Imagine driving from Los Angeles to San Francisco in less than an hour without leaving the ground. It’s not exactly teleportation, but the next best thing.
What it is?
The California High-Speed Rail, a mass transit system due to be completed by 2029, will carry passengers between 24 stations on an 800-mile route at 200 miles per hour. The only problem? The train in question will be noticeably slower, more expensive and more dangerous than flying. The entire project will take years, and is widely regarded as a miracle.
Elon Musk has the best idea.
Musk was initially very vague in his description, but since then we’ve learned a lot about Hyperloop and the technology behind it — and it’s almost ready for testing.
How it works
Elon Musk’s Hyperloop will operate from San Francisco to Los Angeles, moving passengers at speeds up to 800 miles per hour. Instead of driving for five-plus hours, you would spend about an hour on a Hyperloop «pod» that would travel through a tube containing a very special environment.
Let’s talk about what this entails.
Musk and his team looked at several ways to make this technology work. The first was an enlarged version of the old pneumatic tubes used to send packages inside and between buildings. “In principle, you could use very powerful fans to force air at high speed through a pipe and move man-sized pods from Los Angeles to San Francisco,” Musk writes. «However, the friction of a 350-mile column of air moving at near the speed of sound against the inside of the tube is so great that it is impossible for all practical purposes.»
They also considered using a vacuum environment with electromagnetic suspension. According to Musk, “The problem with this approach is that it’s incredibly difficult to maintain a near-vacuum in the room, let alone 700 miles (round trip) of a big pipe with dozens of station locks and thousands of containers coming in and out every day. , All it takes is one leaking seal or a small crack somewhere in hundreds of miles of pipe and the whole system stops working.”