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May 12, 2016

Scientists see supersonic hyperloop trains as way of the future

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Essential question

How does a person become an innovative thinker?


Imagine being able to make an otherwise six hour car trip in just about 30 minutes. That is the goal researchers hope to make reality through hyperloop technology.

Hyperloop is a super-fast form of transportation somewhat like a combination between a bullet train and the pneumatic tubes you find at drive-up teller windows at banks. Although the concept has existed for more than a century, public interest has only recently led to funding opportunities for development.

Since the hyperloop operates within a tube, there is less resistance and objects can travel at supersonic speeds. Magnetic levitation also allows the cars to be more aerodynamic.

California currently has plans to build a high-speed rail line between San Francisco and Los Angeles that will reach top speeds of 220 miles per hour, a fraction of the hyperloop’s expected speed.

Los Angeles-based startup Hyperloop One leads the new field and has acquired $100 million in investments to develop the technology.

“It’s going to be absolutely turbulence-free. It’s going to be smooth. We’re talking grandma-friendly, dog-friendly, child-friendly,” said Brogan BamBrogan, co-founder and chief technology officer for Hyperloop One. “You get in, and you arrive at your destination.”


Key terms

propulsion — the action of driving or pushing forward

pneumatic — containing or operated by air or gas under pressure

supersonic — any speed that exceeds the speed of sound, or Mach 1

Warm up questions (before watching the video)
  1. What does STEM stand for? What about STEAM?
  2. What are some of the challenges associated with high-speed trains in the U.S.?
  3. What comes to mind when you hear the terms supersonic hyperloop or pneumatic train?
Critical thinking questions (after watching the video)
  1. Do you think the hyperloop will become a reality? Why or why not?
  2. If you’re a financial investor, would you consider investing in the hyperloop? Explain your answer.
  3. If given the opportunity, would you ride the hyperloop? Why or why not?
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