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Chinese MagLev Train Opens Next Week 392

lupa1420 writes "The Guardian reports on the launch next week of the world's fastest train, 430kph, in China, which uses magnetic levitation technology. Includes instructions on how to make your own maglev demo at home."
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Chinese MagLev Train Opens Next Week

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  • by Dilbert_ ( 17488 ) on Thursday January 15, 2004 @09:36AM (#7984587) Homepage
    I'm no expert on magnetic levitation, but won't the fields totally screw with any electronic device in or near the train? Laptop hard-drives, PDA-memory, IPod disk...
    Or is there an obvious and easy way to shield that stuff?

    • by Dak_x ( 632526 ) on Thursday January 15, 2004 @09:38AM (#7984604)
      THere has to be a way to shield it - otherwise the onboard computer systems would not work...
    • by Sklivvz ( 167003 ) * <`marco.cecconi' `at' `gmail.com'> on Thursday January 15, 2004 @09:43AM (#7984646) Homepage Journal
      I'm not sure and I could be grossly mistaken, but a RF shield [wikipedia.org] would sure be enough. I cite from Wikipedia:
      "RF shielding is the protection of sensitive electrical equipment from external radiofrequency (RF) electromagnetic radiation by enclosing it in a conducting material. RF shielding is a refinement of the principle of the Faraday cage, which protects equipment from electric fields such as those from electrostatic discharges."
    • by Timesprout ( 579035 ) on Thursday January 15, 2004 @09:46AM (#7984671)
      Theres not much risk to your harware. Each carriage comes with its own SVMC system (Super Villan Magneto Clone). Your toys will be safe but you might end up as a mutant.
    • by Anonymous Coward
      The interior of the train must be shielded. Otherwise all those computer-gimmicks inside will die at once. Also all our old politicians with cardiac pacemaker would be dead by now, because they liked it to took a ride on the test-trak in the Emsland (North-West Germany).

    • I think the fields are generated by the track, and they move at the rate the train moves. I don't think they are high frequency.

      I would worry more about them affecting Ferro-Magnetic devices like Hard Drives. But intensity of field decreases with the square of distance. So just hold your laptops up over your head.

      So, I actually thing the EM radiation will be low powered because it is low frequency.

  • by Anonymous Coward
    Cunning population control device? You make the call!
  • hmmmmm (Score:2, Funny)

    So no more squishing coins on train tracks for them. Screw that new train, bring back the internation pastime!
  • by jpatokal ( 96361 ) * on Thursday January 15, 2004 @09:43AM (#7984642) Homepage
    Yes, you have [slashdot.org] seen this on Slashdot before [slashdot.org], the difference is that now it's open to the public and running regularly... although it actually started to do that back in October [wangjianshuo.com], and even the official opening was two weeks ago [taipeitimes.com].

    Alas, the maglev's official home page [smttc.com] (I think; at least they sell tickets) is all Chinese and out of date to boot. In the meantime, the best place to go is Wangjianshuo's blog [wangjianshuo.com], in particular the well-illustrated Maglev in depth [wangjianshuo.com] story.

    Things that suck about the maglev:

    • It only runs every half hour, which kind of defeats the point of having a superfast train.
    • Tickets cost 75 RMB (~$9) a pop, this in a country where 800 RMB a month is considered a decent wage.
    • It doesn't go into the city, you have to transfer to a subway and ride another 6 stops just to get on the Puxi side of the river.
    Not that any of this will stop me from going for a ride next time I'm in Shanghai!


    • "Maglev in depth" in parent is a fake link that goes to a picture of a rocket just taking off of its pad. Too bad, as I was looking for a real Maglev in depth article :(
    • Why does only running every half hour defeat the point of a superfast train? You have to plan your day a little but it still means you spend much less time on the train than if it pootled along at 100kph.
    • Stupid maglev... (Score:5, Informative)

      by Enoch Root ( 57473 ) on Thursday January 15, 2004 @10:21AM (#7984957)
      This thing looks amazing, but I think it was only built for rich businessmen wanting to feel important as they zip from their luxury hotel suite in Pudong to the airport.

      I had friends over for Christmas in Shanghai, and we all planed to ride the maglev when they left. Thing is, the cost is not only prohibitive for locals - it's also ridiculous to charge 75 RMB per person, when you consider a taxi ride from Puxi is approximately 180 RMB. Cram 4 people in a taxi, and you get there for half the price. (And considering how the taxis drive in SH, thrice the excitement!)

