August 14, 2013

Elon Musk's Hyperloop: Why LA to SF?

Inventor Elon Musk has proposed building a compressed air Hyperloop that would get commuters from Los Angeles to San Francisco in 30 minutes for $20. Sounds good to me!

Except that -- assuming his breakthrough technology works as promised, which is a rather big assumption -- why in the world would you build it first between L.A. and S.F.? The Transverse Ranges between the San Fernando Valley and Bakersfield are just a maze of rugged country. You would not want to be shot through a twisting tube at 600 mph.

Moreover, it takes forever to get anything big built in California, for environmental, seismic, political, and real estate reasons.

Instead, it would make more sense to link two cities on flat ground with light environmental regulation. Dallas and Houston come first to mind: the fourth and fifth biggest metropolitan areas, each with over six million residents, both separated by lots of nondescript land.

Or, Miami and Orlando might make sense.

Illinois is particularly flat, so Chicago would connect well to St. Louis or Minneapolis.

The ultimate goal might be a network tying together the flattest parts of the country, from Minneapolis to the Gulf Coast. This might actually give Republicans in Congress a policy they could back to reward their natural supporters -- people who live in flat inland Red State places.

87 comments:

Proddie Mick said...

Another good "endgame" option for the Hyperloop would be a loop from DC (maybe even down to Atlanta?) up through Boston, along the I-95 corridor. I can't imagine the lengths we would have to go to to procure land for the 'loop, but a 20-minute commute from Washington to NYC would be great.

Anonymous said...

Recently all the far-out construction projects have been done in Arabia. Burj Khalifa in Dubai is the tallest building in the world. The Kingdom Tower in Saudi Arabia will be even taller - over 1 km.

Oil money plus no regulations (if the emir decreed it, it will be done) plus cheap South Asian labor. All the architects and engineers are Western of course. It's a perfect combnation.

Mecca - Riadh could actually work. Why did Musk choose California for his pipe dream instead? It's still trendy. Someone involved with electric cars would think horrible things about Texans and Saudis, for class/cultural reasons even more than for environmental ones.

David Davenport said...

Mr. Musk has lost it with his giant pneumatic or magnetic/pneumatic tube proposal. It is not feasible technically.

I admire Musk for SpaceX, however.
I wish Steve would drive by SpaceX galactic HQ in Hawthorne and snap a photo of the building to accompany a story on SpaceX.

... Maybe also compare SpaceX's building and grounds to historic aerospace biz locations in Los Angeles. I think SpaceX HQ occupies a former Northrop property.

The SpaceX web site says:SPACEX HEADQUARTERS
1 Rocket Rd
Hawthorne, CA 90250.

I can't recall that street,but it's probably renamed. Here's the Google sat. view:

1 Rocket Rd

Anonymous said...

The ultimate goal might be a network tying together the flattest parts of the country, from Minneapolis to the Gulf Coast.

What about tornadoes, flooding?

Anonymous said...

From what I understand, he would like to build it along the I-5, even along the median if possible.

Anonymous said...

Part of the reason he chose California is because the proposed high speed rail is supposed to much more expensive, much slower, and much less energy efficient.

Anonymous said...

Mr. Musk has lost it with his giant pneumatic or magnetic/pneumatic tube proposal. It is not feasible technically.

Why is it not feasible technically? The basic idea has been around for decades and no serious technical objections have ever been made.

Anonymous said...

Mr. Musk has lost it with his giant pneumatic or magnetic/pneumatic tube proposal. It is not feasible technically.

Well he's thinking about building a subscale demonstration system to demonstrate that it is possible. And it's already been believed by experts for decades that it's possible.

Steve Sailer said...

"build it along the I-5"

Yes, but the 60 miles or so of mountain driving on I-5 between the north end of the San Fernando Valley and the Grapevine abruptly dropping down to the Central Valley is a Mr. Toad's Wild Rise of an interstate. The lateral forces on the human body at an order of magnitude faster would require some pretty futuristic restraint and padding to keep from giving passengers severe neck problems.

Anonymous said...

The proposal is to have it run slower through the Grapevine and from the Central Valley to Hayward, at about 300 mph. The track needs to take very gentle bends at any sort of speed to keep the g-forces reasonable.

It's not really a compressed air system. The tube it runs in is evacuated of most air, which makes it easier to run at speed.

The proposal is really at the engineers doing some spit-balling it level of detail. I think it's excessively optimistic on costs--for example the capsules are estimated at $1.35M each. The capsules are effectively an aircraft development project, so I don't think they're going to be cheap.

I also wonder what happens if the tube is depressurized and has to restart. The capsules carry only a small amount of power with them and it could potentially take hours to clear the capsules out of the tube and depressurize it again.

Anonymous said...

Here's a map with proposed branches to Vegas, Sacramento, San Diego, and what looks like Fresno:

http://www.businessinsider.com/hyperloop-route-map-2013-8

It might make sense to build one from LA to Vegas first, since that's mostly desert, right?

Anonymous said...

Yes, but the 60 miles or so of mountain driving on I-5 between the north end of the San Fernando Valley and the Grapevine abruptly dropping down to the Central Valley is a Mr. Toad's Wild Rise of an interstate. The lateral forces on the human body at an order of magnitude faster would require some pretty futuristic restraint and padding to keep from giving passengers severe neck problems.

