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Photos: The Vatican’s special ‘white smoke’ stove for announcing the new pope

Journalists take photos and video of the stove just set up in the Sistine Chapel, where it will be used to announce the selection of the next pope. (Gabriel Bouys/AFP/Getty Images)

On Saturday, workmen climbed the roof on the Sistine Chapel to install an ancient-looking contraption that will soon alert the world, in the Vatican's famously dramatic and secretive style, whether or not the cardinals have selected a new pope.

The device is pretty cool, a low-tech medium for announcing the selection of the next leader of 1.2 billion Catholics. Business Insider calls it "steampunk."

There are two stoves, which appear to be iron, maybe not so different from what you might find in an old cabin. Both are connected by a copper-looking pipe, which leads up through the roof of the Sistine Chapel to the just-installed chimney.

When the cardinals vote on candidates for the next pope tomorrow, they'll burn their ballots in the first stove, on the left in the above photo, to maintain secrecy. Then they'll use the second stove to burn special chemicals that will give off either white or black smoke. The latter color signals that the "conclave" has not selected the next pope; the former that they've decided. There's a special spotlight ready in case they decide after dark.