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Vacuum trains: a high-speed pipe dream?

Discussion in 'Science & Technology' started by entropy13, Jun 15, 2012.

  1. entropy13

    entropy13

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    Vacuum trains promise to speed between Europe and the US faster than a plane. But will they ever make it off the drawing board?

    Transatlantic passengers on Concorde often referred to the supersonic plane as their “time machine” for its ability to land in New York two hours before it left London.

    But that kind of illusion could look like child’s play if so-called vacuum trains ever take off.

    These futuristic transporters, designed to hurtle through tunnels that have had all of the air sucked out of them, could theoretically hit speeds of up to 4,000 km/h (2,500 mph), cutting the commute from Europe to North America to just one hour. In this high-speed future, passengers would arrive a full four hours before they set off.

    As with all far out technology, it sounds like science fiction. And, in fact, vacuum trains do feature in movies like Star Trek and Logan’s Run. Whilst in the dystopian future of Farenheit 451, Ray Bradbury describes a “silent air-propelled train” that “slid soundlessly down its lubricated flue in the earth”.

    But these are far from fiction, as we found out when Future reader Seb Gibbs suggested we look into them here at Hyperdrive. Today, there are teams in the US, China and elsewhere working on the concept, with some predicting their arrival within 10 years. Whilst others believe that they could offer a potentially cheap route to launch rockets into space.



    Full article here.
     
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  2. D007

    D007

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    U get one leak in that vacumn environment at those speeds, the train will literally disintegrate..
    Sounds nice and all but Idk..
     
  3. Kreij

    Kreij Senior Monkey Moderator Staff Member

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    A cross continental EM field propelled vacuum tunnel train was proposed in 1972 by a Rand Corp. physicist for military transportation applications. Speeds could (theoretically) exceed 10,000 mph.

    They figured NY to LA in about 20 minutes.

    http://www.thelivingmoon.com/45jack_files/03files/The_Tubes.html

    One little problem is that if you are cruising along at 10K and an earthquake compromises the tunnel's structure ... you're toast.
     
  4. Jizzler

    Jizzler

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    I drive two hours every weekday in Florida... the 10,000 MPH vacuum train brings my risk of death down ;)
     
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  5. Kreij

    Kreij Senior Monkey Moderator Staff Member

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    Very true. You are statistally safer in a plane than on the highway.
    The only problem is that if the plane crashes your survival chance statistic goes down the dumper. :D
     
  6. FreedomEclipse

    FreedomEclipse ~Technological Technocrat~

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    No different then a car accident, both can be fatal and both you could possibly walk away from if your extremely lucky...

    Either the pilot has played a lot of combat flight sim and knows how to ditch a plane safely or the car took most of the impact and you manage to crawl out from the wreckage.

    Compared to a vaccum - theres a higher rate of survival, you cant 'walk away' from a vaccum, you suffocate
     
  7. rectifryer New Member

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    "Puns in headlines: Not really funny?"

    Internet journalism makes me lol sometimes but not for the right reasons.

    At 200mph you are toast. That point is irrelevant in my opinion.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Jun 15, 2012
  8. Sasqui

    Sasqui

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    As an engineer, I have to say that building a pipe the size of a train and length of a continent that is airtight and handle the forces of a vacuum is beyond any feasible construction techniques we have now, at least to be cost effective.

    Hell, they can't even glue panels to the ceiling of a tunnel in Boston properly.

    Cool to think of... perhaps someday.
     
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  9. D007

    D007

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    Lol well said.. I live in Florida too and yea, people out here drive like r-tards..

    My sentiments as well.. Yea right..
    I work in the civil engineering field and building that would be just all kinds of ridiculous.
    Not to mention the 24/7 security you'd need to monitor every visible section of the pipeline and the systems necessary to maintain negative pressure.. Not to mention every jerk off in the worl who might think it'd be funny to drill one small hole in your vacum and kill everyone on the train..
     
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  10. Sasqui

    Sasqui

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    Cool a fellow CE, what field? Obviously not vacuum train conduit design :laugh:
     
  11. FordGT90Concept

    FordGT90Concept "I go fast!1!11!1!"

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    If you believe the nuclear tunnel boring machines (TBM) are not a myth and you believe the glass-like surface they create is strong enough to maintain a vacuum then tunnels like this already exist and have been in use for a since the 80s at least.

    Making a vacuum using a traditional TBM is impractical and hazardous.
     
    Crunching for Team TPU
  12. lilhasselhoffer

    lilhasselhoffer

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    There are only two problems with this idea, and they've always been the same: cost and maintenance.


    Let's say you've got an unlimited budget in scenario 1, with scenario 2 being a geo-stable earth.

    Scenario one fails because even with an unlimited budget, maintenance would be required around the clock. Minor geological tremors, not to mention the stresses due to barometric pressure shifts and temperature differentials would mean that the project would require so much labor that no ticket prices could allow its operation.

