back to article I've got a verbal govt contract for Hyperloop, claims His Muskiness

The world's best business self-publicist since Richard Branson reckons he has been given a "verbal contract" to build an unrealistic high-speed tube train system across America. His Muskiness (for it is he) tweeted it yesterday. The announcement was met by a furious fanfare of retweets and likes on the 140-character-nugget …

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Facepalm

Please complete this sentence Elon:

"A verbal contract isn't worth --- ----- ---- ------ --."

He reminds me of Lyle Lanley the monorail guy in The Simpsons.

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Re: Please complete this sentence Elon:

It's more a Shelbyville idea.

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Re: Please complete this sentence Elon:

Is there a chance the track could bend?

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Alert

Re: Please complete this sentence Elon:

But Main Street's still all cracked and broken!

Seriously though - America has a large infrastructure problem that will eventually doom us if we don't start doing something about it soon. We need to fix the existing roads, bridges, tunnels, airports, and train tracks before we invest in what's basically an oversized pneumatic tube system for people. (Which is more of a Futurama thing anyways.)

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Trollface

@Snorlax ... Re: Please complete this sentence Elon:

A verbal contract may or may not have value.

A 'verbal' government contract has no value.

Maybe he was talking to Gov. Brown of California. Now that's a contract you can use as a spring board to bounce off of.

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Re: Please complete this sentence Elon:

Monorails actually work reall well if you do them properly.

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Re: Please complete this sentence Elon:

Who says only people would be able to use it?

It would make a dandy cargo transport.

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Re: Please complete this sentence Elon:

...the paper it's written on.

Groucho Marx

I was wondering if someone would remember it, and I see it's in the first post!

EDIT: It turns out my memory is wrong. The quote is attributed to Samuel Goldwyn, but in fact, he said of a trustworthy colleague that "His verbal contract is worth more than the paper it's written on", which later got garbled into the incorrect quote.

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Re: @Snorlax ... Please complete this sentence Elon:

"Maybe he was talking to Gov. Brown of California. Now that's a contract you can use as a spring board to bounce off of."

Yeah, when you consider the current "crazy train" nonsense that "2nd time around Brown' is wasting cali-fornicate-you tax dollars on, AND all of the "tax tax tax" legislation being crammed through sacramento at this VERY MOMENT, for no other reason than to make Demo-rats more powerful, and pay off their cronies, etc. etc. and MUSK must be one of those cronies...

Elon - stop using GUMMINT for a REVENUE SOURCE. It _WILL_ come back to BITE YOU IN THE ASS!!!

[when illegal alien (and other) voter fraud STOPS in calii-fornicate-you, I think the Demo-rats may lose their "majority" - I can't understand HOW things got the way they are [really really bad] without THAT as an explanation]

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errrr... if there is a problem on an airplane it is likely everyone on board will die... should we stop all flights too?

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Likely to die, but not certainly

Not all airplane accidents end with 100% death. And with a Sullenberger, not even one. Whereas if the maglev goes blooey, really, so does everyone aboard.

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@deive:"errrr... if there is a problem on an airplane it is likely everyone on board will die... should we stop all flights too?"

The derp is strong in this one...

Are you one of those people who points at airplanes passing overhead in wonderment and disbelief at mankind's hubris?

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A bomb or similar problem on a Hyperloop would probably be as devastating to the vehicle as one on a plane, and even more so to the support infrastructure, so I presume the "29 minute" journey will have 2 hours of security theatre and 30 minutes wait in baggage claim added to it? An ordinary high-speed train would probably be faster overall.

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More importantly I can come up with several failure modes (some of which seem quite likely in the US) which don't result in instant death for someone right next to it, let alone 200 miles away on the same track...

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Boffin

Not a great way of phrasing it, but I agree. Most of the failure modes can be factored. Maglev loses power/breaks somehow... have wheels on the bottom of the pods which can support the pod (and slow it down) for the required distance - they don't need to support it fully at high speed (aerodynamic lift) and if the wheels are unserviceable afterwards, who cares?

