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Manishka Windweaver

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Could the Hyperloop change the world even more than the Internet?

Elon Musk has given hints about a new form of transportation, a Hyperloop, that is a non-scheduled service which leaves when you arrive, is immune to the weather and never crashes. It goes twice as fast as the average airplane.

There are plenty of sites making their guesses about how it works, but I'm not interested in that. For the purposes of this conversation, let's assume that it works really well and it has been expanded to connect the 1000 most populous cities in the world. Let's assume that to get to the furthest reach of the network, it costs 8 hrs and $400.00.

It's been said that the internet erased all the borders and made earth a borderless society. Except that it didn't. Not in real life. We have a virtual reality that virtually erased the borders. This was because of the reduction or elimination of speed and cost of communication.

What if we had a new innovation that reduced the speed and cost of travel. The political borders, security checks at stations may still be there, but how would that change the way humans interact?

The tourism industry would boom. Weekend date in Paris? why not? It was a luxury reserved for the jetsetters back in the LAST millenium!

Tweeting and facebooking your support for social causes? not anymore! We'll be able to get together right in front of the collapsed Bangladeshi factory where Walmart gets its clothes made.

In his talk 'Global ethic vs, national interest, Gordon Brown starts off by showing us the iconic photographs that moved the world into action. He says "What we see unlocks the invisible ties and bonds of sympathy that bring us together to become a human community" How much more could seeing the world in real life do?

When I was 5, I read a Dr. Seuss book that mentioned Zanzibar. How fantastic would it be to take your 5 year old there?

What impacts do you think it could have on society? Politics? Religion? Economics?
Where would you go? Why?
How would you use this new tool to make an impact on earth?

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  • Aug 7 2013: Interesting idea. The costs are more than twice the cost of an interstate highway. So maybe within reason as far as costs go. The question is what volume can it handle. The speed is impressive and on par with an airplane. Will it be primarily as a people mover or will it transport substantial amounts of cargo? Moving material quicker and cheaper will have a greater impact then just moving people.

    With the understanding it is possible, back to your question. I personally doubt it will change much. It will add another competitor to how one would get from one place to another. If as you state a ticket may cost $400.00 to travel 1/2 around the world, then that could be a game changer. But there is still energy costs, maintenance costs, the initial infrastructure cost and the need for profit. I would guess $400.00 would not likley get you from LA to San Francisco.

    In my opinion the Hyperloop will not have even close to the impact that the internet has had.
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      Aug 7 2013: Hi Milo,

      Since Elon was comparing the hyperloop to the high speed railsystem, then I would guess that he was also talking about comparable volumes as well. I believe the ticket cist of the hyperloop would be able to compete even with rail systems.
      The high speed rail system proposed in california Costs $66 billion and ticket prices are expected to be about $50.
      http://reason.org/news/show/study-california-high-speed-rail

      Compare that to $6 billion, much faster speeds. Elon Musk estimated just 30 minutes between LA and SF.

      I don't see why it can't take cargo as well. I would guess the plan is to use it for cargo first to prove safety.

      Speeds are expected to be faster than planes.
      Cost http://www.boeing.com/boeing/commercial/prices/
      http://www.aa.com/i18n/aboutUs/ourPlanes/boeing767.jsp
      http://askville.amazon.com/cost-airline-fly-commercial-jet-York-Los-Angeles/AnswerViewer.do?requestId=2593308

      Thanks for your comment Milo!
      • Aug 7 2013: Musk has likened the hyperloop to both a ground-based Concorde and a "cross between a Concorde and a railgun and an air hockey table." Based on this comment I was thinking it may not be a cargo transport. The cost to put in rail is much higher than interstate highways with this landing someplace inbetween. Again with the smaller cost, I'm guessing it will not be set to carry those kinds of heavy loads. He's talking about building something for $17.5 million per mile about twice the cost for an interstate highway. all within the possible of reality.

        Anyway, we will see if that can be done and can move the number of persons or material to pay for itself. I still don't see it having a significant impact on changing the world.
      • Aug 11 2013: Manishka,

        Thanks for the link and the information. It will be a huge step forward, but not likely life changing. I agree it will be politics that holds everything up.

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