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‘Hyperloop’ would promise space travel on Earth

An image released by Tesla Motors, is a sketch of the Hyperloop capsule with passengers onboard. . Billionaire entrepreneur Elon Musk on Monday, Aug. 12, 2013 unveiled a concept for a transport system he says would make the nearly 400-mile trip in half the time it takes an airplane. The "Hyperloop" system would use a large tube with capsules inside that would float on air, traveling at over 700 miles per hour. (AP Photo/Tesla Motors)

First there was the steam powered train, then high speed diesel trains, then bullet trains, then maglev trains, and now – there it is, all over the Internet – a mock-up of a high-speed transportation system using tubes that could get you get you between cities, say Seattle to Portland, or San Francisco to Los Angeles, faster than what?

Faster than jets – and without even leaving the ground. The system is called the “Hyperloop,” pioneered by Colorado inventor Daryl Oster.

If you wanted to travel between Los Angeles and San Francisco Oster claims it would only take a half hour.

“Twenty seconds to get up to 300, 350 miles per hour,” said Oster.

You can think of it as a giant pea shooter. Except the passenger capsule isn’t propelled by air, in fact air is prohibited – that’s what makes it faster than an airplane. There’s no wind resistance. The passenger capsules are propelled by a frictionless magnetic field inside a long straight tube that’s kept at a vacuum. So that theoretically if the tube is straight enough, it would be like traveling in outer space with your speed limited only by the need to stop at some point because you’re there.

“How do I get the kids to the bathroom?” asked CBS reporter Barry Petersen.

All you would have to do is push the button that you want to exit at the next available exit and at most, those stops will be 15 minutes apart.

It’s an idea that might have been instantly dismissed as a fantasy if not for the endorsement of the billionaire entrepreneur who helped start PayPal, Tesla, and Space X: Elon Musk.

“You just see a carpet of cars that aren’t moving, and you’re just like, ‘Wow. How much misery is that causing and surely there is something we can do about it,'” said Musk.

Although Musk says he’s too busy to build a “Hyperloop” just now, he is clearly hooked on the idea of a system that could take you from San Francisco to LA in half an hour.

Which would pretty much be the end of the airline business, right? I mean, in the time it takes an airline passenger to get from his car to the gate, the “Hyperloop” could have you from San Francisco to LA and back!

All they have to do is figure out a way to maintain a near-perfect vacuum in a perfectly straight 400-mile pipeline.

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