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Government Transportation

'Elon Musk's Hyperloop Is Doomed For the Worst Reason' (bloomberg.com) 304

schwit1 quotes a Bloomberg column by Virginia Postrel: What makes Musk's Hyperloop plan seem like fantasy isn't the high-tech part. Shooting passengers along at more than 700 miles per hour seems simple -- engineers pushed 200 miles-per-hour in a test this week -- compared to building a tunnel from New York to Washington. And even digging that enormously long tunnel -- twice as long as the longest currently in existence -- seems straightforward compared to navigating the necessary regulatory approvals... The eye-rolling comes less from the technical challenges than from the bureaucratic ones.

With his premature declaration, Musk is doing public debate a favor. He's reminding us of what the barriers to ambitious projects really are: not technology, not even money, but getting permission to try. "Permits harder than technology," Musk tweeted after talking with Los Angeles mayor Eric Garcetti about building a tunnel network. That's true for the public sector as well as the private... SpaceX and its commercial-spaceflight competitors can experiment because Congress and President Barack Obama agreed to protect them from Federal Aviation Administration standards. usk is betting that his salesmanship will have a similar effect on the ground. He's trying to get the public so excited that the political pressures to allow the Hyperloop to go forward become irresistible. He seems to believe that he can will the permission into being. If he succeeds, he'll upend not merely intercity transit but the bureaucratic process by which things get built. That would be a true science-fiction scenario.

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'Elon Musk's Hyperloop Is Doomed For the Worst Reason'

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  • I know right (Score:5, Insightful)

    by tylersoze ( 789256 ) on Sunday August 06, 2017 @02:26PM (#54951039)

    God forbid there should be some oversight in building a ground level supersonic transport system.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward
      "Some" is hardly what is going on here. Current regulations are smothering innovation.

      From the article "SpaceX and its commercial-spaceflight competitors can experiment because Congress and President Barack Obama agreed to protect them from Federal Aviation Administration standards." Something similar could be done here.

    • Re:I know right (Score:4, Insightful)

      by hord ( 5016115 ) <jhord@carbon.cc> on Sunday August 06, 2017 @02:47PM (#54951159)

      My uncle is a civil engineer that was asked to work on a show about the Hoover Dam. He said it couldn't be built today due to regulatory approval. It's weird how people aren't saying no oversight... they're saying reasonable oversight. We get stuff like Hoover Dam.

      • Re:I know right (Score:5, Interesting)

        by Balial ( 39889 ) on Sunday August 06, 2017 @03:32PM (#54951347) Homepage

        Why would you want to build another hoover dam today? California produces more than twice the power from the hoover dam from wind. 96 people died in the construction of the hoover dam.

        It's almost as if technology changes adjust the cost/benefit of various projects, obsoleting once acceptable ideas.

        To bring it back to the article: Digging vast tunnels under major metropolitan areas like LA, New York and DC without any oversight is ridiculous.

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by hord ( 5016115 )

          They didn't have wind turbines back when it was built. Why don't you use period-appropriate arguments. We are talking about regulatory hurdles preventing the creation of infrastructure which people complain about almost non-stop. My point is that we might be preventing the building of better infrastructure today because we are afraid of the environmental costs. What about the loss of benefit to society?

          • by Balial ( 39889 )

            Huh? Period arguments? That's the whole point.

            "The hoover dam wouldn't be approved today!". Perhaps that's right. But it was back in the day. And it was built. So if we're ignoring period arguments, it's absolutely irrelevant what today's regulations might or might not do to its approval.

            The point is, if it wasn't for the vast abundance of gas, solar, wind, nuclear etc. there probably wouldn't be such a big oversight in building a huge dam with possibly catastrophic outcomes.

            Same as, if LA, DC and NYC were

          • by AmiMoJo ( 196126 ) <mojoNO@SPAMworld3.net> on Monday August 07, 2017 @08:10AM (#54955103) Homepage Journal

            It's probably more to do with not running into other stuff buried underground than safety or environmental issues.

