When I was doing the math, I almost didn’t believe it. There are people out there studying how to make you travel faster than a bullet. Better said, make you be the bullet, and fire you.
Do you know how fast a bullet can go? Well it goes from some 900 km/h (600 mph) of the James Bond pistol to a ridiculous 4000 km/h (2500 mph) of modern rifle. That is a lot. But these guys say you’re going to reach the unimaginable speed of 6500 km/h (4000 mph). It is twice the speed of a supersonic F-35 stealth fighter. So how I am going to pretend that some new technology would really break this record? Well, simply launching you into the vacuum.
The worst enemy of every run record is the common air. You run through it, but the air compete against you. So the faster you want to go, and the more resistance the air will do to stop you. The only place where you won’t ever find air is in a summer crowded hot day, but that is another story. So here I present you the ET3, which concept is to create a very long tube and take the air out of it, creating vacuum. Then, simply firing you like a human rocket in a fancy cylinder capsule. I like the idea.
There are of course a lot of unresolved question about the ET3 that need to be addressed with creativity. First, convince the project authors to hire a good communication manager and a decent graphic designer. They really need to understand that if they want to construct the hugest transportation project in the history of humanity they can’t present it in a Youtube video made from crappy PowerPoint slides and a flash site. Please.
Once solved this, we are ready to take into consideration the possibility of travelling from NY to LA in 40 minutes. Wouldn’t it be amazing? So we are possibly in front of a real revolution. But like any other big step in transportation, we need to cover the three big S, better known as the fundamental aspects of safety, sustainability and snugness (I’m sorry I couldn’t find a better word starting with S to say comfort).
It may be cool to travel at five times the speed of sound, but you don’t want to end crashed into a wall. Personally, I will dislike the mega tube to break, to suffer a terrorist attack, or most likely to come down from an earthquake, flooding, hurricane or a mega robotic monster. Because constructing a mega tube is quite hard, but making it suitable for people transportation is another thing. I believe that a couple of years of bullets staffed only with physical goods need to be run before let the first human traveler use it.
The claim of the ET3 project is to make nationwide and over-continent transport faster than ever. Good. There is demand for it? Sure. The big question is always the same: how much is a person willing to spend for it? Less than a plane flight, I would say.
So it will be sustainable to construct thousands of kilometers of infrastructure (with all the necessary safety standards) to be paid the same or even less than a plane flight? It seems that this system will use very few energy to make you flight in a tube, and that much of this energy could be regenerated when the capsule slow down reaching the destination.
Other open point. What about choosing destinations? It will be great to reach virtually every major city in the world, as commercial flights do nowadays. But it won’t be that easy considering that you’re travelling in a vacuum pipe. Any possibility for crossing tubes?
Snugness (comfort and cozy)
Personally, the most important part. What’s the thing that you like the less of commercial flights? I will read your mind: the fact that they are basically flying buses. So you expect this innovative bullet car to be better than that. But these people are actually thinking of make you travel in a coffin, with the same pleasure than sitting on a dentist chair. I would go for the maximum pleasure approach. A very comfortable sofa, a table for using your laptop for working, wireless connectivity, a panoramic screen replicating the external environment and please, please, please, a little simply toilette.
Get ready, some day you will be able to live in Miami and go everyday to work at your company HQ in Boston. In 20 minutes. Who needs the teleportation anymore?
Photo by Davidneff.