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Author Topic: Don't swallow the hype!
Jerome Nicholson
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http://www.theatlantic.com/technology/print/2013/08/elon-musks-futuristical-napkin-drawing-of-a-mass-transit-system/278608/

The above is a more skeptical view of the Elon Musk "Hyperloop" tube that some of the media are gushing over.
Nothing to be alarmed about yet.

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TwinStarRocket
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No windows?
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Jerome Nicholson
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I'm wondering why Musk chose California over places like Florida, Texas, Europe, or Asia for this ultra - high - speed tube.

And who needs windows at 800 MPH? To say nothing of bathrooms!

Truth is, until I read this article I was thinking it would be a complete game changer. If it becomes widespread, not only would it put Airlines AND most trains out of business, but at a ticket price of $20, it'll kill Greyhound and Megabus!

However, I now doubt the day of the Jetsons has arrived yet.

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Henry Kisor
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Another Popular Science magazine pipe dream.
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HopefulRailUser
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Sigh,I had hopes for this. Musk's company, SpaceX, is local here and one of my friends works there building rockets. Very exciting stuff and Musk is a brilliant entrepreneur.

And very rich!

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Vicki in usually sunny Southern California

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Geoff Mayo
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quote:
Originally posted by Henry Kisor:
Another Popular Science magazine pipe dream.

I guess somebody had to say it!

The concept isn't exactly new - ideas were mooted over a century ago - but maybe just refined a little with specifics. Whether somebody would want to sit in a small enclosed tube at 800mph is probably a more challenging issue to overcome.

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Geoff M.

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MargaretSPfan
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Musk is really long on unrealistic dreams and very short on real-world facts. [disclaimer: I am not an electronics engineer]

1. He is proposing to cram 28 people into small windowless pods -- a recipe for claustrophobia.

2. This thing would be built in a major earthquake area. Does anyone want to be in one of those things in a big earthquake? I didn't think so. Not me!

3. with only 28 people per pod, there is no way this will be able to transport even a small fraction of the people who need and deserve good public transportation. The Hyperloop would be "boutique transportation".

4. There is no way to protect the entire length of the tube system from terrorism. No way at all.

5. Professional engineers have stated that his initial estimates for the cost of this project are way too small -- by a factor of at least 10, if not 100.

6. I read that Mr. Musk is a big opponent of High Speed Rail. If HSR were built here in California, it would take the monies that his fancy pie-in-the-sky Hyperloop would need. And the airlines are not just going to sit by quietly while some other industry takes any of their market share. (For the record, I detest HSR in the form it has been presented for California -- and other places. We desperately need the billions that have already been wasted on HSR to be spent on improving ordinary passenger rail here -- which would be a much more sensible use of all that money. But ordinary rail is not the "shiny new thing" that people have been taught to want. Sigh.....

And, as far as his much-vaunted SpaceX goes, it is over -hyped. NASA has already done low-earth orbit -- to perfection. The real frontier is way out there in true outer space -- where no for-profit company is ever going to go, as it is much, much too risky and expensive to do so. That is what the government is for -- projects like the Mars Rover "Curiosity" and the Cassini spacecraft that is now near Jupiter, and the "Dawn" spacecraft that recently orbited the asteroid Vesta, to name a few.

And the Tesla? That is not exactly a car that most people can afford, at at least $60,000 each. Even a Prius is a budget-buster when it comes time to replace its batteries -- which I believe costs $3,000!

The sooner this silly Hyperloop project is abandoned, the better, so we can get on with getting more money for Amtrak (and possibly -- some day! -- improving Amtrak management and services, and greatly increasing the frequencies of LDTs, medium-distance rail, and commuter rail.

Margaret

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Geoff Mayo
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Just a couple of observations on your points - not passing judgement either way:

quote:
Originally posted by MargaretSPfan:
3. with only 28 people per pod, there is no way this will be able to transport even a small fraction of the people who need and deserve good public transportation. The Hyperloop would be "boutique transportation".

That's 28 people every 30 seconds though, meaning 50,000 a day in each direction if you ran at that capacity and frequency for a little over 16 hours per day. I've no idea what the airlines transport between LA and SF but these tubes would surely exceed that considerably.

However, 30 seconds is perhaps a little optimistic. Moving-block rail systems always assume the train in front is stopped even if it knows it isn't: this figure of 30 seconds sounds to be me like an assumption of braking inside the braking curve of the pod in front.

quote:
Originally posted by MargaretSPfan:
4. There is no way to protect the entire length of the tube system from terrorism. No way at all.

My newspaper wasn't delivered this morning. I don't think it was terrorism-related, as the media would say. But in all seriousness, this is no different from every other mode of transport. What can be done is to line these tubes with sensors ensuring the integrity of the system - not just from scares of terrorism.

quote:
Originally posted by MargaretSPfan:
The sooner this silly Hyperloop project is abandoned, the better, so we can get on with getting more money for Amtrak (and possibly -- some day! -- improving Amtrak management and services, and greatly increasing the frequencies of LDTs, medium-distance rail, and commuter rail.

To be fair, I believe his plan was for it to be privately-funded, thus not affecting any monies for HSR/Amtrak/rail.

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Geoff M.