            The industry I work in (water) obviously has a lot of buried infrastructure, mostly pipes. They don't know exactly where a lot of it is... There are maps, many of them more than a century old, hand drawn and based on landmarks that don't exist any more. Probably weren't drafted with any great accuracy anyway.

            Okay, so you go deeper. Everyone is deeper than the last project.... Well, that doesn't really work either. And in any case, if you dig a tunnel under a building, you might affect that building in some way. Depends how tall it is, what the foundations are made of, what the ground under it is made of etc.

            That's why there are regulations. We found out the hard way that digging tunnels under cities carries some risks that we really need to try to mitigate.

        • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

          by blindseer ( 891256 )

          Why would you build another Hoover Dam if 96 people died building it? Because it's quite likely 150 people would die producing the same energy from wind.

          https://www.nextbigfuture.com/... [nextbigfuture.com]

          If the goal is safe energy production in the USA then nuclear is at the top. Next comes, by a wide margin, solar and hydro. In fourth comes wind.

      • Your uncle is forgetting most of the "good" spots to build a dam are taken. A good dam needs elevation change, a large well ginormous really area you can flood and the owners of that land are now sol. In central texas there is a chain of several dams for the colorado. They are building a very small dam below austin, but when I was talking to an LCRA employee, they were lamenting it is basically flat from here to houston, so not much capacity from the new dam. Another problem is over 100 people died building

    • God forbid there should be some oversight in building a ground level supersonic transport system.

      "some oversight" does not mean that the permit has to be larger than the tunnel boring machine.

      Virginia Postrel is my favorite columnist. She is the literary equivalent of John Stossel.

    • Re:I know right (Score:4, Insightful)

      by vtcodger ( 957785 ) on Sunday August 06, 2017 @04:58PM (#54951811)

      I'm a little surprised that musk doesn't seem to have anticipated the regulatory issue. More important, he doesn't seem to be familiar with Seattle's tunneling effort in its attempt to replace the Alaska Way Viaduct. That (expensive) project is WAY over budget and WAY late due largely to encountering a steel pipe where it didn't expect one. The pipe broke the boring machine which then required a secondary hole/tunnel be drilled to get access to the damaged machinery. Boring tunnels in modern urban areas is a lot more complex than folks (including Musk?) think.

      The other big relatively recent urban tunneling effort in the US was Boston's Big Dig which also was way late and way over budget. I think it was a "dig a huge ditch, put a transportation tube at the bottom then fill over it operation" not a tunnel bore. But here's a quote from Wikipedia.

      In addition to political and financial difficulties, the project faced several environmental and engineering obstacles. The downtown area through which the tunnels were to be dug was largely landfill, and included existing Red Line and Blue Line subway tunnels as well as innumerable pipes and utility lines that would have to be replaced or moved. Tunnel workers encountered many unexpected geological and archaeological barriers, ranging from glacial debris to foundations of buried houses and a number of sunken ships lying within the reclaimed land.

      Tunneling through urban areas does not seem to be a project for the faint of heart.

      • by Teun ( 17872 )
        I assume this tunnel is to cover a greater distance, hence it can be dug much deeper and below many of these issues.
        Not that there are no different problems at greater depth...

        But looking at the slow but eventually successful tunnelling of for example the Amsterdam Metro, even outright swampland under a major city is no reason to stop the work.
  • there are too many regulations getting in the way?
    • Not quite... (Score:5, Insightful)

      by YuppieScum ( 1096 ) on Sunday August 06, 2017 @02:49PM (#54951163) Journal

      The problem is with the regulators, not the regulations.

      Bureaucrats - and politicians - of every stripe want their fingers in big projects, partly for the reflected kudos and partly for the perks. The "working lunches" at your expense to iron out some sort of "paperwork glitch", permit fees, consultancy fees, introduction fees, and the bigger the project, the stickier their fingers...

