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Musk unveils tech to get from LA to SF in 30 minutes, which in California, is the easy part...

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
August 12th, 2013
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

Billionaire visionary, Elon Musk, is set to announce his "hyperloop" scheme today, a plan that would allegedly shuttle passengers between cities faster than the speed of sound via tubes. The first hyperloop could be built between Los Angeles and San Francisco.

LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - Until today, Musk has been mum on what exactly the hyperloop is. However, he has dropped enough hints that clever followers have discerned how the system will probably work.

Musk describes the system as "A cross between a Concorde and a railgun and an air hockey table."

Others describe it as a system of vacuum tubes similar to the ones used in banks and large buildings to transport money and small items from room to room.

According to Musk, the system would be able to transport a person between Los Angeles and San Francisco within 30 minutes.

Musk's idea came as he felt dissatisfied with California's high speed rail project, often criticized as the "bullet train to nowhere." Currently, the California bullet train is set to cost nearly $70 billion and will take 15 years to build. More than likely, both of those numbers will increase.

The train is designed to link San Francisco to Los Angeles via a route through the massive San Joaquin valley. California conservatives have decried the cost of the project and the low speeds of the trains that will be required to make the myriad stops along the route. The train will also have to pass through the Tehachapi Mountains, which will slow it further. It may also cut through several towns requiring the demolishing of homes and businesses.

All this has jaded many who initially thought the train would bring progress to California and make travel between the two major cities more practical. Currently, a trip between the two cities takes about 8 hours by car, and while flight time is about 30 minutes, it's expensive and takes time boarding and departing.

Enter Musk with the idea of a hyperloop and the promise of 30 minute travel between the two points, not to mention lower cost. In fact, the transport may cost less than a train ticket.

What has been divined so far, is that trains, or vehicles, will move through tubes that will be near-vacuums. Using magnets for propulsion, the vehicles will speed through the tubes faster than the speed of sound. Musk envisions frequent departures and expansion to further destinations.

The hyperloop could become a "fifth mode of travel" according to Musk.

The best part of the concept is that it can be built with existing technology.

Musk has pledged to make the idea and its plans open source, which means he will publish the plans for his design as well as other ideas, and welcome public development on the idea. He says that his work schedule between SpaceX and Tesla prevents him from promoting the idea himself. However, other entrepreneurs, aided by designs and ideas contributed by the public, might be able to make the system a reality.

Of course, once the designs are perfected, it will be another challenge to plan the route and construct the hyperloop. For that part of the project, planners could consult with veterans of the high speed rail project in California - they have certainly learned that bringing concept to reality is fraught with far more challenges than one can imagine, and the technical ones are the easiest to solve.

Politics is another matter.

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