Depressurisation of the tube? Well, it'll slow down the pod, but the aerodynamics will be more effective so not necessarily much more vertical loading. The pods will be able to move at low speed anyway, otherwise how will they cope in the stations?

Cracks in the track? It can float over them (better than conventional trains!)

et cetera, et cetera.

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I presume the "29 minute" journey will have 2 hours of security theatre and 30 minutes wait in baggage claim added to it?

Good point. There are quite a few long-ish distance UK journeys that I prefer to make by rail, or even road, rather the supposedly faster air travel option. Once you add in the faff-factors, high-speed travel is quite often not that fast overall

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Pint

JR shot "...let alone 200 miles away on the same track..."

Actually, one fairly detailed and seemingly plausible analysis found on an informed and skeptical-thinkers website (video?) indicates that any catastrophic depressurization will lead to a wall of 1 Atmosphere air rushing into the previously-vacuum tube, the shock wave slamming into all vehicles in the same section, leading directly to fatal level of pod-vehicle acceleration. Presumably distance would have little effect, since the shock wave would propagate quite happily along the tube for a very long distance.

This is just one of a whole laundry list of "challenges".

Possible solution - they could open valves to release air into the tube to dissipate the shock wave before it propagates that far.

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Sadly, I think the security problem will also be the main obstacle preventing the contruction of a space elevator, even when we have materials of sufficient tensile strength.

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> Depressurisation of the tube? Well, it'll slow down the pod,

You may want to check your math there. Unless you mean it will slow down the pod in the same way that coming into contact with a mountain will slow down a plane.

That is really the engineering deal breaker for this technology safely conveying passengers. Using tunnels is clever because it solves three other challenges.

1. The need for a direct route with only the gentlest imaginable corners. I've also include hills as part of this issue.

2. The need to deal with thermal expansion whilst maintaining air tight seals.

3. Having to deal with drunk idiots taking pot shots at the tube out the back of Nowheresville. I also include genuine accidents which could compromise part of the track or its supporting pillars.

At least underground, it is less likely to have to go around things (1), will remain at a predictable temperature (2), and is unlikely to be in close proximity to (3). What isn't solved is seismic activity. Now before anyone jumps in and points out something about the proposed route being away from the plate boundaries, you wouldn't need a large event to break the air seal or the track alignment. Elon is the best person in the world to perfect this* but what is needed here is a demonstration of solutions to the things we know to be current deal breakers.

*having a volcano lair clearly endows a level of expertise in the subject.

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"...A bomb or similar problem on a Hyperloop would probably be as devastating to the vehicle as one on a plane, and even more so to the support infrastructure, so I presume the "29 minute" journey will have 2 hours of security theatre and 30 minutes wait in baggage claim added to it? An ordinary high-speed train would probably be faster overall..."

Hmm you are probably spot on there. Traditionally, bombs in tunnels aren't that effective at causing major damage to the infrastructure - the blast basically passes outwards along the tunnel but with these presumably being closed-in segments that would no longer be true.

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Re: JR shot "...let alone 200 miles away on the same track..."

Yes he scenario they described of a devastating 1 atmosphere pressure wave travelling a long way through the tube is far from plausible as the engineering required to counter it is so trivial. If a material pressure gradient occurs in the tube just bleed a bit of air into sections downstream. This will both act as a shock absorber between the cars and slow them down.

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Re: JR shot "...let alone 200 miles away on the same track..."

> Yes he scenario they described of a devastating 1 atmosphere pressure wave travelling a long way through the tube is far from plausible as the engineering required to counter it is so trivial.

Trivial? Back of the envelope math. The speed of the air molecules entering a vacuum are in the order of 500m/s. That is about double the cruising speed of a 747. Perhaps if the failure occurred 250km+ away, you would have time to apply the emergency brakes in the pod and safely repressurise the tunnel at a safe rate. If you're close though, you're screwed. If the failure was caused by say a seismic event, you may have to deal with power outages and damaged pumps etc as well. None of which bodes well for a fast but safe repressurisation.

