy of “Cerebral hypoxia, lack of oxygen supply to the brain.” (Bonus effects include, but are not limited to, “loss of color vision; loss of peripheral vision; Blackout; G-LOC -? G-force induced Loss Of Consciousness.”)
Urbonas’s deadpan descriptions of what various phases of his ride would feel like are worth reading in detail. At one point, the rider’s “body would flail around in a chaotic fit that is called “funky chicken” in aeromedical slang.” And just in case you don’t die, “a biomonitoring suit double-checks if there is a need for the second round, which is extremely unlikely.” Questionable taste? No kidding.
But any discussion of assisted suicide is distasteful — and in comparison to tiptoeing around the moral quagmire with euphemisms and empty platitudes, Urbonas’s ideas start to sound bracingly honest. After all, if legal assisted suicide is something various governments can manage to stomach, a perverse contraption like “Euthanasia Coaster” becomes just as valid as any other means of getting the job done. Do not go gentle into that good night — do it to the EXXXTREME!