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There are now over one billion automobiles on the road worldwide. An explosion in the auto markets in China and India ensures that number will increase, with China supplanting the United States as the world's largest car market. It's fair to say humanity has a love affair with the car, but it's a love-hate relationship. Cars are at once convenience, art, and menace. People write songs about their vehicles, put them in museums, race them, and wrap their identities up in them. About 15% of carbon dioxide emissions from the burning of fossil fuels comes from cars. Traffic fatality estimates vary from half a million per year to more than double that. Gathered here are images of the automobile in many forms, and our relationship to and dependence on our cars. This is the second in an occasional Big Picture series on transportation, following Pedal power earlier this year. -- Lane Turner (40 photos total)
Antti Rahko stands next to his self-made "Finnjet" during preparations for the Essen Motor Show in Essen, Germany on November 22, 2012. The car rolls on eight wheels, offers ten seats, weighs 3.4 tons and is worth about one million US dollars. (Marius Becker/AFP/Getty Images)

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By now, those of you who are sick of the monkey picture will realize I'm on something of a summer hiatus. Officially I'm back after Labor Day.

But one last post and recommendation for the summer.

"Senna" is a documentary about about the Brazilian motor-racing champion, Ayrton Senna that is being released in the States tomorrow. It explores his arrival in Formula One in the mid 1980s, and follows his struggles both on track against his rival, French World Champion Alain Prost, and off it, against the internal politics of the sport. Directed by Asif Kapadia, it was a huge success in England and won the World Cinema Audience Award for documentaries at the 2011 Sundance Film Festival.

The film is a gripping story on many levels. There is the charisma of its subject, matters of spirituality, and glimpses into Brazilian culture. Beacause I knew so little about Senna and motor racing, the story kept me on the edge of my seat while the insight in to Formula One racing was a fascinating glimpse into another world.

Just see it.

Ciao for now.

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