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?

  • Sep 3 2013: No, the internet isn't just about people it is about idea's. Moving people will not have the impact of moving idea's. The hyperloop can be an important development but in no way as revolutionary as the free exchange of idea's.
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    Aug 10 2013: I'd love it, more social integration globally, definitely better than facebook, don't have to go to fake ethnic restaurants anymore, however, increased trafficking, and security will be issues to address. Elon Musk, YOU GO MAN!
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      Aug 10 2013: EXACTLY!!!
      The security will of course have to be addressed just like any airport.
      Where would you go and why?
  • Aug 9 2013: The internet travels at the speed of light. It also is immune to the weather and can travel at any time. The cost of transmitting data over the internet will always be much cheaper and easier than transmitting a person. The internet already works very well.

    I don't understand the point about the internet not erasing all borders. Are you saying that North Korea will block access to the internet for their people but let people visit using a hyperloop? If not, what is the point?
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      Aug 10 2013: You're right, the internet does work very well. Transmitting data will continue. are you saying transmitting people and goods is redundant now?
      • Aug 12 2013: No, not saying that and that was not the original question or discussion.
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          Aug 13 2013: Oh great! I was hoping you'd say that. What I mean is that although the internet started the job of erasing the borders, it did not complete it. According to Ethan zuckerman, even though the internet gave us the ability to interact with anyone in the world, we do not. not as much as we could. (see his talk posted above).

          To complete the process of erasing borders, we need to integrate physically. We do some already as there are planes, but it is still in it's infancy. Not all the people who would like to travel, migrate, do business outside the country get to because of cost and speed, aside from legal permissions.

          Countries will hold onto their borders as long as there is a perceived need to. Increased integration will diminish the perceived need I believe. I'm sure there is a critical mass that just hasn't been reached, and I hope the hyperloop helps us reach it.
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    Aug 7 2013: Humanity is barely a "we".

    By subtracting ourselves from the flow of local reality, we become a no-thing .. whether we face each other through computer screens, mobile devices or face to face. We are far less than we once were, and the face in your face is a ghost of what it could have been.
    Humanity has become the most abundant form of flesh on the planet. We mark time until our predator arrives. And when it does, we will once again become real.
    All things looped are the same as a vacuum - and nature abhors a vacuum.

    BTW .. Elon Musk is quite up-front about wanting to retire on Mars.
    He obviously does not want to be here when the predator comes.
    All his business activities are aimed at delaying the moment until his Spacex venture has gotten his lifeboat ready.
    I like this Elon Musk.. he is an extraordinarily sane human being.
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      Aug 7 2013: I like this Elon Musk.. he is an extraordinarily sane human being.
      He and I have found our predator and show a brave face
      We have seen the predator
      I saw it and shook in my boots
      I fought it and escaped scathed
      I fight it everyday
      You and I see glimpses of it
      sometimes a whif, sometimes a distant howl
      the screech of tires
      the thud of an axe
      the stench of blood
      the touch of heat radiating from the desert, asphalt
      the look of anguish on her face
      the clues of what it is and how it will catch you
      We have seen the predator you and I
      We know it well
      yet don't recognize
      The face in your face
      When the lifeboat leaves, who will be in it, the hunter or the hunted?

      Thank you for your thoughts, In the hyperloop, where on earth would you go and what would you do there?
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        Aug 8 2013: In the hyperloop?

        We would spread our disease.

        I'm very much in favour of giving our immune systems a lot of exercise .. what does not kill us makes us strong.

        But I think we suffer from hubris .. the development of the immune is not supposed to help us beyond the incursions across the horizons our own eyes can see. And even then, the fleas on rats killed as many as the Mongol .. and then the Spanish flu dwarfed the first world war.