I don't know California roads, but I think that's supposed to be the slowest part of the trip according to the proposal:

http://www.businessinsider.com/hyperloop-route-map-2013-8

"300 mph (480 kph) for the Los Angeles Grapevine South section at 0.5g, Total time of 167 seconds"

Anonymous said...

It's being proposed as an alternative to the CA high speed rail project, and almost anything is cheaper than that.

There's a good deal of nonsense in the proposal, such as solar power for the tube. That's clearly boob-bait for the enviro-weenies.

Steve Sailer said...

The current California High Speed Train boondoggle's price tag keeps soaring in part because of all the difficulties of building in modern California, difficulties that a Hyperloop would not necessarily be immune to.

Anonymous said...

There's a good deal of nonsense in the proposal, such as solar power for the tube. That's clearly boob-bait for the enviro-weenies.

It's not nonsense at all. That's a ton of surface area just sitting there doing nothing. Why not stick solar panels on it? It would produce more energy than the system uses.

Dave Pinsen said...

As The Onion put it, “Wow. So you could live in L.A., work in San Fran, and disintegrate somewhere outside Bakersfield.” http://t.co/ztckLIecyZ

Steve Sailer said...

"It might make sense to build one from LA to Vegas first, since that's mostly desert, right?"

There's a lot of up and down with at least two 4,000 foot elevation gains on I-15, but some of the up and down is reasonably straight. The ease of driving I-15 is one reason the port of LA/Long Beach has become so dominant. The drive east from San Francisco Bay, in contrast, has to cross the jagged Sierras.

Lex Corvus said...

My guess is the Musk's thoughts ran to LA-to-SF partially because he frequently travels that route himself.

sunbeam said...

You know you have a relatively straight run with virtually no elevation changes included, guaranteed.

I speak of course of following the coast on the beach.

It would take the Stalin and his Siberian Gulags and execution squads to push that one through though.

Actually though I think I would make it a couple 100 feet offshore. It's a sealed tube from what I gather. Salt water is a MoFo though.

Anonymous said...

I like Elon Musk because he seems to be the last guy in California with an optimistic, can-do attitude who wants to actually build things more substantial than a new smart phone app. As with Blomkamp, South Africa's loss has been California's gain.

Anonymous said...

This might actually give Republicans in Congress a policy they could back to reward their natural supporters -- people who live in flat inland Red State places.

True, but these people tend to be less enthusiastic about these things. They prefer trucks and road trips and not visiting big cities very often.

It's liberals living in urban corridors that are into it.

Anonymous said...

Where do people drive Teslas?

Anonymous said...

Elon Musk is doing important world-changing things, but he wouldn't have been able to do so without first making a lot of money in a more easily accessible and lucrative domain: online payments (paypal).

Side note: it's great to see so many conservatives praising Elon. Elon Musk is well known pragmatic progressive (as are most in Silicon Valley). http://blogs.wsj.com/corporate-intelligence/2012/11/13/teslas-elon-musk-joins-the-obama-victory-lap/ Scientists, innovators are overwhelmingly progressive.

Auntie Analogue said...


Elon Musk's Colossal Human Cocaine Straw?

Anonymous said...

The proposal claims that the right of way and cost issues will be better for the hyperloop; since it's elevated there aren't as many issues with road crossings, many farms could continue to operate on the land it crosses, and so on.

Solar power is much higher cost than utility power, at least absent artificial California regulations.

David Davenport said...

Somebody please me why the proposed Hyperloop or more conventional high speed trains would be superior to further improved and more fuel efficient airliners.

One additional point in favor of air travel: most airports in desirable locations have already been built. Air travel now and in the future has and will have very little further terrestrial environmental impact.

One can't say the same the same for high speed trains or Hyperloops. The environmental impact of a new railroad line or HyperTube near the coast between LA and SF would be extremely noxious.

theo the kraut said...

Musk has posted a 57 pages paper on the Hyperloop at:
spacex.com

JeremiahJohnbalaya said...

Here's another local CA boondoggle:

A modernization of Orange County, Calif.'s tax collection system that was supposed to take three years and cost less than $8 million will cost twice that amount and take twice as long.
Instead of pursuing completion, Orange County decided to give up. It abandoned the project, declared the software "fatally flawed," and then filed a lawsuit in April against the contractor.
The two sides, the county and the contractor, Tata Consultancy Services and its U.S.-based subsidiary, are now attempting reach a mediated agreement, according to the most recent federal court filing late last month.
In 2007, Orange County hired Tata America International Corp., a subsidiary of the largest offshore outsourcing firm in the world -- Mumbai, India-based TCS -- to develop custom software to handle most of the county's tax functions. The county collects some $4.5 billion in taxes a year.

Anonymous said...

Boston-NY-Washington would be the way to go. The Hyperloop can't be any more expensive that the Amtrak subsidies.

Then it can be extended to Atlanta, creating William Gibson's Boston/Atlanta Metropolitan Axis (BAMA) Sprawl dystopia.

Karen said...

