Will the Hyperloop Change How We Commute?
Elon Musk wants to shoot us back and forth from work at 750 miles per hour.
Freedom seems to be the new word of the day when it comes to employment. With 30 percent of the U.S. workforce now freelancing, the old 9-to-5 work schedule could be losing its dominance. Remote work situations give employees and contractors the ability to live where they want and control their own schedule. However, there’s also clearly challenges with data security and management that come with a dispersed workforce.
What if people had some of the benefits of remote work, such as much greater leeway in where they lived, but were still able to come into a central office most of the time?
It’s hard to imagine, but a company called Hyperloop Technologies is now moving into a testing phase of a shuttle system that could allow people to do just that. The system, which has been hailed by Tesla investor Elon Musk, could allow people to travel the distance of San Francisco to Seattle in less than an hour. At full speed, the Hyperloop is envisioned to be able to travel at a mind-boggling 750 miles per hour or faster. If all goes well, testing will soon begin in Las Vegas after a short test track is built.
Musk is so passionate about the idea of the Hyperloop that he’s also supporting a separate company called Hyperloop Transportation Technologies, which plans to test a version of the same product in Los Angeles. Both companies’ product would rely on the same principle: transportation through a partial vacuum as a means of reducing aerodynamic drag. Magnetics and electronic motors would also play a role in creating this speedy transport system.
However, the Hyperloop does come with some potential downsides. Given its multi-billion dollar price tag to develop, some wonder whether the technology could ever be cost-effective enough to be used by more than just an elite few. The construction of miles of vacuum-sealed tubes over earthquake territory is another stated concern. Additionally, the ride itself might not be all that pleasant, since the tube needs to be as small as possible to save costs.
Still, we're curious about how the Hyperloop technology will develop over the coming years. The “cool” factor alone is enough to pique our imaginations and get us thinking about an alternate future.
Image Credit: ROBYN BECK / Staff via Getty Images
Stefani is a writer and urban planner based in Oakland, CA. She holds a master’s in City and Regional Planning from UC Berkeley and a bachelor’s in Human Biology from Stanford University. In her free time, she is often found reading diverse literature, writing stories, or enjoying the outdoors. Follow her on Twitter: @stefanicox
The Spilhaus Projection may be more than 75 years old, but it has never been more relevant than today.
- Athelstan Spilhaus designed an oceanic thermometer to fight the Nazis, and the weather balloon that got mistaken for a UFO in Roswell.
- In 1942, he produced a world map with a unique perspective, presenting the world's oceans as one body of water.
- The Spilhaus Projection could be just what the oceans need to get the attention their problems deserve.
It's just the current cycle that involves opiates, but methamphetamine, cocaine, and others have caused the trajectory of overdoses to head the same direction
- It appears that overdoses are increasing exponentially, no matter the drug itself
- If the study bears out, it means that even reducing opiates will not slow the trajectory.
- The causes of these trends remain obscure, but near the end of the write-up about the study, a hint might be apparent
Through computationally intensive computer simulations, researchers have discovered that "nuclear pasta," found in the crusts of neutron stars, is the strongest material in the universe.
- The strongest material in the universe may be the whimsically named "nuclear pasta."
- You can find this substance in the crust of neutron stars.
- This amazing material is super-dense, and is 10 billion times harder to break than steel.
Superman is known as the "Man of Steel" for his strength and indestructibility. But the discovery of a new material that's 10 billion times harder to break than steel begs the question—is it time for a new superhero known as "Nuclear Pasta"? That's the name of the substance that a team of researchers thinks is the strongest known material in the universe.
Unlike humans, when stars reach a certain age, they do not just wither and die, but they explode, collapsing into a mass of neurons. The resulting space entity, known as a neutron star, is incredibly dense. So much so that previous research showed that the surface of a such a star would feature amazingly strong material. The new research, which involved the largest-ever computer simulations of a neutron star's crust, proposes that "nuclear pasta," the material just under the surface, is actually stronger.
The competition between forces from protons and neutrons inside a neutron star create super-dense shapes that look like long cylinders or flat planes, referred to as "spaghetti" and "lasagna," respectively. That's also where we get the overall name of nuclear pasta.
Caplan & Horowitz/arXiv
Diagrams illustrating the different types of so-called nuclear pasta.
The researchers' computer simulations needed 2 million hours of processor time before completion, which would be, according to a press release from McGill University, "the equivalent of 250 years on a laptop with a single good GPU." Fortunately, the researchers had access to a supercomputer, although it still took a couple of years. The scientists' simulations consisted of stretching and deforming the nuclear pasta to see how it behaved and what it would take to break it.
While they were able to discover just how strong nuclear pasta seems to be, no one is holding their breath that we'll be sending out missions to mine this substance any time soon. Instead, the discovery has other significant applications.
One of the study's co-authors, Matthew Caplan, a postdoctoral research fellow at McGill University, said the neutron stars would be "a hundred trillion times denser than anything on earth." Understanding what's inside them would be valuable for astronomers because now only the outer layer of such starts can be observed.
"A lot of interesting physics is going on here under extreme conditions and so understanding the physical properties of a neutron star is a way for scientists to test their theories and models," Caplan added. "With this result, many problems need to be revisited. How large a mountain can you build on a neutron star before the crust breaks and it collapses? What will it look like? And most importantly, how can astronomers observe it?"
Another possibility worth studying is that, due to its instability, nuclear pasta might generate gravitational waves. It may be possible to observe them at some point here on Earth by utilizing very sensitive equipment.
The team of scientists also included A. S. Schneider from California Institute of Technology and C. J. Horowitz from Indiana University.
Check out the study "The elasticity of nuclear pasta," published in Physical Review Letters.
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