      I think Musk's approach of shining a BIG spotlight on the process is to try and keep these "public servants" honest. I hope it works...

    • by plopez ( 54068 )

      That's what the shills want you to believe

  • Says who (Score:5, Insightful)

    by mattwarden ( 699984 ) on Sunday August 06, 2017 @02:32PM (#54951067)

    Huh? My eyes roll for the technical challenges.

    • Re:Says who (Score:4, Informative)

      by intellitech ( 1912116 ) on Sunday August 06, 2017 @02:45PM (#54951149)

      Yeah, the tunnel length alone. And then it needs to be almost airtight?

      Technical difficulty will far outweigh the bureaucratic difficulty.

      • Re:Says who (Score:5, Interesting)

        by gweihir ( 88907 ) on Sunday August 06, 2017 @03:12PM (#54951273)

        And that is just it. Europe and Asia have high-speed rail systems. They were really expensive. Don't you think alternatives were not looked at? Oh, wait, they were, for example the Transrapid. Turns out the alternatives are not commercially viable and are technologically problematic.

        My take here is the Musk has some inkling that he will fail on the tech side and is preparing a smokescreen. And, I have to admit, it is an excellent smokescreen as getting the permits needed here may well be infeasible as well.

  • by sunking2 ( 521698 ) on Sunday August 06, 2017 @02:39PM (#54951107)
    We should just give away all the land rights to the public lands and allow him to take any private by eminent domain. The local populace should have no recourse if its something Musk wants.
    • It's not just property rights, it's safety. What happens when one of those transport cars catches fire? How do people get out? Do they burn to death or do they open the door and suffocate? What about other safety incidents? Accidents happen, people carry fire on their persons. What about terrorism?

      The regulatory paperwork is there for a reason, it's to make sure when someone builds stuff like this they've actually thought through the safety aspects and have engineered them properly. Accidents happen, even i

      • Personally, I am pretty torn on this; we are in a regulatory era that turns a 2-year construction project into a 10-15 year process. The immediate impact of this is increasing the cost. However, we don't really need a new era of the robber-barons, and things should be safe.

        If Musk can bore tunnels at a pace of a mile per month this makes fairly long distance tunnels economically viable... but it also means you are stuck working with many different jurisdictions at the same time. If he can do it with zero

      • "What happens when one of those transport cars catches fire? "

        They'll just use nonburnable materiel to build it, it's not rocket science, albeit the guy knows rocket science quite well too.

  • by BasilBrush ( 643681 ) on Sunday August 06, 2017 @02:41PM (#54951115)

    Who ever said that the hyperloop will be a tunnel from start to finish? Hyperloop works just as well above ground on concrete pylons. Going alongside highways, through farmland and even going over existing roads is perfectly possible with an elevated hyperloop.

    At the end of the day hyperloop can't have any steep gradients or changes of direction. It'll be tunnels when passing through hills or mountains, and above ground when they land is low lying.

    Similar to railways in that it's mixed above ground and tunnels. Only more so because changes of direction need to be minimised much more.

    There will not be one long tunnel.

    • Because acquiring the land for your above-ground system is far harder and more expensive than acquiring the land below ground.

      • It depends. As I said the preferred route for above ground hyperloop is running alongside highways. The pylons then are constructed on land owned by a transport authority, who will in pretty much all cases be glad of the reduction in cars on the highway, and happy to be paid. Permission is easy.

        And in all cases you heen to balance the ease of getting permission with the cost of construction. A hyperloop that's mostly above aground will be far cheaper to construct.

        • As I said the preferred route for above ground hyperloop is running alongside highways

          In general, the government only owns the land the highway is built upon. It doesn't own much to either side of the highway because that's expensive. Instead, the government uses easements to give them the right to condemn property next to the highway when they want to expand the highway. But they still have to pay the property owner when they condemn the property, making it expensive to do.