American Airlines' busiest route is between DFW and Austin. A triangle connecting Dallas, Houston, and San Antonio with a stop in Austin would be a wonderful idea. Sadly, Texas is governed by corporate stooges for the airlines and oil companies.

Maxwell Power said...

In fact the San Andreas fault runs from S.F. through Monterey down to the vicinity of Palmdale. That's the geographical precondition for two industrialized ports turned overclass branch offices. From what I know about Elon Musk he has always targeted the luxury segment, so it has nothing to do with practicality. He's Harry Selfridge, not Sam Walton

Maguro said...

I think the ultimate goal for Musk is to collect a shitload of government subsidies, have a big IPO for his hyperloop company and cash out. Whether the thing actually gets built or not is kind of beside the point.

jody said...

it's not like there are earthquakes in california or anything. this project is perfectly safe in his local geological area.

"Why is it not feasible technically? The basic idea has been around for decades"

a self answering question then. idea around for decades, never built in germany. idea around for decades, never built in japan. idea around for decades, never built in UK. idea around for decades, never built in china. france, spain, india all took a pass on it too.

all these nations with huge, extensive passenger rail systems, but they never built hyperloop. wonder why. they must all simply prefer spending 10 times as much money for half the speed.

"Part of the reason he chose California is because the proposed high speed rail is supposed to much more expensive, much slower, and much less energy efficient."

the reason he chose california is because he can con the idiot liberals there into paying for it. these are the absolute morons who seriously entertain the idea of high speed passenger rail across the state at a cost of 100 billion.

guys, hyperloop is bullshit, and will never be built. don't spend anymore time thinking about this. a decade from now, dean kamen and his new, mysterious, major project that flopped and turned out to be the segway, will seem successful compared to this clunker. elon is a visionary but this is one vision that won't happen.

we'll be getting hyperloop right around the time we get commercial thorium fission reactors - IE never. this is like the 'Solar panels are gonna become so cheap we'll power our civilization off them!' hype from 2 years ago. total bullshit. it would make more sense to convert some of our oil infrastructure to natural gas and power our vehicles with that.

Anonymous said...

Somebody please me why the proposed Hyperloop or more conventional high speed trains would be superior to further improved and more fuel efficient airliners.

One additional point in favor of air travel: most airports in desirable locations have already been built. Air travel now and in the future has and will have very little further terrestrial environmental impact.


That's actually part of the problem. A lot of airports are quite a bit removed from city centers. The hyperloop is supposed to take you directly from LA to SF.

Also, LA and SF are close enough by plane that a lot of the flight is consumed by ascending and descending, which can't be sped up as easily as just going straight in the air at a certain altitude.

Anonymous said...

One can't say the same the same for high speed trains or Hyperloops. The environmental impact of a new railroad line or HyperTube near the coast between LA and SF would be extremely noxious.

Have you done the math for this? What if the hyperloop eliminates essentially most commercial air traffic between LA and SF? Also the solar panels on the loop would produce more energy than the hyperloop uses.

Anonymous said...

@ David Davenport

Why are you against cool ideas? What's your problem? This guy knows what he's doing. You just sound like a grouchy stick in the mud.

Anonymous said...

"Well he's thinking about building a subscale demonstration system to demonstrate that it is possible."

My bank already did that. It works great.

Dave Pinsen said...

"Somebody please me why the proposed Hyperloop or more conventional high speed trains would be superior to further improved and more fuel efficient airliners."

James Fallows made a good case for air taxis (using America's little-trafficked but often conveniently located smaller airports) several years ago: Taxis in the Sky.

pwyll said...

Echoing Lex Corvus above, the reason why it makes sense to Musk to start with the SF-LA corridor is that Tesla is near SF and SpaceX is in LA. I'm sure he's travelled that route hundreds of times, and if you were an inventive billionaire frustrated with that annoying of a commute, OF COURSE you'd propose that it be built there first. Heck, travelling that route annoys me like crazy, and I'm not even a billionaire.

Anonymous said...

This might actually give Republicans in Congress a policy they could back to reward their natural supporters -- people who live in flat inland Red State places.

True, but these people tend to be less enthusiastic about these things. They prefer trucks and road trips and not visiting big cities very often.

It's liberals living in urban corridors that are into it.


And for some reason all the mainstream conservative talking heads I've heard hate hate hate train travel. It's big-government collectivism, or something. Better to have atomized citizens spewing pollution out of cars all the time.

Anonymous said...

it's not like there are earthquakes in california or anything. this project is perfectly safe in his local geological area.

The pylons would absorb the shock. The loop track would be connected to the pylons which would absorb the earthquakes, not to the ground itself. Also, this critique would apply to any kind of rail in California.

Anonymous said...

a self answering question then. idea around for decades, never built in germany. idea around for decades, never built in japan. idea around for decades, never built in UK. idea around for decades, never built in china. france, spain, india all took a pass on it too.

all these nations with huge, extensive passenger rail systems, but they never built hyperloop. wonder why. they must all simply prefer spending 10 times as much money for half the speed.


People tend to be conservative and risk averse, especially about big projects and large infrastructure stuff.

Jim Bowery said...