        No .. I think Elon knows best - our predator is the machine.
        The machine was supposed to make heaven on Earth .. all the bad stuff about maintaining a civilization .. that was all supposed to be given to the machines.. they would work for us.
        But look .. now .. we work for the machines.
        The post modern ethic of cut-and-paste .. such that your ideas mean nothing unless you can quote someone else.
        The loop .. see?
        And what is it that a machine does?
        It loops .. it is the economy of scale.
        A scale that is fit only for a machine.

        btw - thank you for the poetry.. There should be more of it.
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          Aug 8 2013: I like the loop and I despise it. I'm in a loop with this screen. through it, I can see your words and you can see mine.

          I raise my eyes and see the horizon. I want to see everything within my horizon, so I take a closer look and discover that my horizon has expanded. So I look back down to the screen to tell you and realise that through it there is another horizon. I want to show you that when you break through the horizon, you don't stop seeing. the horizon expands .

          I'm gonna hop in the loop and take my son to see your horizon. then we are gonna drag you out of yours and take you to the horizon at the end of land. then we'll take a dive and see the horizon under the water. Then we'll hop in the loop and let it take us to another.

          then we'll report back to the machine and find Elon there, not abandoning the machine, but using it, extending his horizon and mine into another loop.

          you can't loop if you go from loop to loop, never repeating, extending the horizon, exploring, listening, feeling, seeing, living. and when I see you, back in your horizon running your loop again, I will tell you about it, and it will mean something ....to me, perhaps to you too.

          haha, that was my first attempt at poetry in 20 years. Your post sounded like poetry to me, so I thought I'd reciprocate.
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        Aug 9 2013: Hmm .. nice thoughts!

        You are so right about the loop of the computer screen.
        Hopping from loop to loop is possible, but any loop taken more than once is a piece of experience gone from life.
        Here's what we miss:
        Things never actually loop in nature, there are generalities that rarely change .. like the need to breathe, but every breath is actually different. we are creatures of change. We are good at perceiving change and adapting to it. But we exist within a range of tolerance .. too much change kills us. Not enough change also kills us.
        We cement the moment in our machines - they cannot evolve gracefully - only by revolution.
        And that moment, once cemented, passes from the present moment and becomes a past moment repeated endlessly ..
        This seems to be a function of the time-span across which we lay our plans. The further invested into the future, the more captured by the past.
        Sure, we need to plan .. but I think we over-do it.
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          Aug 9 2013: yep nature's great. moderation in planning. moderation in use of technology too would be good. That's why I like the hyperloop. I;m hoping It takes people away from the screen and into the real world.

          reality 2.0 the expanded version. I'm tired of virtuality.
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        Aug 10 2013: In the context of the world as-it-is, Elon Musk delivers a massive amount of value.
        But I don't think the hyperloop will do more than increase industrial efficiency a bit.
        We see in all modes of mass transport the discomfort of having to sit in a crowd of strangers .. and the discomfort gets offset by reading, txt-ing or captured by some other proscenium of distraction.
        I assure you, the viruses and bacteria see such places as the garden of Eden - a free ticket for invasive species of many kinds.

        You know .. I think there is a universal balance of some kind .. the more static you make things, the more change occurs, the more change you seek, the less you will find. There might be a sweet-spot in that balance .. but to find it, we must acknowledge that it's a balance, not a binary "either/or".
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          Aug 10 2013: I agree :) balance is best. But not in this! I'm really rooting for change in this case! Noooo! don't enforce that on me now!

          I don't think that the hyperloop is gonna have a lot of people thrown in together. I think It'll be like car size capsules, of course, the station will have people, but no need to wait there since it's supposed to be nonscheduled. We'll find out Monday! 2 more days...... the suspense is killing me!
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        Aug 11 2013: Yeah, we have to keep open for what's next.