    Scenario two fails because of both human interaction, and insane levels of danger. Human beings have the tendency to want to hurt one another, and there's a huge opportunity to do it here. Putting a small puncture in the line, doing massage damage through other means, or simply screwing around with the delicate conditions necessary for this to operate will make a very messy statement. Additionally, the variation in operational parameters for something like this is near zero. Even the smallest variation kills people, and humanity hasn't even been able to make sure planes are properly maintained 100% of the time.

    Both scenario one and two are unrealistic. Combine the worst parts of both, and you've got reality. That makes a nearly impossible situation completely unrealistic.


    Pipe dream, maybe if it were more plausible. We'll see practical jet-packs before a transcontinental vacuum tube.


    Wow. Just wow.

    Most of the hits that a google search of this brings up are... ... ... ...unique.

    Apparently, the idea of nuclear power still escapes some people. Even more so, the fact that not everything can be melted into rock continues to baffle people. Nuclear energy cannot be converted directly into a beam, it cannot reliably interact with matter as particles moving with that much energy don't reliably contact the nuclei of atoms, and that sort of concentration of radiation would melt anything. Assuming you've got an exotic alloy that can take that heat, you've got to channel molten magma somewhere. The problem with all of this is that you can't reliably interact with the unit (radiation interference), and you can't manually operate the unit (heat+radiation). No controls means that this is unlikely to ever happen.

    Taking out the shadow government talk, physical improbabilities, and losing track of where the funding for this kind of project could come from, what is left? A conspiracy that the government is using a technology beyond anything in the private sector, without anyone having solid proof of anything despite the massive amount of resources that a process like this would take.

    Nixon couldn't cover up Watergate.
    Bill Clinton couldn't get some strange on the side with a secretary.
    What makes you think a much larger, and more difficult to maintain, secret like this is still being kept?

    Interesting read though, FordGT90Concept. It's always worth staring directly into the face of an idea, before discovering that it is powered by crazy.
     
    Last edited: Jun 15, 2012
  13. eidairaman1

    eidairaman1

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    this is same concept as the transfer canisters at mobile banks. But ya too many risk factors to either eliminate or reduce in such a situation. and to bridge from one continent to the next wouldnt really work because of continental drift. As said below a pin hole could become something more over time with negative pressure inside the bridge.
     
  14. de.das.dude

    de.das.dude Pro Indian Modder

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    lol @ US and Chinese :p

    this is a bad idea. well its a bad idea until someone makes it earthquake proof!
     
  15. Avelict

    Avelict

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    One possibility (with unlimited funding -_-) would be to use an advanced form of shield tunneling to create to largest bore that you see in my (very) quickly done Visio drawing attached to this post.

    Altogether you would use 3 'layers' to protect the trains, the outermost 2 would be to protect from things such as earthquakes/tremors and enough space would be given between the outermost and middle layer that continental drift wouldn't become an issue until millenia later. Using numerous supports throughout the length of the tunnel would essentialy suspend the 2 inner layers. And repeat the process between the middle layer and the inner layer, suspending the core using support structures.

    The hardest part would be to maintain the vacuum in the core layer while still bringing in power/people at a very large scale. Unless we can find a way to have power produce power upon itself and ask people to hold their breath when they get on or leave the train, I have no clue, lol.

    BTW I am in no way an engineer, but I love just thinking about stuff like this.
     

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  16. FordGT90Concept

    FordGT90Concept "I go fast!1!11!1!"

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    Patents were filed for it in 1971-1974 by the United States Atomic Energy Commission (which was renamed to United States Energy Research and Development Administration in 1974):
    http://www.reptoids.com/Vault/Underground/tbm1page.htm
    http://www.reptoids.com/Vault/Underground/tbm2page.htm
    http://www.reptoids.com/Vault/Underground/tbm3page.htm

    Rand Corp. was apparently contracted to build one or more of them according to leaked documents. Maybe they found out it doesn't work. Maybe it did work. We (the people without ridiculously high security clearance) don't know.

    There is some truth to the claims but it is impossible to tell where the facts end and the fiction starts.


    Because you're talking about politicians, not black programs. A prime example of a black program is the US-Israeli engineered virus that destroyed Iranian centrifuges. The only reason why anyone outside of Iran found out is because it escaped to the internet.

    Hindsight is 20/20.


    Anyway, there's a reason why I put all that blatant speculation in the post: there's no way to prove/disprove it. :p


    Bottom line: this concept (vacuum tunnels) is almost 4 decades old.
     
    Last edited: Jun 15, 2012
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    Crunching for Team TPU
  17. de.das.dude

    de.das.dude Pro Indian Modder

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    nice idea, but earthquakes dont work that way!
     

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