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Marius Becker

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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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EXAM PREP EXAM PREP: Students in Nanjing, Jiangsu province, shout slogans including, ‘I must go to college,’ and ’Father and Mother, I love you,’ after a motivational speech given ahead of college entrance exams. (Sean Yong/Reuters)

ALL TOGETHER NOW ALL TOGETHER NOW: Musicians participate in a concert featuring 1110 artists playing the veena, a classical Indian musical instrument, in Bangalore. (Manjunath Kiran/Agence France-Presse/Getty Images)

UNITED IN ST. PAUL UNITED IN ST. PAUL: Union members filled the Minnesota State Capitol rotunda to show support for and listen to pro-union speakers Tuesday. (Richard Sennott/Minneapolis Star Tribune via Zuma Press)

MARCHING IN MALI MARCHING IN MALI: Several thousand people took to the streets of Mali’s capital Wednesday in support of last week’s military takeover. (Rebecca Blackwell/Associated Press)

FAST AND FURIOUS FAST AND FURIOUS: The 2012 World Team Table Tennis Championships is under way in Dortmund, Germany. (Marius Becker/European Pressphoto Agency)

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PRAYING FOR A GAIN? A Roman Catholic priest led a Mass before the start of the last trading day of the year at the Philippine Stock Exchange in Makati City, east of Manila, Thursday. (Rolex Dela Pena/European Pressphoto Agency)

NO, NO, NO NO, NO, NO: An elephant calf named Uli struggled against a zookeeper who wanted to weigh him, at the zoo in Wuppertal, Germany, Thursday. Some 5,000 animals were counted, measured and weighed as part of a broad inventory. (Marius Becker/European Pressphoto Agency)

DEADLY DEADLY: Locals stood near the bodies of the victims of an airstrike in southeastern Turkey’s Sirnak Province Thursday. Some 35 people were killed late Wednesday in what Kurdish politicians say was a Turkish strike against civilians it mistook for members of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers Party. (Ihlas News Agency/European Pressphoto Agency)

MOB SCENE MOB SCENE: Travelers lined up Wednesday to buy train tickets in Changsha, China, as the country’s railway stations began to sell tickets for travel during the country’s 2012 Spring Festival, which starts Jan. 8. (ChinaFotoPress/Zuma Press)

ICED ICED: Jason LaBarbera, goalie for the Phoenix Coyotes, let the game-winning goal slip through his legs during overtime in the team’s game against the Boston Bruins Wednesday in Glendale, Ariz. The Bruins won, 2-1. (Keith Charles/Southcreek/Zuma Press)

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LETTING IN THE LIGHT
LETTING IN THE LIGHT: Acid-attack survivor Memoona, 23 years old, posed for a picture Wednesday in her Karachi, Pakistan, home. The nursing student lost an eye when a boy threw acid on her over an old family feud. New laws explicitly criminalize the attacks. (Insiya Syed/Reuters)

WINDY
WINDY: Visitors braced themselves as Marine One departed the White House in Washington Wednesday, carrying President Barack Obama and first lady Michelle Obama. Mr. Obama was en route to speak with troops in Fort Bragg, N.C., after they arrived from Iraq. (Jim Lo Scalzo/European Pressphoto Agency)

MOURNING PERIOD
MOURNING PERIOD: Women comforted each other in Liege, Belgium, Wednesday. Police said grenade-lobbing gunman Nordine Amrani killed two teenage boys and a toddler at a shopping plaza Tuesday. Authorities also found a fourth victim, a woman, in his garage. The suspect fatally shot himself. (Marius Becker/DPA/Zuma Press)

STUCK ON
STUCK ON: Etibar Elchiyev posed with utensils stuck to his body in Tbilisi, Georgia, Wednesday. Mr. Elchiyev was attempting to break the Guinness record for most spoons on a body. (David Mdzinarishvili/Reuters)

STANDING FOR YULIA
STANDING FOR YULIA: Supporters of former Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko gathered outside a court in Kiev Wednesday. Ms. Tymoshenko did not appear at the hearing. She is appealing a seven-year sentence after she was found guilty of abuse of office while negotiating a gas contract with Russia. (Sergei Chuzavkov/Associated Press)

IN THE FRAY
IN THE FRAY: A security official tried to control a crowd that gathered outside a polling station in Giza, Egypt, Wednesday. Voters poured into polling stations for the second round of parliamentary voting. (Mohammed Hossam/Agence France-Presse/Getty Images)

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