Since when do Republicans want to reward their supporters? They appear to be stuck on their brilliant idea to exterminate and replace their voters with Democrats.

Anonymous said...

James Fallows made a good case for air taxis (using America's little-trafficked but often conveniently located smaller airports) several years ago: Taxis in the Sky.

For the mass market? I don't know about that. The article talks about mini-routes like Boca Raton to Lakeland, some city I'd never heard of in Florida. Only wealthy people hopping between multiple homes or supervising their businesses or something would take mini-routes like that regularly. Average people stick mainly to highly trafficked routes that are going to be served by small planes.

Anonymous said...

I'm pretty sure the reason Musk wants the Bay to LA route is because he lives in SoCal but works in Silicon Valley.

As for feasibility, I'll take the word of the 21st Century's preeminent engineer-businessman on whether it can be done (physically, practically) over that of the typical isteve poster. At this point I think Musk has proven that he understands objective reality better than 99.99% of humanity, so if he says it can be done then it probably can.

Personally I don't look forward to gauche Armenian businessmen, film industry sycophants, and other déclassé Angelenos coming up to the Bay Area. Steve is welcome at all times provided that, while here, he doesn't use a definite article when referring to freeways.

vanderleun said...

jody's got it. this whole subject is seqway bullshit. Only without even that level of reality. Forget it.

Anonymous said...

I have to say as an Engineer who has worked on infrastructure projects in California that the costs of an elevated guideway stretching hundreds of miles are seriously underestimated in this proposal. Musk has clearly no idea about the costs of heavy civil construction.

The ridership and capacity are also seriously flawed. He predicts just 7 million riders compared to much higher ridership on the full build out of the HSR system. An individual vehicle is said to hold 28 people, That means a departure every 4 minutes in both directions all day every day to reach 7 million (ignoring the obvious desire of people to travel at the peak and not 3am). 4 minutes headway is entirely inadequate for collision avoidance at 600 mph.

As to pylons standing up in earthquakes by "absorbing" ground motion, that is not my experience. Elevated guideways I worked on included provisions for realignment of rails post earthquake IF they survived. See I-880 for a more typical example of what happens.

Anonymous said...

As to pylons standing up in earthquakes by "absorbing" ground motion, that is not my experience. Elevated guideways I worked on included provisions for realignment of rails post earthquake IF they survived. See I-880 for a more typical example of what happens.

Would it be possible to shave down the San Andreas fault or at least parts of it to eliminate earthquakes?

David Davenport said...

Since when do Republicans want to reward their supporters? They appear to be stuck on their brilliant idea to exterminate and replace their voters with Democrats.

Jim, please explain that remark in this discussion's context, which is Mr. Musk's Hyperloopy proposal. Why should this hyperloopy stuff appeal to Republican supporters? Please explain.

As to my tastes in transportation. Here you ago. I'm a big fan of space exploration and space travel. Mr. Musk's SpaceX firm is doing great things. I mean that sincerely.

On Earth, real drive their own, private auto-moebiles, under the driver's control. Real men shun mass transit as much as possible, both in the air and on the ground.

Real men aspire to own and fly their own airplanes.

Passenger trains are especially distasteful. Passenger trains are redolent of labor unions and of the mongrel, polyglot, overcrowded Boston-Washington corridor.

Mr. Anon said...

The cost to build such a thing would be enormous. It isn't just a tube - it's a vacuum chamber, i.e. a pressure vessel - the easiest kind of pressure vessel to build, but none-the-less. Say it's 9 ft. in diameter - that might cost $3,000 / ft. - $ 6 billion to cover the 400 miles from LA to SF. Perhaps more. And that's just for the tube - nothing else. And I don't think you could even find that much stainless steel to buy. Perhaps you could make it out of carbon steel, but then the maintenance costs would be higher. Plus you'd need large vacuum pumps every - I don't know - every 100 ft perhaps? 200 ft? Regardless, a lot of them - all consuming power, all requiring periodic maintenance. Then there is also the strain-relief you would need to build into it, to deal with the thermal expansion. That might consist of sliding seals or bellows. In any event, on a 9 ft. diameter, those would be expensive too.

And that's not even yet accounting for the cars, the rails (or a maglev system), or the support structure.

David Davenport said...

Would it be possible to shave down the San Andreas fault

Yes, we need a government program to shave down the San Andreas fault.

David Davenport said...

the non-existent glamor of SF tech "workers", a.k.a. suckers

A Google shuttle picks up workers in San Francisco to take them to the tech giant’s campus. Bidding wars for rentals near the shuttle bus stops have caused rents to soar, even double in some cases

San Francisco split by Silicon Valley's wealth

San Francisco is increasingly divided between young, wealthy tech workers and those who say they are being pushed out of a city they can no longer afford.

...

It's an exclusive perk offered by Apple, Facebook, Google and other major Silicon Valley companies: luxury coaches equipped with air conditioning, plush seats and wireless Internet access that ease the stress of navigating congested Bay Area roadways.

The private mass transit system has become the most visible symbol of the digital gold rush sweeping this city, and of the sharpening division between those who are riding the high-tech industry's good fortunes and those who are not.