          So there generally is not enough space to a track at ground level. And even if you want to ignore the massive cost

          • You need to read the Hyperloop proposal, because what I've told is pretty much the plan for the SF to LA hyperloop. Most of it follows the interstate, much of it on pylons.

            Whilst it's an early document, and not definitive, the authors will have looked at this a bit more than you have.

    • Why couldn't it have any steep gradients? As long as change of slope is more gradual than the minimum turning radius, it should be able to handle extremely steep slopes - the steeper the slope the less effort required to levitate the car off the rails. With the maximum slope being determined by the minimum levitation force required to maintain stability.

      • At 700 mph an upward change in gradient with a radius of 100 km produces 1G of downward acceleration. That added to the earth's gravity gives you 2Gs. Your passengers are not going to be happy with that kind of force.

        Imagine if you tried to actually follow the real terrain, even of a typical interstate. You'd have puddles, not passengers.

        Here is a calculator to play with ... https://rechneronline.de/g-acc... [rechneronline.de]

        • Check your math, you're off by about an order of magnitude. Centripetal acceleration = v^2/r, so to get 1G at 700mph (313m/s) you need r=(313m/s)^2/(10m^2/s) = ~10km, not 100. that's the difference between making routing just inconvenient and basically infeasible.

          Also, that's only relevant to the radius of curvature, not the slope itself. Make a nice gentle 20km curve and you can then plunge almost vertically, if you wanted to do so for some reason. Orbital transport cannons are the only application that

          • Thank you. The calculator I used and linked to is apparently bad. Wolfram confirmed your number of approximately 10km radius.

            Still, that makes it basically infeasible to follow terrain in any significant way. At a speed near to a km every 3 seconds, your changes in gradients will need to span many kilometers to not cause stomach lurching effects. I suppose you'd be good for the plains and many coastal areas, but something like a Chicago - Pittsburgh - New York City route would be a bit tough.

      • Because you don't want it to feel like a rollercoaster.

    • " Going alongside highways, through farmland and even going over existing roads is perfectly possible with an elevated hyperloop."

      In Wuppertal, Germany, they even build public transport over a river, over 100 years ago and it works 'til this very day.

      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/... [wikipedia.org]

  • by Henriok ( 6762 )
    Yes, it's hard to get approval to shoot thousands of people in a tube dug underground across several legislative jurisdictions. I wonder why? What could possibly go wrong is such scenario? Could people die? Could the tunnel compromise sensitive locations? Could the tunnel disrupt plans already set in motions by the in-between communities? I think it's perfectly fair to make this difficult, and I think Musk is tenacious enough to see it through, and by junmping through the hoops make an even better product t
  • Useless article (Score:5, Insightful)

    by vadim_t ( 324782 ) on Sunday August 06, 2017 @02:45PM (#54951145) Homepage

    Damn straight permits are needed. Because even the biggest Elon Musk advocate would be screaming bloody murder if they found the Hyperloop would pass right through their living room, their farm, or that really scenic lake on their property.

    The question is then what permits, and are they bullshit or not? Some permits exist for obscure reasons, some because some things involve other people's property, some for safety reasons, and some because people get pissy when heavy earth moving equipment shows up in their backyard.

    Yes, of course before cities were built and when people were just moving into America, there weren't such problems, because there wasn't a crapload of infrastructure and settled people to object. But you can't have those times back, unless you like the idea of completely unrestrained forfeiture where you can be kicked out of your home to make room for a mall, and companies building housing that's going to sink into the ground in a decade or two.

  • Permits for ultra-major construction project like this are very important. Really, for gawd sakes. Those "permits" are to enforce measures in silly laws like the Clean Water Act. Do you want to live in a nation where anyone with money is just allowed to do whatever they want where ever they want to? Permits are dang important.
  • by HangingChad ( 677530 ) on Sunday August 06, 2017 @02:55PM (#54951197) Homepage

    That would be a true science-fiction scenario.