        Like I say, Elon Musk delivers great value, and I look to see what's happening in spacex, tesla and his other ventures at least once q week. He's been coy about the hyperloop thing and says he's sensitive about the timing of what he says about it. From what he has said, he's not going to do it, but he's trying to get others to spark-up about it. It will be based on first-principles like everything else he does, so it will be viable no matter what.
        It will be something that everyone wants . Musk is very good at that, and everything he does is something that we want .. he deviates from the classical commercial mind which only ever delivers what we expect .. then spend zillions on making us want what we expect. Musk does not do that - he responds to what we truly want, and this is why he is so powerful .. out of nowhere.
        I really aught to start writing to him. I write to politicians and academics all over the world . and a good number of them reply. So .. OK .. I have a few ideas he might find useful .. specially in the electric car field. And if he's the only guy on Mars when all of us are frying on Earth . that does not seem too bad given that he's getting us a few more years through his personal contributions.
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          Aug 11 2013: He's spent a lot of time building up suspense. He needed time to get the key patents, he may be looking at crowd funding, or his own version of corporate crowd funding, who knows. If he puts it up so I can buy stocks in it, I would buy as many as I could afford (I reserve the right to change my mind after hearing the full proposal)

          I hope that rather than starting it out in LA, it gets implemented in Africa first because that could be just the type of large scale economic activity needed to bring them up to the rest of the world. (and I wanna go there, so two birds one stone)
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        Aug 11 2013: LOL!

        I just wrote to Tesla about the plight of the small petrol-station operator .. and how to get them enlisted as champions for the electric car. Elon's gotta do that if he wants to avoid making enemies of them - and they would make powerful ambassadors for good or bad. There is at least one petrol station guy in every small town in the world .. that is a significant part of our economy. And if they could be weaned from their dependence on oil companies, it would devastate the climate denial movement in a single stroke - from grass-roots up. That would give Elon even more years to get his Mars project done.

        Africa? Yes, that would be a great win, but it's unlikely. It might be implemented as transport support for the imperial forces that have bought the land from under the feet of Africans - handy to transport the commodities to ports for shipment out of Africa - along with the money made from it.
        No .. any such implementation would be bombed within a week by insurgents - the real Africans. Better to just give their land back to them.
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          Aug 11 2013: I'm all for giving the land back,

          The real Africans also see the value in trade, and I think they'll jump at this. The cheapest and fastest mass transport available.

          Since it's open sourced, I can totally see them making it themselves.
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        Aug 12 2013: Trade, as we know it, is the device by which the value of the world is concentrated into the hands of the few.
        If you are one of the few, then you have my pity .. the 1% are so afraid to live that they amass money to prevent themselves from actually being alive.
        Those who are part of the few, are responsible for the injustice of Africa.
        Elon Musk knows how much blood is on his hands .. but he risks it all and gets real life in return.
        Ask yourself - why are you not as alive as Elon Musk? Why is Elon worth observing - and you are not?

        From here, you look to be worth observing. I would like you to claim that.
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          Aug 12 2013: Hi Mitch,

          This is exactly what I mean about humans being their own predators. well, the economic system and other types of human cruelty

          I agree that the current system is concentrating the wealth of the multitude in the hands of the few, and I wish I knew how to fix it. cooperatives? I've seen some suggestions, but really just wouldn't know. I have a few ideas on how i might do it if i was dictator of the world lol, but even those ideas I don't have confidence in because I know nothing about economics.

          Definitely not one of the few, and never plan to be.

          If I knew how to put together companies as elon musk seems to be able to, I would warn my investors not to expect profits. I would hire lots of people to build a hyperloop around the world, then use the profits from it to hire more people to build hyperdense cities, then sell the apartments and use the profit to hire more people to replant the spaces between cities. then I would use whatever is left and the continuing sales from the hyperloop to fund universal healthcare and food stamps worldwide, and education ... (and now you know my secret plan to take over the world Pinky!)

          I am as alive as elon musk, but I don't wish to be as observed as he is. I value my privacy and anonymity and freedom.

          and thank you :) so do you.

          BTW... today's the day! the grand unveil of the alpha plan! c'mon soundwave levitation!
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        Aug 12 2013: Many thanks to you Manishka.