"Some days I think of them as the spaceships on which our alien overlords have landed to rule over us," Rebecca Solnit, a longtime San Francisco resident, recently wrote in the London Review of Books.

Fueling the growing rift is a common belief that the vast wealth being amassed by the tech industry is not spilling over into the community.

Anonymous said...

On Earth, real drive their own, private auto-moebiles, under the driver's control. Real men shun mass transit as much as possible, both in the air and on the ground.

Ok but driving cars ceased being very manly a long time ago. Women started driving en masse a long time ago.

jody said...

"The pylons would absorb the shock. The loop track would be connected to the pylons which would absorb the earthquakes, not to the ground itself. Also, this critique would apply to any kind of rail in California."

you don't know anything about this stuff, so why are you pretending that you do? not that i'm an expert on it, because nobody in the world is. but this is pie in the sky bullshit, period. that's why it doesn't exist, that's why nobody has built one, ever, and that's why it won't get built.

GE mark I reactors were safe from earthquakes. oops. how did that work out?

yucca mountain was picked for geological stability. why not built hyperloop from LA to vegas, the same stupid, stupid project various agencies were yapping their dumb lips about years and years ago, back when i lived in vegas, and even before. it's a shorter route with more stable geology.

"People tend to be conservative and risk averse, especially about big projects and large infrastructure stuff."

i liked the numbers and math you presented in your response. here, let me do some math for you. 'People' = 100% of the all the engineers in the ENTIRE WORLD who ever worked on a mass transit system took a pass on anything like hyperloop. that's 100% of every guy in every company in every country. every single time they built something to move large numbers of people along the ground, they picked trains.

next we'll be talking about mining asteroids. do 'people' get too conservative with the math there? why don't they mine asteroids? does the ROI math not work, or are they just too conservative?

jody said...

"As for feasibility, I'll take the word of the 21st Century's preeminent engineer-businessman on whether it can be done (physically, practically) over that of the typical isteve poster."

i like elon but he's wrong on this one. his cost estimates alone are wildly wrong.

it's hard to build ONE SINGLE ADVANCED NUCLEAR REACTOR for 7 billion dollars, this guy is talking about building jetsons tubes for hundreds of miles for that price?

look at how often major oil pipelines that are hundreds of miles long break and leak. this guy is talking about sending people 600 miles an hour on them?

i went through this same dreamland versus reality cycle in 2010 with bill gates and his travelling wave reactor, when i did some basic background research for an MIT project seeking funding from gates. which, gates finally gave up on building those reactors in the US, because IT COSTS TOO MUCH. here's where he is now, 3 years later:

http://www.smartplanet.com/blog/bulletin/bill-gates-stops-chasing-nuclear-8216wave-pursues-variety-of-reactors/24927

uh oh, bill is falling for the allure of the thorium reactor. it won't get built, bill. switch gears to something else.

the whole hyperloop thing reminds me of gerald bull and the project babylon supergun, launching stuff into orbit using a cannon instead of a rocket. it looks good on paper, just a math problem easily solvable by throwing enough 0s at it in the right funding columns...saddam hussein thought so anyway.

Anonymous said...

Here is a past proposal from RAND: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vactrain

Is there any difference in interest, feasibility, etc that people would think "It'll happen THIS TIME!"?

Miguel S. said...

except for Paul Weyrich

pat said...

When I was an urban planning student I was the only one in the studio who approved of cars. Everyone else wanted to get people out of their cars and into any form of group transportation. This I think was simply a taste for collectivism.

Private individuals, in private houses who drive private cars is just intrinsically unacceptable to a lot of leftists.

Planners always underestimate the protection appeal of a modern car. There is something comforting about locking yourself inside a steel box for your trip. Compare the prospect of driving across Detroit versus taking a city bus. The cost of gas is not the crucial factor in that decision.

I used to fly into LA from San Francisco all the time. I would pop down for a meeting in the morning and fly back again late that afternoon or early evening. But if I had to stay overnight or for a week I would drive. I think that was the standard pattern in the nineties.

But business commuting may be dying out altogether with telecommuting. By the early part of the century I was on a development team based in LA and San Diego. My office was in San Francisco but I worked at home in Oakland. I talked to the team members everyday while we collaborated over the Internet.

I worked as part of this group for a year an I never went to Southern California at all.

If we had cheaper fiber connections to support high bandwidth video, why would we want to do all this expensive business commuting?

A high speed train to LA? That's so twentieth century.

Albertosaurus

David Davenport said...

Women started driving en masse a long time ago.

Few women drive cars with manual transmissions.

'Oh, our car has three pedals on the floor. What does the third pedal do?"

Steve, people in between North Dakota and Texas/Louisiana are much more interested in oil pipelines than in passenger trains.

Anonymous said...

you don't know anything about this stuff, so why are you pretending that you do? not that i'm an expert on it, because nobody in the world is. but this is pie in the sky bullshit, period. that's why it doesn't exist, that's why nobody has built one, ever, and that's why it won't get built.

Why do you pretend you know what you're talking about? You don't.

yucca mountain was picked for geological stability. why not built hyperloop from LA to vegas, the same stupid, stupid project various agencies were yapping their dumb lips about years and years ago, back when i lived in vegas, and even before. it's a shorter route with more stable geology.

