Hyperloop: The future of travel?
The Hyperloop is a proposed method of transportation consisting of a high-speed levitating pod powered by magnetic levitation, travelling through vacuum tubes at high speeds.
The Design Boom website describes the first ever successful passenger test ride of a Hyperloop system, which took place on 9 November 2020. The Virgin Hyperloop’s successful test took place on Virgin’s 500 metre ‘DevLoop’ site in Nevada. Two occupants travelled at speeds of up to 107 miles per hour. The inventor of the Hyperloop technology, Tesla boss Elon Musk, states that he believes it has the potential to reach speeds of 600 miles per hour, and that it could cut the journey time from San Francisco to Los Angeles from six hours by car to just 30 minutes by Hyperloop.
Some have questioned whether the technology behind the Hyperloop is revolutionary, or whether it reuses existing technology. Writing for the sustainable transport website Shift, Matthew Beedham states that the technology used in the Hyperloop, magnetic levitation (often known as maglev), has been used for many years on high speed trains around the world. The high cost and potential low passenger numbers on Hyperloop lead Beedham to conclude that further investment in existing maglev high speed rail would be a wiser policy choice than pursing Hyperloop.
In the UK, Labour mayoral candidate for West Yorkshire, Hugh Goulbourne, writes in the Yorkshire Post that Hyperloop could help build an “affordable, reliable and safe mass transit system” in the region.
Read the articles in full:
- Design Boom, ‘BIG-designed Virgin hyperloop successfully completes first passenger test’, 9 November.
- Matthew Beedham, ‘Hyperloop is just an expensive train in a tube — why’s everyone so excited?’, Shift, 12 November 2020
- Hugh Goulbourne, ‘How a Hyperloop will lead West Yorkshire to a brave new world’, Yorkshire Post, 12 November 2020.
Water on the moon
Researchers from the University of Hawaii at Mānoa, using NASA’s Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy, have recently found evidence that one of the moon’s biggest craters, the Clavicus Crater, contains water.
In the BBC’s Science Focus magazine, Stuart Clark states that the discovery is particularly important, as it proves that water exists on areas of the moon away from the permanently shadowed craters near the south pole. The Clavicus crater, while in the southern hemisphere, does receive some exposure to sunlight. Previously, it was thought water could only exist away from any sunlight. Clark states that this new finding “implies that water may be much more widely distributed across the lunar surface than previously thought.”
Writing for the Chemistry World website, Katrina Kramer explains that this water is most likely in the form of ice and is trapped inside glassy rocks formed during meteorite strikes. It is distributed in “thousands of tiny shadowy patches around the lunar south pole.”
The discovery found 100 to 412 parts per million of water trapped in a cubic meter of soil spread across the lunar surface. NASA states that this is roughly equivalent to a 12-ounce (340 gram) bottle of water. Paul Hertz, director of the Astrophysics Division in the Science Mission Directorate at
NASA, states that “this discovery challenges our understanding of the lunar surface and raises intriguing questions about resources relevant for deep space exploration.”
Read the articles in full:
- Stuart Clark, ‘What does finding water on the Moon mean for the future of space exploration?’, BBC Science Focus, 12 November 2020.
- Katrina Kramer, ‘First definitive proof of water on the moon’, Chemistry World, 26 October 2020.