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"to build an unrealistic high-speed tube train system across America"

Unrealistic? If all inventors, researchers, scientists had that outlook we'd still be in the caves.

(I don't say that HL is realistic. I just think that we need to invest a lot more time and brainpower to find out. Who would've thought when the first transistor was cobbled together what would come out of that? Not to talk about laser or indeed the ARPAnet...)

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Unusually, I'd prefer that we didn't sit and talk about it for twentyteen years (I'm looking at you, UK.Gov), and just let him build it. Sometimes you have to eat a pot noodle in order to realise just how merde it is.

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I've said it before - a lot of Elon Musk's ideas are pie in the sky, but if we don't aim for that, we'll keep making small incremental steps. Something from his ideas will work in a real word setting and may revolutionise part of our lives or our planet and that has to be a good thing.

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I think the main reason people are calling BS on the Hyperloop is that there are a lot of technical hurdles to overcome which they haven't really shown their workings for yet.

It's very easy to sound like a Victorian train-skeptic about this, but I'm not convinced that they've figured out solutions to the problem of rapid repressurisation (huge scale evacuated tubes not being all that easy to maintain), coping with temperate-change induced expansion of the above-ground tube type of HL, and how to safely protect the rather squishy occupants from rapid decceleration in the event of a mechanical problem.

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rapid repressurisation

I've been at a rail conference where one of his snake oil sales men discussed this, they have to their credit thought about that. The intent is the long pipes stay depressurised, except for maintenance and the trains will be airlocked in and out. No idea if it'll work, but that's the idea.

What he wouldn't tell us all is how they'll do switches (points since we're in the UK) and crossings - he kept saying they had "ideas" for junctions. If you want more than just a stop at each end, and no one wants a pipe that doesn't stop near there town, you need to get the stopped trains out the way of the one behind, or run a very infrequent service.

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Re: rapid repressurisation

points - you run overland from the main terminus. or a road. or a bus

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Holmes

Will We Ever Learn...

In the beginning, Google was almost universally liked and admired!

Now, someone of the same type wants to rip america a new one and run train in it...

Please, learn from history!

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Musk thrives on Welfare

Musk wants to suck on the Public teat to finance his ideas.

It would be fine if he were to privately finance his train.

Everything he is doing is heavily subsidized by Public funds.

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While I agree with your sentiement

the issues that something like this will have in the USA are on a totally different scale to say, the sort of problems that HS2 has had.

Each state will more than likely impose its own standards on H-L.

Each state will need huge [cough-cough] backhanders before any bills allowing this to proceed even get a hearing

Then there are the hundreds of thousands of NIMBY's that will file suit if anything new comews within 5 miles of their home. Just go and read up on the noise levels that Vermot is imposing on Wind Power if you don't believe me. -43DbA is almost silent. That will kill off all Wind Power development in VT. Now take that NIH and NIMBY and apply it to a possible route between NYC/DC and LA.

Back when the railways were being laid across the continent no one cared about the ownership of the land it was passing over. Things are very, very different these days.

I forsee that unless there is a change in the Constitution the Lawyers will tie any Transcontinental H-L project up in a leagal morass for the next 20-30 years.

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Pint

SD3 mentioned " -43DbA is almost silent."

Yes, "-43 DbA" [you meant dBA] would be the quietist thing ever. Impossibly quiet, quite literally.

But +43 dBA is merely fairly quiet.

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Re: SD3 mentioned " -43DbA is almost silent."

Sorry, a typo. +43DbA

One pro-Wind campaigner did a test at a public meeting. The Sound of the Aircon in an otherwise silent room exceeded the new limits for Wind Turbines in VT. Political Stupidity at its best.

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Re: rapid repressurisation

When Musk was teasing the press about Hyperloop some guy guessed that it was a big loop with maglev and air or some other gas mix like heliox flowing around in a big loop at high speed with the pod moving not that quickly (relatively) through it.

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SpaceX vs Hyperloop.

Space X was expensive and niche, not impossible. Hyperloop is near impossible. So while some things can be done by pushing the boundaries, other things have hard limits, or hardly practical solutions.