That's one of the proposed branches.

i liked the numbers and math you presented in your response. here, let me do some math for you. 'People' = 100% of the all the engineers in the ENTIRE WORLD who ever worked on a mass transit system took a pass on anything like hyperloop. that's 100% of every guy in every company in every country. every single time they built something to move large numbers of people along the ground, they picked trains.

That's not math. That's rhetoric. Most engineers are mild-mannered guys who follow orders from above - largely non-engineer execs, politicians, generals.

next we'll be talking about mining asteroids. do 'people' get too conservative with the math there? why don't they mine asteroids? does the ROI math not work, or are they just too conservative?

It's not just people being conservative with math, it's that large organizations and bureaucracies are risk-averse.

Anonymous said...

it's hard to build ONE SINGLE ADVANCED NUCLEAR REACTOR for 7 billion dollars, this guy is talking about building jetsons tubes for hundreds of miles for that price?

Yes tubes are cheap to produce since they're the same piece of material just repeated. Economies of scale bring down their cost significantly.

i went through this same dreamland versus reality cycle in 2010 with bill gates and his travelling wave reactor, when i did some basic background research for an MIT project seeking funding from gates. which, gates finally gave up on building those reactors in the US, because IT COSTS TOO MUCH. here's where he is now, 3 years later:

You're bringing this up this portray yourself as someone who knows about this issue, when clearly you have no idea what you're talking about.

the whole hyperloop thing reminds me of gerald bull and the project babylon supergun, launching stuff into orbit using a cannon instead of a rocket. it looks good on paper, just a math problem easily solvable by throwing enough 0s at it in the right funding columns...saddam hussein thought so anyway.

Bull wanted to launch things into space with it, but it was proven technology as a gun itself. Saddam wanted it for its uses as a gun.

Anonymous said...

Few women drive cars with manual transmissions.

'Oh, our car has three pedals on the floor. What does the third pedal do?"


Few men drive stick these days too. Or cars without air conditioning, for that matter.

Most drivers, including women, used to drive manual decades ago.

In Europe, manual is still pretty common. There's nothing manly about driving some Peugeot or Fiat around just because it's stick.

Anonymous said...

Is there any difference in interest, feasibility, etc that people would think "It'll happen THIS TIME!"?

One major difference is that the Hyperloop is not a sealed vacuum like the older proposal. The Hyperloop cars have fans in the front that reduce air. A vacuum would be much harder to maintain and more subject to risk.

Anonymous said...

When I was an urban planning student I was the only one in the studio who approved of cars. Everyone else wanted to get people out of their cars and into any form of group transportation. This I think was simply a taste for collectivism.

Private individuals, in private houses who drive private cars is just intrinsically unacceptable to a lot of leftists.


Yes, I like driving too, but this is bit of an illusion. Driving depends on a vast "collectivist" infrastructure of roads, maintenance, car manufacturing, energy, workers, etc.

Anonymous said...

Jody is the perfect archetype of a typical conservative iSteve reader: unimaginative, fear driven, non-innovating personality type.

Anonymous said...

Is there any difference in interest, feasibility, etc

Uh, yeah, there are big differences, if you had read either proposal. 700 mph for the Musk proposal vs. 5000 mph for the Vactrain, hard vacuum vs very low pressure, maglev vs. air cushion, completely underground tunnels vs. above ground piers, subsonic speeds, and so on.

There's no really fundamentally new technology required for the Musk proposal. You can argue about whether his cost estimates are correct (I think they're wildly optimistic) and certain practical problems (restart after a pressure loss, downtime) but I think it's quite feasible from a technology standpoint.

Anonymous said...

Few women drive cars with manual transmissions.

There's nothing especially manly about driving or driving stick. Most people including women used to drive stick decades ago. Most don't today.

In Europe, stick is still fairly common. But there's nothing especially manly about tooling around in a Peugeot or Fiat just because it's a manual.

David Davenport said...

But there's nothing especially manly about tooling around in a Peugeot or Fiat just because it's a manual.

There is nothing especially manly about tooling around in a Peugeot or Fiat, regardless of what gearbox it has. :0)

OK, I'll admit and concede that "real men drive manual trannys" isn't my wittiest line of talk.

Question: If Mr, Musk had announced plans to develop a supersonic airliner instead of a claustrophobic, windowless train in a pipe, would all you Zukunft-minded young fellows enthuse about his proposal?

David Davenport said...

My guess is the Musk's thoughts ran to LA-to-SF partially because he frequently travels that route himself.

Mr. Musk probably commutes between SF and LA on a corporate aeroplane:

SpaceX Lost Angels HQ adjacent to Hawthorne general aviation runway

Mr. Anon said...

"Anonymous said...

Jody is the perfect archetype of a typical conservative iSteve reader: unimaginative, fear driven, non-innovating personality type."

And you are the perfect archetype of a typical libertarian: a vacuous ninny who thinks that markets trump physics and who thinks that whatever a rich guy like Musk says must be right. The world does not lack for the rusting hulks that are all that is left of the failed schemes of wealthy men.

Anonymous said...