    And yet that's exactly what Uber has done. Anyone looking at that business model in March of 2009 would have said that their hurdles were more regulatory than technological. Uber basically bullied its way through taxi regulations, one major city at a time.

    It's a mistake to underestimate Elon Musk.

  • I'm sure we'll hear there are only 2 possibilities:

    1. A many layered, multi-year regulatory process that makes it prohibitively difficult to get anything done
    2. An anarchy hellscape where corpses rot in the streets and the living envy the dead

    Too bad we can't come up with a sensible regulatory scheme more like the countries in Europe. Regulators could have specific, written requirements and definite timetables. And they could be limited to 2 layers at most: State and Federal, with one board taking all the

    • Regulators could have specific, written requirements and definite timetables.

      They already do. The most frequent reason permits are denied are the applicants not complying with those timetables. "What do you mean I actually have to have the geological report before I get a permit to build the foundation?!?!"

      And they could be limited to 2 layers at most: State and Federal

      Because fuck the locals and what they want.

      Your house is really, really unimportant to your state, and barely acknowledged by the Federal government. Your ability to affect your state and Federal government is basically zero. So when someone wants to level it for their infrast

      • by Kohath ( 38547 )

        And they could be limited to 2 layers at most: State and Federal

        Because fuck the locals and what they want.

        Local governments are a creation of state governments. The states delegate authority to them.

        And it's not "fuck" anyone. But someone needs to give a final yes or no on a project rather than 50 different boards and groups and courts saying "no" (or "no, but it can be yes if you also build us a pony farm"). The board would take all the input and render a decision. The decision wouldn't be about what anyone "wants", it would be a consequence of the rules.

        So when someone wants to level it for their infrastructure dream, you should happily accept he loss, right?

        You know there are specific rules for that, right?

        • And it's not "fuck" anyone. But someone needs to give a final yes or no on a project rather than 50 different boards and groups and courts saying "no"

          By elevating the decision to a level totally unresponsive to local issues, it is fuck a lot of people.

          My state was hit by a hurricane. Two counties were heavily damaged by flooding. You'd think it would be a quick, no-brainer deal to rebuild the damaged bridges and provide some funding from the state, right?

          It's been two years. Still no funding. Because only one state Senate and two state Assembly districts care. The counties don't have a lot of people so statewide offices don't care. The counties are

  • by Bruce Perens ( 3872 ) <bruce@perens.com> on Sunday August 06, 2017 @03:01PM (#54951217) Homepage Journal

    In the last century, a short-sighted if not outright evil power broker by the name of Robert Moses, never elected to any post, directly planned the transport system of New York city and the state around it, and vastly influenced the planning of other cities.

    One of Mr. Moses' nasty feats was to specify that all of the parkway bridges be built so low that it would be impossible to run trains under them, even though many were built with broad center islands.

    I grew up in one of the towns under his thumb. We literally had a 100-year-old railroad system that only went to one station for 3 large communities, with 100-year-old bridges, etc. No new train construction since New York's subways in the '30's and '40's, but lots of new roads for cars.

    America's cities still suffer under the dead hand of Robert Moses and people like him, who actively wiped out our railroads, never considering the problems automobiles would bring.

    Elon Musk's hyperloop is not the solution for this. The speed, confinement, and vacuum are obvious problems that make it more of a bomb than a train. But conventional high-speed rail transport is the solution.

    Most americans never spend time in Europe and learn about really good trains. Try Switzerland and you won't understand why people even want cars.

    • by gweihir ( 88907 )

      Indeed. Trains solve the problem. They are proven, with known risks and costs. They can be slow or pretty fast. They can be for passengers or freight. Safety systems are very advanced now. For example, the ICE drives autonomously above 160km/h. You can buy them in just the variant you want.