See for example the changes made to the Space X plans when reality, or lack of desire (no market, or plain old safety concerns and learning curves) mean doing it the old/easy way is often the only choice.

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Are you forgetting that IK Brunel already tried this? And if HE couldn't make it work then it isn't possible.

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verbal contract

As far as I know, all contracts are verbal. An oral contract, now, has no legal standing that I have ever heard of.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: verbal contract

I wouldn't want to give/receive oral to/from any government member

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Re: verbal contract

If you read through his tweet, he's asking his followers to contact their elected representatives to show their support for the idea. This would tend to suggest that he's got nothing concrete from the government...

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Suzi Perry, gorgeous woman who presents the motorbikes in the UK and what not, agreed to marry me when I tweeted asking her to marry me. The proviso being that she'd marry me when Wolverhampton Wanderers (her football team) won the Premiership.

Now, the difference between this and Mr.Musk is that Suzi wrote down her agreement in a tweet. That's a lot more than what he's got, and yet both promises I feel will be broken.

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"...and yet both promises I feel will be broken..."

To be fair...I suspect it will be your football team that break the promise first. Well, every time.

Forever.

:)

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"To be fair...I suspect it will be your football team that break the promise first. Well, every time."

I've more sense than to follow Wolves! They're her team, not mine.

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"In addition," concluded Oldham, "travelling at those speeds means that any fault in the system would mean everyone on board would die."

While I share a lot of the scepticism about this latest tweet, I would like to point out that the objection above is exactly the same argument that greeted the early railway pioneers like George Stephenson.

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Holmes

Back then, there were Guessing or God.

They are still there, but now we also know about Kinetic Energy!

Quote:

"Most car accidents happen because the driver fails to stop in time!"

James May

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"While I share a lot of the scepticism about this latest tweet, I would like to point out that the objection above is exactly the same argument that greeted the early railway pioneers like George Stephenson."

I would like to point out that

1. the objections against Stephenson et al were raised by people who knew nothing about high speed travel (19th century style) because there was no high speed travel yet, while the objection you object to was uttered by an actual mechanical engineer living in the 21st century.

2. Rocket's top speed of 47 km/h vs Hyperloop's (proposed) top speed of some 1125 km/h - do the math regarding the kinetic energy involved. Very little room for screwups in the Hyperloop tube.

Exactly the same argument?

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Can we stop using the 'They said...' argument?

We have examples of similar technology to draw comparisons with, something the naysayers of yore did not. There are many and various very real engineering problems with the proposed HyperLoop system, and enthusiasm alone will not surmount them. HL will be incredibly expensive to build and maintain, and it's the latter part that concerns me the most if it does get built, that it will be so expensive it will be abandoned.

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Musk's plan won't happen in the US because, frankly, he'll never get a suitable right of way. Hyperloop will require an even straighter track than high-speed rail. And the fastest passenger train in the US, the Acela, hits its 130 mph (if that) peak speed on only a few short stretches. Mostly it putters along on 19th century tracks just as slowly as everything else. Land between NY and Washington is all very expensive. The 1950s highway boom required the condemnation of a lot of land, which was expensive at 1950s values when much of it was still farmland. Now that has largely, thanks to the highways, become suburban sprawl. (The US has virtually unbroken sprawl all the way from Virginia to Maine, suburbs interrupted by cities.) And eminent domain takings are far far rarer than they used to be, and harder. So laying out a super-straight path is about as likely as building an elevator to orbit. At least that only has to overcome the laws of physics.

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This. Boring hundreds of miles of tunnels through widely varying geology is not exactly an inexpensive or easy undertaking. (Even if he develops a magical tunnel-boring machine, you still have to truck away all that volume of dirt/rock you are boring through.)

There's a reason rail systems run on the surface whenever possible; bridges and tunnels are difficult, expensive, and maintenance-intensive.

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Pint

"...an even straighter track than high-speed rail."

FG offered, "...require an even straighter track than high-speed rail."

Yes, like the wide open spaces and endless flat plains of mid-1960s downtown Japan.

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