Question: If Mr, Musk had announced plans to develop a supersonic airliner instead of a claustrophobic, windowless train in a pipe, would all you Zukunft-minded young fellows enthuse about his proposal?

Actually one of the other projects Musk has talked about that he'd like to develop in the future is a supersonic electric jet, and people have been enthusiastic about that too. Musk says that would be for speeding up trans-continental and inter-continental travel. The hyperloop would link shorter distances.

Silver said...

"The world does not lack for the rusting hulks that are all that is left of the failed schemes of wealthy men."

Lol, what is your point here? Not every venture is going to succeed but so what? If people waited for "absolute certainty" as guaranteed by the likes of Mr. Anon it's doubtful any project would ever get started.

I don't know why you're so consistently disagreeable. Can you honestly imagine anyone familiar with your posting history thinking you'd make a good employee? You may or you may not, but your posting history doesn't encourage the conclusion that you would.

Mr. Anon said...

"Anonymous said...

Actually one of the other projects Musk has talked about that he'd like to develop in the future is a supersonic electric jet,..."

Supersonic flight really doesn't even make much sense. The faster you go, the more of the energy that you consume goes into heating the atmosphere. What would make more sense would be to develop jets that are optimized for flying slower than conventional jets - say about 300 mph; they would be far more fuel efficient. An electric super-sonic jet is just ridiculous - the power density of electrical energy storage and generation is too low for flight (perhaps ever) and certainly too low for supersonic flight.

The kind of off-hand "wouldn't it be cool....." blathering that one hears at TEDx talks is not a substitute for actual engineering.

Anonymous said...

Supersonic flight really doesn't even make much sense. The faster you go, the more of the energy that you consume goes into heating the atmosphere. What would make more sense would be to develop jets that are optimized for flying slower than conventional jets - say about 300 mph; they would be far more fuel efficient. An electric super-sonic jet is just ridiculous - the power density of electrical energy storage and generation is too low for flight (perhaps ever) and certainly too low for supersonic flight.

Actually it makes a lot of sense. You can go higher in the atmosphere with an electric jet, and the higher you go in the atmosphere, there’s less drag, so the faster and more efficient it is.

The kind of off-hand "wouldn't it be cool....." blathering that one hears at TEDx talks is not a substitute for actual engineering.

Except Musk is an actual engineer and industrialist, unlike you.

Mr. Anon said...

"Silver said...

I don't know why you're so consistently disagreeable. Can you honestly imagine anyone familiar with your posting history thinking you'd make a good employee? You may or you may not, but your posting history doesn't encourage the conclusion that you would."

Actually, I'm a hard-working and conscientious employee. Anyway, who wants an employee who falls for every bullshit artist who walks though the door. Physics is real, it brooks no dissent, and it doesn't give a shit what your hopes and dreams are. Just because you thought Larry Niven stories were cool when you were a kid doesn't mean they will come true.

Mr. Anon said...

"Anonymous said...

Actually it makes a lot of sense. You can go higher in the atmosphere with an electric jet, and the higher you go in the atmosphere, there’s less drag, so the faster and more efficient it is."

No, it doesn't. And you have no idea of which you speak. The higher you go, the more tenuous the atmostphere, and the faster you have to go to get a given amount of lift. So you have to go fast, which incurs drag. Dynamic pressure goes as rho * v^2, so the drag increases faster with increasing velocity than it decreases with decreasing density. Also, do you have any idea what the power density of electrical energy storage and generation is currently? It's low, and it would not support flight. Maybe someday it will. Maybe someday I'll piss Bourbon.

"Except Musk is an actual engineer and industrialist, unlike you."

Actually, I do work as an engineer. Musk is not a working engineer. He hires other people to do that for him. Musk is a smart guy, and I admire what he's done with Space-X. But that doesn't mean he is always right. He isn't.

Mr. Anon said...

"Silver said...

Lol, what is your point here?"

By the way, I have always thought that the use of "LOL" makes one sound juvenile and stupid.

Anonymous said...

No, it doesn't. And you have no idea of which you speak. The higher you go, the more tenuous the atmostphere, and the faster you have to go to get a given amount of lift. So you have to go fast, which incurs drag. Dynamic pressure goes as rho * v^2, so the drag increases faster with increasing velocity than it decreases with decreasing density. Also, do you have any idea what the power density of electrical energy storage and generation is currently? It's low, and it would not support flight. Maybe someday it will. Maybe someday I'll piss Bourbon.

Musk is aware of this and estimates that battery energy density would need to at least double in order to power an electric jet plane.

Actually, I do work as an engineer. Musk is not a working engineer. He hires other people to do that for him. Musk is a smart guy, and I admire what he's done with Space-X. But that doesn't mean he is always right. He isn't.

Musk actively participates in the engineering at Tesla and SpaceX. He's not a salesman or a bean counting exec. He's more of an engineer than you'll ever be. Being a "working engineer" on its own doesn't mean jack.

Mr. Anon said...

"Anonymous said...

Musk is aware of this and estimates that battery energy density would need to at least double in order to power an electric jet plane."

Then he probably estimated wrong. A factor of two does not seem nearly enough for powered flight.

"Musk actively participates in the engineering at Tesla and SpaceX."

And you know this, how?

