in the (hyper) loop

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Entrepreneur Elon Musk is about to publish an “alpha design” for Hyperloop, an entirely new form of public transportation that is faster than the bullet train and potentially self-powering. Details are slim, but it’s clear that Musk (as always) has lofty ambitions. In the past he has described it as a “cross between a Concorde, a railgun and an air hockey table,” although that says little of the underlying technology. In an interview last year, Musk described Hyperloop as the fifth major tent pole for modern transportation, placing it on a pedestal beside planes, trains, boats and automobiles. “This system I have in mind, how would you like something that can never crash, is immune to weather, it goes three or four times faster than the bullet train… it goes an average speed of twice what an aircraft would do,” he said. “You would go from downtown LA to downtown San Francisco in under 30 minutes.” He later added that it was possible for Hyperloop to be self-powered using solar energy; it would therefore generate more power than it consumed in day-to-day use. Hyperloop sounds like a too-good-to-be-true scenario. But Musk’s track record with Tesla and SpaceX shows him perfectly capable of delivering on ideas which many people think are unfeasible. Musk added on Twitter that he would be looking for “critical feedback” and “improvements” for the initial design once it’s released to the world next month. Hyperloop might still shrouded in mystery, but it won’t be much longer before we know a lot more about Musk’s intentions. Planes, trains, automobiles: take notice.

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