posted on Feb, 15 2005 @ 01:11 PM
As a kid I saw a vintage mid-60's movie (anyone know the title?) where military scientists had to be whisked away quickly cross-country to a remote
lab. The transporation they used was a supersonic, underground vacuum tube 'train'. Ever since then I have often pondered if this were feasible or
maybe even already in existence for the government/military.
From what I've gathered from years of technology publications and documentaries related to Mag-Lev transportation, I can see the how the capability
Let's assume you have a continous underground tube running from Los Angeles to New York that can maintain a near-perfect vacuum (if I remember, space
is the only perfect vacuum).
Through the length of the tube, localized sections of the inner wall are energized for magnetic polarization to provide levitation and momentum to the
'tube vehicle' as it makes it way through the tube.
At the origination point, the 'tube vehicle' would be loaded with its cargo or passengers. The loading platform would then move the vehicle into
the 'Breach' of the tube through an airlock onto 'launch brackets' to provide initial support until Vacuum Pressure and Mag Lev is initiated.
Once the launch 'atmosphere' is reached, the sections of polarized cells of the tube wall begin to fire in sequence to initiate forward momentum.
Each successive section of cells begin to fire in faster and faster sequences until the desired speed is reached.
For human passengers, the momentum would begin at a slow G-rate for comfort and physiological concerns. For inanimate and non-volatile cargo, less
concern for G-rate load would be required.
Theoretically, since the vehicle runs in a near-vacuum using true mag lev (no physical contact between vehicle and tube), there should be little or no
drag impact on the vehicle, and minimal vibration within the vehicle. Of course this should work out great if the tube were perfectly straight. To
counteract some the G-Forces encountered by occupants or payload when encountering curves or slopes, the occupied inner-compartment of the vehicle
would have its own multi-axial suspension to the outershell of the vehicle allowing for natural, centrifugal, adjustment of pitch and yaw - like a
swiveling boat cup-holder. As the vehicle approaches its destination, polarized cells of the tube wall begin firing short 'bursts' of opposing
polarization forward of the vehicle while propelling polarization sequences are idled.
Ok time for the wake up and smell the real world. This concept works out on paper but there are obvious obstacles:
1. Construction Cost - just for building a tube this size at this length (forget about Mag Lev or Vacuum) would certainly be in the Billions.
2. Energy - the power infrastructure required to engergize the Mag Lev cells and provide Vacuum Pressure would be at least as expensive as the tube
itself. It would be highly inefficient, if not impossible, to supply vacuum pressure and energy to polarization cells from only the ends of the tube.
Several auxillary installations would be required along the line to provide these necessary 'ingredients'.
3. Automation - certainly the technology to rapidly sequence Mag Lev polarization is already in use in some European and Japanese train systems.
Running one vehicle through the tube at a time to only one destination shouldn't be a huge hassle but adding workload for 'branch' tubes to other
destinations for multiple vehicles would be challenging. Denver's new Airport has just recently perfected their automated baggage system using
similar 'switching' logic after nearly 10 years of troubleshooting.
4. Real Estate - where's the land going to come from to run the line? I have often wondered for years why the medians of Interstates were never
used for either rail or infrastructure purposes. Why not put the tube under the median of an existing Interstate system wherever possible?
5. Safety - Ralph Nader would have a field day on this one (no offense to you Green Party members). Certainly for any viable passenger transit
paradigm to exist within this concept, extraordinary safety precautions would have to be in place to slow and rest the vehicle in case of power
failure or loss of vacuum pressure along the tube. While not impossible, this in itself would require hundreds of millions of dollars just in the
6. Consumer Cost - Certainly the initial passenger/payload costs would be extremely high to recover the R&D and Construction Costs. However, in its
infancy, there would be a specialty market most likely in the form of the "gotta get there" crowd. Sort of a subterranean Concorde.
I have plenty more specific considerations on this concept that include, muliple vehicles, multiple-interconnected tubes, traffic control, etc but
this post has already run on too long.
Please give me your feedback on whether my science behind my concept is even accurate. I'm basing everything on differeing sources of information
that I'm melding together.