Russian nuclear power plant is all buttons and knobs


The control panels in this Russian nuclear power plant look like something out of the 60s, but it was built in the 1990s. Why so little computer interface? It's probably a budgetary issue, but, at Fast Company Design, John Pavlus wonders whether there's a bigger lesson we can learn.

But what about all those clunky, straight-outta-Star-Trek knobs and lights — what if they're a safety feature, too?

Well, here's the thing, as Christopher Mims at Technology Review brilliantly points out: touch is a powerful, powerful thing. And not the sterile, featureless version that passes for "touch" on your iPad. I'm talking about the physical, primal, ultra-high-res sensorium that you experience from interacting with everyday objects in the real world. Our brains and hands evolved they way they did for a reason, and virtual displays and interfaces simply don't "click" with the kind of infomation-processing we've evolved to do so well. Deep, spatial sense-memory—"colored THING in THAT location that feels like THIS and STAYS there"—is how our savannah-dwelling ancestors navigated their environment and avoided getting killed, and it's still true today.

There's more photos of the power plant at Fast Company Design.

Photos taken by Ilya Varlamov

Via Mark Changizi!