        I too look forward to Elon's announcement and will certainly ride on the hyperloop if it is implemented here.
        Things are as they are. There are changes I would like to see. Between now, and whatever comes, we will live life with each precious moment. Musk is a role model worth having, from many different angles. We each will have our own light - some seen clearly, some less so.
        I wish you well - and great brightness.
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          Aug 13 2013: Thank you Mitch, I wish you well too, and don't you say good bye to me! I know where to find you Mr. 50+ TED points!

          I think your idea of enlisting the small town gas station guy is a very good one, How do you propose to enlist them? by letting them have charging stations?

          What are the changes you'd like to see? and what especially do you see as the economic fix?

          I'm reading the alpha plan for the hyperloop right now. I was at work when it was released, and the firewall wouldn't let me at it. First, it's elevated, so that does mean vulnerability, but if he covered it with solar panels, then he's got a new utility company pumping clean energy into the grid.
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        Aug 13 2013: LOL!

        I gotta invent a new word = "TEDburn"!

        It's from over-exposure to unbelievably fantastic people on TED!

        Well, here we go, I've only just started polling the announcements on YOUtube .. and it's pretty much what the pundits were predicting. The difference being that Musk has whipped up interest into an almost religious fervour . that's the magic of the guy .. and not only that, he's got the funding methods and means already sorted out as a mature business-case. In this world - no money, no nothing. So it's serious.

        It's funny you know, I once did a project for a corporation that failed .. but it didn't fail .. even though the system we implemented was a dog, the process of all the analysis and implementation made the company so aware of the issues, that by the time we turned the systems on, the company had already got the benefit .. cost 6 million, and got above estimated returns .. and we could have implemented a cardboard box with the project name written on with a crayon.. I love that stuff!
        Elon knows this as an artform .. makes me larf to recognise it.

        OH BTW! - the service station thing is all about the batteries .. these lithium ion batteries break down real quick, and half the cost of the car is the battery .. people will get miffed if they have to keep paying for that every 2 years, so the solution is battery-exchange at service stations - you get your battery replaced, fully charged for the same cost as a tank of petrol - and it's like getting a new battery every time. It defrays the actual cost over a reasonable timespan, protects the customer from sudden expenses and keeps the serivice-station paradigm totally intact - these stations serve more than just petrol, they are an essential service to long-trip management, drinks, snacks and resting-point to overcome driver-fatigue. Plus other service industries aggregate around them - the fast-food outlets and other related businesses. The only impediment is battery standardisation .. that's do-able
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          Aug 13 2013: TEDburn! good word!

          lol, hype can do wonders.

          just read through the plan. He already planned on putting solar panels all the way through. no soundwave levitation. station cost and design not addressed. Lost me on the electronics. very low pressure vs the high pressure air flow I had expected, capsules more elaborate than I expected, additional extensions discussed.

          specifically mentions that distances more that 1500 miles won't be worth it if there's supersonic flight alternatives,,,, which there's not presently....making peace with the airlines combined with a challenge to step it up..

          Requires more reading and research for further comment. Hmmm...
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          Aug 16 2013: Hey Mitch,

          Did you read about this? looks like you might get your wish after all

          http://cleantechnica.com/2013/06/22/more-tesla-battery-swap-videos-including-qa-with-elon-musk/
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        Sep 5 2013: Hi Manishka,

        Here's the source pdf for Elon's hyperloop proposal:
        http://www.spacex.com/sites/spacex/files/hyperloop_alpha-20130812.pdf

        It's a proposal document. The initial costings and timetable could easily be doubled - the devil is always in the detail, and the detail is not known until you get to the proof-of-concept stage. Sometimes an unforseen detail will cause a re-doubling of the budget and development timetable.
        The rule-of-thumb is the 80/20 law - 20% of time/cost is spent on 80% of the project, 80% of time/cost is spent on 20% of the project. It is the costly 20% that contains all the devils - and can cost a lot more than 80%.