      But that would not be flashy future-tech and it may involve admitting that there are some things the US does not do best. (Well, there are a lot of those things, but almost none are admitted...)

      • "Indeed. Trains solve the problem. They are proven, with known risks and costs. They can be slow or pretty fast. "

        But not _that_ fast.

      • by Teun ( 17872 )
        Yes trains are a great mode of mass transport.

        In The Netherlands we have one of the densest rail networks in the world yet it becomes ever more difficult to fit in new lines.
        That's why the Dutch are not just watching what Elon Musk is doing but we actually contribute to the development of the Hyperloop, by going below ground it would solve many of our space problems.
  • - - - - - The eye-rolling comes less from the technical challenges than from the bureaucratic ones. - - - - -

    John Galt forbid that human beings should have any say in what happens in their physical, environmental, or economic environment through the entity they have created to provide such oversight, their government. Next you'll be telling me that Uber should be held responsible for flat-out breaking the law.

    By the way, how's that self-driving car thing coming? Been tested on a snowpacked street in B

  • https://www.amazon.com/Enginee... [amazon.com]

    Applicable in this case, I think.

  • Say, for the sake of argument, that bureaucratic red tape makes building a Hyperloop impractical in the USA.

    The solution? Build it somewhere else first. Once it has been up and running for a few years in, say, China, it would be more of a known entity and therefore easier to convince people to support it in the USA. (Or perhaps it would crash and burn in China for whatever reason, in which case we'd know that not allowing it in the USA was in fact the right thing to do)

  • In the US, when you buy a house, you don't necessarily get the mineral rights. If there's gold or diamonds or oil under your house you may not have a valid claim to it. Are we to assume that cities, counties and other entities DO have rights to the land below them? How deep do those rights go?

    As a practical matter, communities should not be concerned about activities far below them any more than activities in the air high above. Fracking being an obvious exception where it can cause earthquakes or damage th

    • by Teun ( 17872 )
      In a lot of (Western) Europe the mineral rights are governed by laws from the days of Napoleon.
      Meaning most things more than a meter below ground (or your building) belongs to the the state.
      Yes it makes this sort of planning much easier.
  • by hey! ( 33014 ) on Sunday August 06, 2017 @04:16PM (#54951541) Homepage Journal

    in a world where you could put eight miles of new subway line in a major city without checking to see what's there first. But after hundreds of years of development, most without the benefit of geographic information systems, you can't be certain what kind of weird [wikipedia.org]shit [nytimes.com] (or people [wikipedia.org]) down there.

    The author seems shocked that it'd take ten years of planning before you could start workers digging. The reality is you need to figure out the impact on water, sewer, gas, electricity, telecom, peoples basements -- and chances are none of that stuff is all on one map; a lot of it is likely not mapped at all, or mapped incorrectly. Ten years before your break ground seems very reasonable to me.

    Likewise he's mortified that the Chesapeake Bay Tunnel project had to spend two years on geological and environmental impact studies before breaking ground. That's a twenty-three mile long complex of causeways and tunnels across the mouth of the Chesapeake Bay, one of the most important fisheries in the country as well one of the world's busiest shipping routes. Two years of study! He calls this a "run-of-the-mill highway". Sure, anything seems easy if you no abso-frickin' nothing about engineering. Bridges and tunnels are the most prestigious projects for a civil engineer to work on because they're ridiculously complex. Just look at all the pieces of the thing [wikimedia.org]. Two years of preliminary geological and environmental study to build the thing sounds outstanding.

    This is just Dunning-Kruger run amok. These aren't cases of preliminary studies holding back engineering. Assessing the feasibility and impact of a project is a *major part* of civil engineering. Sure, you could start digging and hope you don't rupture a gas line, breech a high pressure water main, start a plague of rats in Manhattan's Upper East Side (average annual income $180K), damage a fishery that that brings in 290 million dollars per year, or find out the soil you're tunneling through won't support the weight above it. And then you'd be forced to stop and figure out how to fix it. In fact you'd almost inevitably be forced to stop and redesign your project.