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Henry Kisor
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Marrying the phrases "privately funded" and "transportation project" reminds me of "Want to make a small fortune? Start with a big one."
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George Harris
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quote:
Originally posted by Henry Kisor:
Marrying the phrases "privately funded" and "transportation project" reminds me of "Want to make a small fortune? Start with a big one."

Love it, love it, love it.
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Jerome Nicholson
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http://www.gizmodo.com.au/2013/08/how-one-inventor-secretly-built-a-pneumatic-subway-under-nyc/

Seems this idea is even older than previouslt thought.
At least this guy had his system up and running for a while!

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George Harris
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To call this a Popular Science pipe dream is one of the nicest things I could think to say about it. I first began reading Popular Science in the late 1950’s. Many of their ideas and concepts I found fascination and looked forward to their arrival. However as the anticipated arrival of quite a few of these wonders has come and gone I have gradually transitioned from being a regular reader to occasional reader to almost never reading it. That is not even mentioning the real developments that occurred that Popular Science never anticipated.

Henry, there was a time when privately funded transportation projects were possible, and quite a bit of the railroad mileage in this country was built that way, but not even all of it was, and that day is long gone.

A few of the things that I think of that put this concept firmly in the realm of you better quit smoking that left handed tobacco are:

First those related to getting a place for the thing to be built:

1. Whether road or railroad or hyperloop a path between end points must be obtained and that means dealing with landowners, whether private or government. (Do you really think this thing can be built down I-5 without a tremendous amount of dealing with the state of California for right of way, permits, etc.?

2. People have certain normal dimensions and therefore people carriers will have certain minimum dimensions. For a 28 person (or 40 person or 200 person) container the minimum cross section dimensions are going to be in the range of those of bus, whether it is guided by tires on a road, rails, these tube, monorail beams, a maglev guideway or something else. Plug in two tubes, track, or whatever, space between them, supporting facilities, etc., you are going to need a pathway with a width of around 100 feet, which is about the norm for a two lane roadway in a rural area or a standard railroad right of way. What is the difference between obtaining this for the high speed railroad or a pair of tubes? Do you really think the Central Valley landowners will scream any less over this than they are over the HSR?

3. The laws of physics still work. If you want to change directions you will need to have a really large radius curve. The force is proportional to the square of the velocity. That is, if this is going to run at 800 mph compared to the high speed railroad which is being designed for an ultimate maximum speed of 250 mph, the curve will have to have 10.24 times the radius to go 3.2 times the speed. That means you have to have a REALLY STRAIGHT PATH. Speaking of laws of physics, there is the issue of the rate of acceleration and braking that is being mentioned. It is a little high, to say the least.

4. Mountain and fault crossings: This is California specific. To go from Bakersfield to Los Angeles the equivalent of crossing the Alps. That is, you do the equivalent of skip Switzerland and built a tunnel from Italy to Germany or you climb something like 3,000 to 4,000 feet and then go back down the same change in elevation. And, while you are about it you cross the Garlock and San Andreas faults. Do you really want to do that in a tunnel?

I think there are more, but this is a good starter for a list.

Some other thoughts:

1. Nothing built by man works perfectly all the time. How do you evacuate one of these pods? There are safety requirements that apply to all forms of transportation. What will be required here?

2. Passenger safety under normal conditions: Are we having these 28 people are however many stuffed into this pod without any sort of attendant?

3. It seems that all these futuristic transport concepts haul people in small numbers per container. Yet, when you look at the facilities that really do carry people in quantity the usual in the air container carries 150 plus. The usual rail is in the 2 to 300 plus range. The Taiwan High Speed trains are 12 car Shinkansen trains that probably carry around 1000 per train. The 30 second spacing between pods that is being described is a hallucination. The likelihood that any form of safety analysis will consider this rational I would regard as absolutely nil.

4. Terrorism? I regard that a non-issue, or something to be brought out as a strawman. It applies about equally to any and all transportation on a fixed facility whether rail or road, or some other form of guideway such as this.

As to cost: I do not see how this could possibly be cheaper in any form or fashion that the High Speed Railroad and I see a lot of ways it could cost a lot more. I would suspect that constructing the facilities to support the tubes would be no cheaper than the facilities needed to support tracks, and could likely be far more expensive. Track and electrification will certainly be way cheaper than the tubes.

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RR4me
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I wonder if we are all focusing on the wrong future - still thinking of current "train" definitions, however fast or tubular. What I think about is the google experiment in self driving cars. Consider that if it works, it is possible that cars in the future could drive nose to tail with the one in front of it and behind it. Essentially, there would be virtual, custom "trains" of separate cars who happen to all be going on the same direction - perhaps 100 cars long on a trip from SF to LA. The drafting, computer controlled engine modules can create an effciency almost equal to trains of today (maybe better). Cars, since driving would not be the responsibility it is now, would probably end up looking much different - lounge like chairs, room to move around, etc. Custom itineraries would make such travel much more preferable. Maybe I should write an article for Poplular Mechanics [Wink]
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Mike Smith
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Wait a minute... If my bank can successfully receive my deposit slips via a "hyperloop" tube, why can't we send people to different cities like that???


/s

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Henry Kisor
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Mike, back in 1897, when office pneumatic tubes came into use, the Post Office sent a cat through the tubes to another building. The cat survived but apparently not the record of what it said afterward.
Here's the story.

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