        It will be interesting to see which consultancy/engineering consortium finds it a worthwhile risk.
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          Sep 5 2013: Hi Mitch,
          Thanks for the link :) I've looked through it carefully, and believe the track itself can be made for much less if the location is NOT in the US. India or Africa for example.

          No engineering details were given for example anything to do with the station or with having the capsules change lanes in order to stop at a station on the way.

          Anyway, let's see. Thanks for your participation! I must say, I had an enjoyable conversation with you!
  • 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.
  • Aug 7 2013: To get back to the question posed: how will this change the world? I am an optimist by nature, but know that the small minds that make policy in the world and control the police/laws will paint this to be the new choice for traveling terrorists, illegal aliens, smugglers, and every other undesirable, thus dooming it to the dustbin of dreams.

    They will do this simply because the impact to their isolation - their precious ignorance- the tool they use to insulate themselves and their constituents from the consequences of their decisions and actions, will be in peril. Since Government can only exist as far as it can perpetuate lies, and the Hyperloop would surely bring truth and freedom to the globe, the Hyperloop will never be allowed to operate.
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      Aug 7 2013: Hi Shannon,

      I hope it doesn't end up like that. I'm especially thrilled about the person who is proposing it because he seems to be able to negotiate the politics of the status quo. This is the same guy that has gotten NASA to contract him for what some might consider their main job. The same guy that bucked the automotive status quo and made electric cars mainstream. Solar power just needed someone to negotiate the financing. i can see him making faster cheaper mass transit.

      One single example is all it takes. Right now we have so many skeptics who say it can't be done, even if it can, it may be dangerous, Even if not, it would involve too much red tape, whatever. With one single example between LA and San Francisco, Every person in each of the two cities, and every tourist to either city who then has to buy a flight ticket somewhere else is going to calculate the distance they're going, the cost, the hassle of being on time, the time wasted in flight and also waiting for the flight.

      I'm still optimistic. I hope you're proven wrong, and from your statement, I'm sure you do too.

      Is there somewhere special you'd like to go on a more regular basis?
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      Aug 11 2013: Elon isn't patenting it, so it would be possible to get implemented in some parts of the world.

      This also then opens up the possibility to crowdfund.
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    Aug 6 2013: You think the Hyperloop will be revolutionary? What about matter transporters?
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      Aug 6 2013: that would be amazing!

      "Scottie, two to beam to the top of Everest"

      Why? are they working on one now? I really think that the hyperloop could do amazing things for us now! All the world's governments need is a single working example to show safety, speed and cost.

      If you had a working example at $6 Billion, would you even consider a $60 billion maglev?
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        Aug 6 2013: From a physics standpoint I think both are equally likely to succeed.
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          Aug 6 2013: really? Do you mean that There's work being done on the matter transporter, or do you mean they are not and that the hyperloop is just as far from becoming reality?

          Please do keep in mind that there is another conversation discussing the posibility of it.
          http://www.ted.com/conversations/19557/elon_musk_s_proposed_hyperloop.html

          I had started this conversation to discuss how it could be used. For this purpose it wouldn't even have to be the hyperloop, it could be anything that is supersafe, superfast, and cheap.

          For reference, I live in India, but my son is in the US. For me to go visit him, the minimum it would cost currently (Mumbai to Chicago) is $1500 and 24 hours. Well, I can afford that once a year. What if there was some technology that would let me go once a month? or once every 3 months? Even better, I'd like to meet my son in china because he's interested in martial arts, Tanzania once to go see my cousin, my friend in Sweden for new year, and Australia just for fun?

          I'd like to be able to schedule weekend trips out of the country and not waste the whole time at the airport or in flight.

