by Vaclav Smil
Photo: Universal Images Group/Getty ImagesWilliam Heath's 1829 engraving pokes fun at a vacuum tube that conveys travelers from London to Bengal.
Source: https://spectrum.ieee.org/hyperloop-is-hyper-old Accessed: 2021-12-02
Source: https://spectrum.ieee.org/hyperloop-is-hyper-old Accessed: 2021-12-02outside East Asia, maglev remained nothing but a curiosity until 2012, when Elon Musk put his spin on it.
People unaware of this long history greeted the hyperloop as stunningly original and fabulously transformative. A decade later we have many route proposals, and many companies engaged in testing and design, but not a single commercial application that can demonstrate that this is an affordable, profitable, reliable, and widely replicable travel option. Vacuum physicists and railway engineers, who best appreciate the challenges involved in such projects, have pointed out a long list of fundamental difficulties that must be overcome before public-carrying vacuum tubes could be as common as steel-wheel high-speed rail.
Before rushing to buy shares in a hyperloop venture in 2022, remember the 1825 London and Edinburgh Vacuum Tunnel Company.