Recommended Reading: Everything That’s Inside Your iPhone

We are so separated from the manufacture of goods today that it’s hard to comprehend how an iPhone is even put together, let alone where and how the raw elements from which it is made are collected. By pulverizing a brand new iPhone 6, Brian Merchant, with the help of metallurgists, was able to break down an iPhone into its component raw elements and track the birth of a phone from dredged up earth to your pocket. From Everything That’s Inside Your iPhone:

First, they weighed the device – 129 grams, just as Apple advertises. The iPhone was set inside an impact machine used for pulverizing rock, where, in a contained environment, a 55-kilogram hammer was dropped on it from 1.1 meters above.

Naturally, the lithium-ion battery caught fire. The entire mass of the phone was then recovered, and placed in an industrial blender. Efforts to break it down inside said blender did not go so well – so it was screened, separated, and broken down in a ring and puck pulverizer until the material was a fine powder. “It surprised me how difficult it was to destroy,” Michaud said.


How’s this for working conditions:

I’m nervous. Even if tourists spelunk here each week, even if children work here every day, this slipshod mine tunnel is still terrifying. Potosí is the highest-altitude major city in the world, and we are even higher than the city, at about 15,000 feet. The air is thin, and my breathing is short. One look at the splintery wooden beams that hold open the narrowing, pitch-dark mine shaft we’re about to walk down, one lungful of the sulfuric air, and my only impulse is to turn back.

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