"He's not a salesman or a bean counting exec."

Then he's a poor CEO, which I don't believe he is.

"He's more of an engineer than you'll ever be. Being a "working engineer" on its own doesn't mean jack."

You know nothing about what I do for a living, nor - it would seem - what Elon Musk does for a living (or rather does for fun - he doesn't need to make a living by it). All I've heard from you is wishes and hopes and fairy-dust dreams about things you evidently know nothing about.

Anonymous said...

Mr. Anon, David Davenport, and the other critics of the hyperloop here remind me of the critics of the hyperloop here:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5VNeNZvE1n8

Silver said...

"By the way, I have always thought that the use of "LOL" makes one sound juvenile and stupid."

Me too. But that actually makes its use rather effective when dismissing a know-it-all bigmouth like yourself. I mean, it got up your nose didn't it?

Anonymous said...

Then he probably estimated wrong. A factor of two does not seem nearly enough for powered flight.

He has more credibility than you do.

And you know this, how?

Because the engineers and employees at his companies say so.

Then he's a poor CEO, which I don't believe he is.

No, he's a good CEO who's not a mere salesman or bean counter, but an active engineer and designer.

You know nothing about what I do for a living, nor - it would seem - what Elon Musk does for a living (or rather does for fun - he doesn't need to make a living by it). All I've heard from you is wishes and hopes and fairy-dust dreams about things you evidently know nothing about.

I know that being a "working engineer" on its own doesn't mean jack.

I know more about this than you do, and Elon Musk knows a hell of a lot more about this than you do.

Anonymous said...

"Probably After Tesla Motors is the Worlds Biggest Car Company, Elon Musk will make an electric supersonic vertical takeoff and landing jet"

http://nextbigfuture.com/2013/08/probabaly-after-tesla-motors-is-worlds.html#more

"Elon Musk, the founder of Tesla Motors and Space Exploration Technologies, said today he may someday work to develop a supersonic, all-electric jet that could take off and land vertically. This would be more cost effective than Hyperloop at distances greater than 1000 miles.

Musk said he currently has his hands full with Tesla and SpaceX, and is not looking to start another company "anytime soon." If he does, it would be to create the supersonic aircraft, which he described as "sort of the ultimate form of transport."

I would take that to mean sometime after Tesla is at least the number three car company in the world in market capitalization (perhaps over $60 billion or when it is number one in the world). It would also be after Spacex has the Spacex Heavy flying and all stages of a rocket are reusable.

Those could happen sometime in the 2018 to 2025 timeframe. Waiting would also allow battery, fuel cell, superconductor and materials technology to improve.

At high enough altitudes, a supersonic plane would create a sonic boom no louder than current aircrafts if designed correctly, Musk said.

An electric plane would have major environmental benefits, in addition to being quiet and fast, Musk said. Because Musk's super plane wouldn't require a long runway to take off or land, airports could be smaller, allowing them to be built closer to popular destinations."

Mr. Anon said...

"Anonymous said...

Mr. Anon, David Davenport, and the other critics of the hyperloop here remind me of the critics of the hyperloop here:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5VNeNZvE1n8"

So, you are invoking Conan O'Brien as a technical expert? Okay. I'll take that under consideration when reading anything that you write.

Interesting how that bit ended up with the Segway - remember how that was going to revolutionize the world too? Just like the Hyperloop ostensibly will. Well, I suppose the Segway did revolutionize the world of mall-cops.

Mr. Anon said...

By the way, Mr. Silver, and Mr. Anonymous - I don't see that you've done anything but cheer-lead here. You never addressed any of the technical points I brought up.

Musk has stated that the pressure inside the hyper-loop tube will be about 7 Torr, about a hundreth of an atmosphere. Structurally, that is the same as total vacuum, so the tube will necessarily be a vacuum chamber. How would you geniuses propose to build a four-hundred mile long vacuum chamber? I estimated it would cost at least $3,000 per foot (based on the cost of actual vacuum chambers), and that's just for the tube itself, not the structure, foundation, right-of-way, etc.

Elon Musk = pretty-boy charlatan said...

I'll take the word of the 21st Century's preeminent engineer-businessman on whether it can be done (physically, practically) over that of the typical isteve poster.

I enjoyed that you wrote this and the comment after next used some quick arithmetic to demonstrate why Musk the tout's expected ridership figures were obvious BS.

You Elonites are pathetic, but no less loyal for being unpaid. You're like the Oprah viewers who now swear they'll ever shop in Zurich again

Mr. Anon said...

"Anonymous

I know more about this than you do,....."

Evidently you do not.

"....and Elon Musk knows a hell of a lot more about this than you do."

Perhaps, but that isn't evident from what he's said. I do not concede to other people the assumption that they are right merely because they are rich. You can do so if you like, if you have such a slavish mentality. I can think for myself.

Notice that Musk is not saying that he is going to build this thing himself. In fact, he has said that he is NOT going to build this thing. He just threw it out into the public domain to see if anyone picks it up. This isn't a new venture for him - it's a class project on which he pulled an all-nighter. You know what else would be a good idea? Compost fueled cars:

Compost Fueled Cars

Why don't you go work on that. Let us know what you come up with.