DailyDirt: Getting From Point A To B… Really Really Quickly

from the urls-we-dig-up dept

Transportation has evolved from simply walking to riding to flying to sailing and orbiting and all kinds of modes of travel. We’ve grown accustomed to speeds of 100-600 mph or so, but it’s possible to go a lot faster. A Concorde jet could go over 1,000 mph, but those planes aren’t in service anymore. Traveling to space might not appeal to that many people, but getting from NYC to LA in an hour might. Check out a few concept vehicles that could accomplish supersonic (or hypersonic) travel.

After you’ve finished checking out those links, take a look at our Daily Deals for cool gadgets and other awesome stuff.

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New Feature at Techdirt: Tomorrow's Headlines Tonight!

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And now the stories we’ve scoured the world for… Every anomaly that fits our agenda, get ready for… (sound effect: kazoo fanfare) Tomorrow’s Headlines Tonight!

“REPORT: Almost None of the ‘Women’ in ASHLEY MADISON Database Ever Used Site…”
Precis: All you guys who paid money thinking you were even chatting wth women were totally ripped off! Now, that’s internet innovation!

“SLAUGHTERED ON CAMERA… Video censored by phony DMCA claims!”
Precis: Yet again, the MPAA and their draconian copyright regime have stifled free speech and prevented ten or twelve mentally deranged individuals from watching this gore over and over. It’s ridiculous!”

Meh. I’m verging on entertaining, so that’s it, lurbles. Some text copied from Drudge.

Mason Wheelersays:

Technically, the Hyperloop won’t be going at supersonic speeds; it’ll max out at just a little bit below the speed of sound, because the capsule will be traveling through a tube that’s not quite hard vacuum, and so you still have to stay below sonic speeds to avoid generating sonic booms and all sorts of nasty shockwaves that that brings with it.

Pretty Pictures, No Substance.

Elon Musk’s pretty pictures look pretty much like those produced by various government agencies and contractors, circa 1965.

Tomorrow’s Transportation: New Systems for the Urban Future, U. S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, Office of Metropolitan Development, Urban Transportation Administration, Washington D.C., 1968 (Library of Congress catalog number 68-61300)

Metrotran-2000: A Study of Future Concepts in Metropolitan Transportation for the Year 2000, Cornell Aeronautical Laboratories, Inc., by: Robert A. Wolf, Transportation Research Department, CAL No. 150, October 1967

Re: Re: Pretty Pictures, No Substance.

Well, if you just want to build a short track which goes around in a circle in an amusement park, that is one thing. If you want to build a national network, that is something else again. Say, 40,000 miles at $100 million per mile, that would be four trillion dollars. We would be talking about a major government commitment. The United States Department of Transportation found, in effect, that it could not afford to turn its pretty pictures into reality.

Read about the BNSF Railroad’s double-tracking project in Abo Canyon in New Mexico, a matter of eight miles, four of which are “difficult.” See Ken Fitzgerald, “Fixing The Weakest Link,” Trains Magazine, Nov. 2011. It took three years, and involved 1.8 million cubic yards of earthwork, and I don’t know how much dynamite they used. Note the picture of the supremely smug bighorn sheep standing there and watching the trains go by. It’s his country, human, and don’t you forget it!

Re: Re: Re: Re: Pretty Pictures, No Substance.

The same business. Musk’s pretty pictures relating to Mars are not even as good as Gerrard O’Neil’s pretty pictures of space colonies, from the 1970’s, which called for establishing factories on the moon to provide inexpensive building materials for the space colonies.

What Musk has actually done is to launch rockets of approximately the type which NASA was launching in 1961. NASA has a particular genius for blowing money on things not related to the main goal. Anyone who doesn’t do that can compete with NASA on launching satellites into earth orbit. I understand that Elon Musk complains about the Russians, because they are better at saving money than he is, and they use military surplus rocket equipment. The Soviet Union once had more than a thousand Inter-Continental-Ballistic-Missiles pointing at the United States, plus the usual quantity of spare parts, and that stuff is, in the last analysis, available, like any other military surplus, at scrap-metal prices.

There’s this whole cult of personality about Elon Musk. People say that Musk is like Steve Jobs, ergo he must be a genius, and he’s going to do all these things. What you forget is that Steve Jobs had Moore’s Law running in his favor. Jobs did a lot of dumb things, but he was bailed out by the fact that computers were getting better and cheaper so fast. That is not happening in the underlying materials of aerospace (fuel, structural aluminum, titanium, and magnesium, etc.), or those of large-scale construction. There has been no real improvement on dynamite as a means of blasting rock since the 1860’s, the decade of the Civil War. The Ancient Romans knew how to make concrete– and its limitations. So they used stone blocks to build structures like the Pont Du Gard in France, which could stay up for a couple of thousand years.


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