      I also heard you can get 'luxury' tickets for 150 RMB/person. Why you wouldn't endure an 'economy' ticket considering the ride takes 20 minutes and is bumpless, is, well, not entirely beyond me considering how people will pay for such useless nonsense.

      In the end, we took a cab to the airport, and as the driver was driving down the highway at 120 km/h, we saw the maglev zip by us as if we were immobile. It looked like something out of Star Trek... Damn impressive... from the outside.
      • it's also ridiculous to charge 75 RMB per person, when you consider a taxi ride from Puxi is approximately 180 RMB.

        You can say the same about taking a train to London. From Leicester it costs less than half the cost of a train ticket to take a taxi assuming you share with three other people. But then you are stuck in a taxi with three people for the whole journey and it takes longer. People pay ludicrous rail prices because it is quicker and normally their company is paying the expenses anyway.


      • Re:Stupid maglev... (Score:4, Informative)

        by WindBourne ( 631190 ) on Thursday January 15, 2004 @12:08PM (#7986108) Journal
        This thing looks amazing, but I think it was only built for rich businessmen wanting to feel important as they zip from their luxury hotel suite in Pudong to the airport.

        Not really.
        China is a very large country with a not so great infrastructure. They are now in the process of trying to decide how to do build it and how to do it best. This is a test bed for a much longer system (thousands of kilometers). Just as the USA built the highways (which help make our economy), they are thinking that for a long haul of using these, with biking in local commute.

        To be honest, I think that China is doing it right. The USA is afraid of making an investment into this, yet it is killing us not to do so. We use the roads, but our traffic is at 60 Miles/hour (100 kph) which is actually damn slow today. If we built one of these, we would see the advantage of it and move rapidly to it.

        If the government could get past their hog trough, they would realize that the best place to put is from New York to milwaukee via pit, detroit, and chicago. The airlines, ships, buses, rail, and trucks make more money on this route than any other going (save NY to LA). Yet it is a small route.

        The only other good route would be S.D. to LA to S.F.. But not as much moves there as between the first route.
    • The main reason to build it is to test if it sucks. There is a big debate in China whether the country's high speed (250+km/h) railway network should adopt the try-and-true wheeled solution or go for maglev. The main project needs to build 1000+km of new tracks (from Beijing to Shanghai, and possibly extended to Guangzhou in the south).

      Unconfirmed news report last week suggests that the government favours the wheeled solution, mainly due to cost and connectivity with the existing network.

    • The Maglev technology has been around for over a decade as an experimental track somewhere in Germany.

      This is the worlds first "Commercial" Maglev train.

      The next step is the development of vacuum tunnels which can be anchored to the seabed. You'd be able to run a maglev train at hypersonic speed as there is no air friction. The only factor limiting the trains speed is how quickly you can accelerate the train without making the passengers sick.

      A transatlantic crossing could be one in under an hour.
  • is it possible? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by KingJoshi ( 615691 ) <slashdot@joshi.tk> on Thursday January 15, 2004 @09:45AM (#7984660) Homepage
    how feasible is a maglev system in the US? yeah, it's a pipe dream, but imagine...

    Boston to NYC. LA to San Fran. maybe even a network of the major cities.

    As it is now, it's cheaper and sometimes faster to take Greyhound than Amtrack! The US spent so much on railroad tracks and most aren't used anymore. Sure the costs would be expensive, but would it be worth it if some of those tracks were replaced to support maglevs?
    • Re:is it possible? (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward
      Not possible since the 50s. American Labour has essentially priced itself out of the market. No more new stuff, it's too expensive!
    • Re:is it possible? (Score:3, Informative)

      by battjt ( 9342 )
      As it is now, it's cheaper and sometimes faster to take Greyhound than Amtrack!

      As it is now, it is cheaper to rent a car to travel Fort Wayne to Detriot than to take a bus! (and there isn't train service)


    • by AKnightCowboy ( 608632 ) on Thursday January 15, 2004 @10:02AM (#7984793)
      Boston to NYC. LA to San Fran. maybe even a network of the major cities.

