Our High-Speed Future

Today's installment of our series "The Future in Motion" features Joseph Sussman, Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering at MIT, and Douglas Malewicki, Aerospace engineer and inventor of the SkyTran. 


The SkyTran is Personal Rapid Transit system that uses magnetic levitation tracks to achieve the equivalent of over 200 miles per gallon fuel economy at 100 miles per hour or faster. The way Malewicki envisions it, we'll be moving at the speed of Internet on our way to work.

Sussman talks about a future system in which we don't rely as heavily on cars. How would we control for such behavioral change? Dynamic prices as a function of time of day, location,  vehicle type, to give incentives to drivers to make different kinds of decisions. "The notion here is that one can perhaps have a a lesser need of building more infrastructure that is built for peak hour capacity by enticing people to drive at some time outside the peak hour," says Sussman.

As part of this series, every Wednesday until April 7, we will release new interviews with people who are changing the way we get from here to there, from entrepreneurs to policy makers. So far, we've featured interviews with Richard Schaden, Aeronautical engineer and founder of Beyond The Edge; Mitchell Joachim, founder of Terreform ONE; Enrique Penalosa, former mayor of Bogata; Felix Kramer, founder of the non-profit, California Cars Initiative; famous aerospace engineer Burt Rutan; director of MIT Media Lab's Smart Cities Group Bill Mitchell; PhD student at MIT Media Lab, Ryan Chin; Director of Advanced Mobility Research at Art Center College of Design, Geoff Wardle; and Caltech chemistry professor Nate Lewis. The schedule for the final week is as follows:

· April 7: Peter H. Diamandis, Chairman and CEO of the X PRIZE Foundation, which promotes the formation of space tourism and other major milestones and the co-Founder of Space Adventures. 

· April 7: Michael Schrage-- Research fellow with the Sloan School of Management's Center for Digital Business and a visiting fellow at Imperial College's London 'Innovation and Entrepreneurship' program.

Big Think
Sponsored by Lumina Foundation

Upvote/downvote each of the videos below!

As you vote, keep in mind that we are looking for a winner with the most engaging social venture pitch - an idea you would want to invest in.

Keep reading Show less

7 fascinating UNESCO World Heritage Sites

Here are 7 often-overlooked World Heritage Sites, each with its own history.

Photo by Raunaq Patel on Unsplash
Culture & Religion
  • UNESCO World Heritage Sites are locations of high value to humanity, either for their cultural, historical, or natural significance.
  • Some are even designated as World Heritage Sites because humans don't go there at all, while others have felt the effects of too much human influence.
  • These 7 UNESCO World Heritage Sites each represent an overlooked or at-risk facet of humanity's collective cultural heritage.
Keep reading Show less

Scientists create a "lifelike" material that has metabolism and can self-reproduce

An innovation may lead to lifelike evolving machines.

Shogo Hamada/Cornell University
Surprising Science
  • Scientists at Cornell University devise a material with 3 key traits of life.
  • The goal for the researchers is not to create life but lifelike machines.
  • The researchers were able to program metabolism into the material's DNA.
Keep reading Show less

Scientists discover how to trap mysterious dark matter

A new method promises to capture an elusive dark world particle.

Surprising Science
  • Scientists working on the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) devised a method for trapping dark matter particles.
  • Dark matter is estimated to take up 26.8% of all matter in the Universe.
  • The researchers will be able to try their approach in 2021, when the LHC goes back online.
Keep reading Show less