    A basic principle of engineering project management is that it's waaay cheaper to anticipate a problem than to figure out what to do about it when you're halfway done.

    • The vast majority of the problems are solved simply by going deep. They would be silly to plan these new systems less than 500 ft down. That is why they are planning for the vehicles to enter the system via shafts.
  • We should be taking real care in how this thing effects people. Affecting this much change is a damn big deal, and I think that we should be doing this because we need to be comfortable with upgrading our infrastructure. And if we consistently say no to changes, we don't move forward.
    Sure this will piss people off, but we should have a reasonable ability to reshape the future.
  • Sure, government regulation is a huge problem, but I think we should all acknowledge all the other impossible hurdles to a practicle Hyperloop first:

    1) During normal temperature variance, the inaugural, proposed route will experience over three football fields worth of expansion and contraction. Your supports have to deal with this. The only real solution is flex couplings, but we don't know how to build flex couplings that can also maintain the kind of vacuum that is required for the Hyperloop to be a
    • by Teun ( 17872 )

      Sure, government regulation is a huge problem, but I think we should all acknowledge all the other impossible hurdles to a practicle Hyperloop first:

      1) During normal temperature variance, the inaugural, proposed route will experience over three football fields worth of expansion and contraction. Your supports have to deal with this. The only real solution is flex couplings, but we don't know how to build flex couplings that can also maintain the kind of vacuum that is required for the Hyperloop to be anything but an insanely expensive monorail.

      No, such connections are well understood and feasible, in the oil industry they are called slip joints.
      Also, an underground tube does not suffer the same expansion issues, have a look at the world's great tunnels.

      2) In the event of failure, there's no good way to evacuate people. Decompression of a car, even if controlled will kill the passengers because even compressed pure oxygen can't provide enough oxygen to them to survive in the vacuum conditions.

      Crap, the relevant segment of the tunnel can be pressurised in seconds, enough time to save the passengers.
      By the way, do you know a plane at 30,000 ft. needs pressurisation?

      3) A simply pipe bomb, detonated anywhere along the line, will cause explosive decompression of the entire tube, killing anyone in the tube, and immediately scrapping the entire route.

      What a load of baloney, why would the entire tube decompress? The damn thing IS already decompressed :)
      Also, the tube is n

  • When Musk originally proposed the hyperloop as an alternative to California's not-really-high speed rail, one of his arguments was that it'd be much cheaper and easier to get permission for. HSR is unable to wrangle permission to build anywhere but empty bits of the central valley because it needs to acquire so much land and rights of way. The hyperloop, he argued, could simply follow the freeways and be built above the center divider. What happened to that notion?

  • That's the best reason. Fuck your useless pet project. There are rules, regulations, and property owners that take precedence over some jerkoff building a jumbo pneumatic tube system.

  • The entire concept has long been disproven [youtube.com].
    First off, a vacuum tunnel miles long is impossible. Vacuum chambers cannot have flexible seals that are moving around, expanding and contracting, which is what anything over a few hundred feet has to do.
    Secondly, sucking all the air out of the tunnel, and the powering it with a propeller makes no sense at all.
    And most damning, the fail state is everyone gets vaporized and a large section of the city probably gets exploded as well. Their is just far too much potent

  • You know, there seem to be a lot of people trying their darndest to make things better, to improve the world, and to improve everything around us.

    Am I the only one who's already happy?

    I live in a Canadian metropolitan suburb. I've got a house. I'm safe. There's food. There's electricity. There's healthcare. What do I have to complain about?

    Look at things thusly: until 100 years ago, there wasn't a man alive in all of history who had things better than I have things right now. Even the wealthiest kin

Once it hits the fan, the only rational choice is to sweep it up, package it, and sell it as fertilizer.