Elon Musk Unveils Details for 800 MPH Hyperloop Super “Train”

Hyperloop Concept

It’s been sometime since Elon Musk first made mention of the hyperloop. The announcement of the 800 mph ultra high-speed super “train” made big news last year when Musk first mentioned the concept, but we haven’t heard any more details since then. That is until yesterday when Musk released the details of his futuristic concept that cover some of the questions concerning the proposed system.

The key advantages of a tube vs. a railway track are that it can be built above the ground on pylons and it can be built in prefabricated sections that are dropped in place and joined with an orbital seam welder. By building it on pylons, you can almost entirely avoid the need to buy land by following alongside the mostly very straight California Interstate 5 highway, with only minor deviations when the highway makes a sharp turn.

Hyperloop Passenger CapsuleThe comparison made to rail is important to note. This concept only began in the first place as a response to California’ s proposed high-speed rail system. Musk believes the project to be among the most costly and least efficient high-speed transport system, and not innovative enough to represent the silicon valley region.

When the California “high speed” rail was approved, I was quite disappointed, as I know many others were too. How could it be that the home of Silicon Valley and JPL – doing incredible things like indexing all the world’s knowledge and putting rovers on Mars – would build a bullet train that is both one of the most expensive per mile and one of the slowest in the world?

Hyperloop-Alpha

The rail system being referenced is estimated to reach over $100 billion in total cost, meaning that the solar-powered hyperloop would be four times as fast and ten times cheaper than this proposal. One innovation will make this even simpler to use than any currently proposed public transport systems, and that is the ability to also transport personal cars. With this idea, a passenger would simply drive their car into the large pod and drive off at the destination, no messing with rental cars or buses.

There must however, be a downside to every story, and this one is no different. With his time being absorbed by CEO duties at both Tesla Motors and SpaceX, Musk has noted it is unlikely that he will be able to build the system himself. By releasing these plans to the public, he hopes that someone with the resources and know-how will be able to carry the idea forward. In a brief glimpse of hope, Musk hinted that if the idea is not picked up initially, he may build a prototype in the 3-5 year range more than likely.

What is the future of public, high-speed transportation?  Do you think we’ll ever see a hypertube type system in place?

Over 100,000 People Enlist to Colonize Mars

A group over 100,000 people have submitted applications for a one-way trip to colonize Mars in 2022.This means that they are willing to forfeit everything that they know and love for a chance to be the first humans to travel to and cosmoscolonize an alien planet.

There’s something in that concept that’s majestic and kind of poetic, in a way that they are writing human history and taking huge risks to do so. Mars One is behind the project, and when asked on their FAQ, “Why go to Mars?” they responded as follows.

Why did Columbus travel west? Why did Marco Polo head east? Because it is that pull, that unknown, that prospect of adventure that compels humans to seek new frontiers to explore.

It does seem a part of the human condition to explore the unknown, and there are certainly viable reasons for expanding human life to other planetary bodies, but is it even possible, and will Mars One actually be able to pay for such a mission?

The not-for-profit organization plans to fund the $6 billion mission “by making it the biggest media spectacle in history”. This includes reality shows that will follow the astronauts’ eight year training that will teach them medical Mars Oneprocedures, construction and repair, and gardening techniques among many other necessary skills.

 

 

 

These shows will continue as the explorers land and begin developing a livable habitat. I would certainly watch that over the reality t.v. that is currently available, but I’m doubtful that it would be enough to fund the mission. They do have other sources from donations, merchandise sales, application fees, investors, and so on, but let’s just hope that it is enough to get this idea off of the ground.

There are other companies and even universities that are working on similar concepts. Elon Musk, CEO of SpaceX has mentioned future plans for “Martian bases” and has already made significant progress in private spaceflight.

Would you sign-up to colonize Mars? If the answer is yes, sign-up, applications are still being taken.

UK Scientists’ Plan to Put Humans on Mars

Marstronaut

A recent BBC article details an in-depth conceptual project from scientists at Imperial College London to put the first humans on Mars. This concept is intended to illustrate our current progress towards inter-planetary space travel, as well as the challenges and risks that we must still overcome.

The spacecraft will be designed to rotate in such a way that the 3 person crew of “Marstronauts” could enjoy the resulting artificial gravity. This would help with bone and muscle mass loss, and help the re-orientation of the crew to a life on Mars. The craft could slow its rotation to match the Martian rate of roughly 40% of the Earth’s gravitational  pull.

“There are big, big jumps between a demonstration at one level and putting together the engineering systems for a mission, but they are engineering challenges. They are not fundamentally about making new discoveries.” – Professor Tom Pike

This short video has some great visualizations of the spacecraft design and landing scenario along with some good descriptions of the concepts involved.

“Real life Tony Stark” Elon Musk, CEO of SpaceX and Tesla Motors, is working on similar goals for transporting humans to Mars. For Musk, electric vehicles and a Hyperloop super-train are just the beginning in his quest to push the boundaries of science and technology.

His company SpaceX is taking the concept of manned Mars missions to the next level. They envision human exploration and colonization, and quite literally “backing up the biosphere”.

The rockets we’re building right now could certainly send probes to Mars, like the Mars rovers and that kind of thing, but the rockets we hope to build in the future are the ones that could take people and cargo to Mars and establish a Martian base.