          If the prices were brought down, I can see the doctors without borders program getting a whole lot more volunteers because you would no longer have to dedicate your whole career to it, just a week or two a year.

          habitat for humanity volunteering coupled with sightseeing!
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        Aug 6 2013: The matter transporter is physically more difficult but they have started looking into it. The Hyperloop is less technically challenging but only offers a slight improvement over existing technology.
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          Aug 7 2013: definitions of slight improvement differ between the two of us:)

          When I was in the US, and even now, I hesitate to give money to charities. Per donated dollar, I hear the really great charities manage to get 20 cents to the beneficiaries. I'm sure other people have the same reasoning.

          I see western tourists interacting with locals, leaving behind old cell phones, buying pens for the kids, tutoring kids for an hour, buying full parcelled meals from the local restaurants for 50 cents each and handing them out to poor people. All the while, they pay for their own stay, buy souvenirs and participate in the economy.

          Knowing what I know now, I am absolutely sure that just a little more globalisation will improve the world a hundred fold.
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    Sep 4 2013: Thank you all for participating! I certainly agree with most of you that perhaps I overstated the impact of a better people-moving system. I still do think it's very important, but not as a rival to the internet. I'd call it the next step. Exchanging ideas is important, and interacting with each other is too. I find that we do that on the internet, but we still stick to our cliques in the idea way. We don't especially have to mind our manners with the protection of distance and anonymity. It is wonderful to interact purely on a mental level.

    I think this has led to an increase in knowledge and awareness in general. The next step? implement our new found commonalities with other humans. refine the blind rude printed slugfests with personal, (therefore riskier, therefore less extreme) interaction. A physical immersion into the world we've come to know intellectually. Complete the experience.

    The age of ideas evolved to the age of behavior. That is my hope anyway.

    Perhaps through the hyperloop. Elon has opened the plans up for the world to improve upon. Perhaps through what it evolves into, perhaps something better than that. Is it close? Will bureaucracy delay it? We shall see!
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    Aug 16 2013: OK, I;ve read through the hyperloop proposal . It's possible to make it for less outside the US.

    He recommends using it only for distances less than 1500 km as he says for trips longer than that, supersonic flights will be better... EXCEPT there aren't any supersonic flights available! He's working on it, but it's bound to be more expensive. I'd so love to see the hyperloop made less expensive and more extensive ... like worldwide extensive to make world travel available to the masses

    Connect the north america and asia via the bering strait, Australia and asia connected via indonesia,
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    Aug 10 2013: Humans exist in a duality. We have our physical reality and our mindscape. Even within our minds, we have the portion dedicated to regulating, helping, improving the physical reality; the portion that is aware of reality but independent of it, our conscious imagination; the machine aided virtuality; subconscious dreamscape and halucinations.

    We could consider them symbiotic entities,

    Virtuality cannot function without physical participation in some way: building, transporting, programming, maintaining and operating it.

    Our physical reality can be aided by the virtuality, via shopping for things, tickets, calculations, services, knowledge.

    Our conscious imaginations created the virtuality, and is aided by it.

    Our subconscious integrates all of them.

    There is however one more permutation to be considered: Our physical reality and conscious imagination. You can virtually see the world in a limited way. seeing pictures and tweets about something is not the same as being there. Context comes from intellectual knowledge as well as input from all the senses.

    An example is language. you can know that others exist, see the text, hear a recording of it, even hear someone speak it, but going to the country and being surrounded by the vastness of it immerses you in the reality of it in an incomparable way.

    Love: we can hear about it, see pictures of it, pretend it, act it in plays, study it, wish for it, scorn it, profess it, but none of those really compares to experiencing it.

    Rock climbing: hear about it, see documentaries of it, study it, practice on a wall, learn the history of it, even watch it in real life, but actually doing it is irreplaceable.

    I'd like to experience the places I've only heard or read about. The kremlin, Iceland, Japan, the great barrier reef, the amazon, ride a llama in the Peruvian Andes, climb a glacier face before they all melt, Africa, Angkor Wat.