Seeing these projects starting to gain legitimacy is an exciting thing to behold. The general public is starting to get behind these ideas, and private space flight is gaining in popularity and capability. There’s no telling what the future holds for Mars colonization, but it should be an exciting thing to watch.

Why Do We Explore Space?

This short energetic video by Jason Silva asks the question, “Why do we explore space?”.  Silva among others believe that it is our desire to expand our consciousness. By seeking new horizons we develop new expectations of what the world is and what it can be.

I feel as we explore into the far reaches of the universe, we’re also delving deeper into ourselves. We’re questioning where we came from, what our future holds, and the laws that govern what lies in-between.

When we keep pushing beyond all limits, when we get to Kubrick’s “Beyond the Infinite”, the place where dreams are born…through the wormhole, down the rabbit hole… It’s glorious!

I like these shots of awe because they are short, energetic, positive jolts of futuristic philosophy. They’re a way to experience awe in compact form, and best of all it’s easy to share with others. I Hope you enjoyed.

When we dream of space, we dream of transcendence, we dream of what we might become.

First Successful Auditory Brainstem Implant

First Sound

After receiving the first auditory brain stem implant, Grayson has a great reaction to hearing his father’s voice for the first time. I love the possibility that with rising technology, sight sound and overall health will be a human-born right.

This video does a great job detailing the condition and the implant process, the reaction begins around the 2:15 mark.

Advanced Artificial Intelligence has the IQ of a Preschooler

AI

Are you waiting for Rosie the Robot to be your own personal maid? Are you ready to send your robot sidekick to get your errands done while you catch up on critical napping time? If you’re anything like me, these concepts are very appealing but just… not… close… enough!

There is room for hope however; an advanced AI system known as ConceptNet4, has been recently tested and shown to have the IQ of a 4-year-old child. This doesn’t get very many people excited, but I think it should. Michio Kaku, a famous theoretical physicist, stated in 2010 that a.i. is currently at the level of a cockroach…

A mentally challenged cockroach; a lobotomized, mentally challenged cockroach.These cockroaches take about six hours to walk across the room.  They enter a room.  They see lines, circles, squares, triangles, but they don’t know the fact that they’re looking at chairs, desks, tables, people, lamps.  They see better than us.  They don’t know what they are seeing.  Also they hear better than us, but they don’t understand what they are hearing.

To think that in three years we have progressed from cockroach to 4-year-old child is pretty amazing. It is important to note that the system is not as fully intelligent as a normal child of this age. Its knowledge is greatly varied and lacks “common sense” and experience-gained knowledge. That being said, this level of a.i. is a new peak in a field with rising interest from scientists and businesses alike.

“Artificial intelligence has been getting exponentially smarter for decades, and some technologists even believe the singularity — the point when machine intelligence will overtake humans — is near. Along the way, we’ve seen the trivia-playing computer Watson trounced trivia maven Ken Jennings at Jeopardy, and chess program Deep Blue eventually beat chess master Gary Kasparov in 1997.” – Robert Sloan

The Singularity -The Inexplicable Future of Humans and Technology

The singularity is a term borrowed from physics by Google’s chief engineer, Ray Kurzweil. The meaning in physics relates to the point inside of a black hole at which the laws of physics have completely broken down. Kurzweil’s definition refers to a point in the future at which technology has increased to such a high level that it is not possible to perceive a difference between technology and humanity.

Imagine a time in the future that has changed so much that, like physical laws in a black hole, life as we know it to be ceases to exist, and life begins anew in a completely different context. This is similar to the point in our evolution when language developed… try explaining to a non-lingual, pre-human the verses of Shakespeare, or the verses of Jay-Z for that matter.

The life expectancy was 20, 1,000 years ago, we doubled it in 200 years. This will go into high gear within 10 and 20 years from now, probably less than 15, we will be reaching that tipping point where we add more time than has gone by because of scientific progress.”…Based on conservative estimates of the amount of computation you need to functionally simulate a human brain, we’ll be able to expand the scope of our intelligence a billion-fold.” – Ray Kurzweil

Beginning is Near

The most amazing part is the time-frame that is projected. By Kurzweil’s estimates based on the exponential leaps shown by Moore’s Law, we may reach this tech-haven by 2045. So that’s all there is to it… hold on for 32 more years and it’s all virtual reality gravy. I’ll leave you with this by Friedrich Nietzsche…

“Man is something that shall be overcome…. Man is a rope, tied between beast and overman — a rope over an abyss… What is great in man is that he is a bridge and not an end.”

NASA Successfully Tests 3D Printed Rocket Engine Component

3d-printed Rocket Engine

So those kids over at NASA have been pretty busy. This time taking 3D printing even further, NASA has announced they’ve successfully tested a rocket engine fuel injector made using the new technology.

By using a specific technique called selective laser melting (SLM), they were able to cut the manufacturing time down from one year to four months, and reduce the cost by over 70%.

“Nasa recognises that on Earth and potentially in space, additive manufacturing can be game-changing for new mission opportunities, significantly reducing production time and cost by ‘printing’ tools, engine parts or even entire spacecraft” –  Michael Gazar

The term “additive manufacturing” refers to building a product from the ground up using the specific materials and quantities needed. On top of the benefits stated above, this technology also drastically reduces the amount of waste by-product.

Hit the link for more information on NASA’s successful test, as well as a competition from General Electric to create the best design for a 3D printed engine bracket.