      And instead of magnetic waves to levitate the trains we could use air! Imagine fast moving flying buses that could carry hundreds of passengers at a time from coast to coast in a matter of hours. A pipe dream surely, but just imagine the possibilities. A businessman in NYC could wake up in the morning, drive to some sort of aero bus depot and be transported through the air to California in 3 or 4 hours! These things and more will be possible in the fabulous future world of tomorrowland! :-)

      • Re:is it possible? (Score:3, Insightful)

        by KingJoshi ( 615691 )
        The article did say that these used 5 times less power then Boeing planes. And if we're just using the same land on the dead train tracks, then we're not hurting the environment more, I assume.

        The fact is, we have an Amtrak service that's rarely used, overpriced and slow. I believe consumer demand is low for these reasons, but I'm sure they're not the only ones. That's why I was wondering as to the economic feasibility of it.
        • Re:is it possible? (Score:2, Interesting)

          by amplt1337 ( 707922 )
          IWACI (I was a congressional intern) during a period of intensive discussion of AmTrak (one of the Save-Amtrak votes in '02).
          The problem with Amtrak is not, as a lot of well-meaning but uninformed libertarians on /. will tell you, the unions -- the problem is two things:

          1 (the main one) Congresscritters use Amtrak routes as huge pork barrel projects, so that their local region gets subsidized train service and some extra jobs for running it, even though no free-market train system would go there. Route
    • Re:is it possible? (Score:3, Insightful)

      by CrazyTalk ( 662055 )
      Baltimore/DC and Pittsburgh have been competing for years for federal funding for a demonstration Maglev project. Here in Pittsburgh, they even planned out a route that such a train would travel (From the suburbs of Greensburg and Monroeville to downtown, then out to the airport). Considering the war in Iraq and and the budget deficit, prospects for funding are growing dimmer all the time.
    • the reason that Greyhound is faster is because that some Amtrak connections ARE via busses.

      While it may be more economical to pay for a one way ticket via Amtrak rather than an airline, the 22 hour trip and the possibiilty of having to take a bus is ridiculous...

      I'd rather pay for a round trip and skip the second half of the trip (if I don't know a future date that I could use it) than take an Amtrak.
    • The big thing that nobody realizes about Amtrak is that they don't own the rails at all - Amtrak is essentially treated as third-class traffic, where freight traffic always takes priority.

      Nothing like being stuck in the middle of some woods at midnight while your single-engine train is obligated to send its engine off somewhere to help move a disabled freight train that isn't actually in your way...
    • would it be worth it if some of those tracks were replaced to support maglevs?

      Unless long stretches of the track are straight or near-straight, the trains will never be able to reach their highest speeds. Most existing tracks, originally built for diesel engines hauling freight 100 years ago, are not straight enough. Even Amtrak's Acela trains, capable of impressively high speeds, cannot travel above ~60 mph for much of their routes due to the layout of the tracks they run on
  • TGV (Score:5, Informative)

    by zeux ( 129034 ) * on Thursday January 15, 2004 @09:45AM (#7984662)
    ... of the world's fastest train, 430kph...

    French TGV does 515 km/h [sterlingot.com].
    • Re:TGV (Score:5, Informative)

      by Gerein ( 169540 ) on Thursday January 15, 2004 @09:52AM (#7984711)
      French TGV does 515 km/h.

      Once. On a test-track. This one goes 430 km/h in regular traffic, which is a huge difference. Max speed is >500, too.

      Nothing against the TGV, though. Great trains...

      • by zeux ( 129034 ) *
        It wasn't on a test track.

        La rame 325 au passage du kilometre 166 de la branche sud-ouest de la ligne atlantique, quelques secondes avant d'atteindre 515,3 km/h.
        • Ok, sorry, haven't spoken a lot of French in the last years... So it wasn't a test track, but it was still not during normal operation, i.e. with passengers and normal safety regulations (not written in your link but I read that once somewhere), which was the whole point of my post.
        • Re:TGV (Score:3, Informative)

          by ahillen ( 45680 )
          It wasn't on a test track.

          It wasn't on a test track in the sense that it was only used for this speed record. But this section of the Atlantic line was specifically build for high speed test, meaning even less curve radii than on the standard 300km/h-high speed tracks. And also on this track, they had to do some alteration [unipi.it] specifically for the ultra high speed runs, namely increasing the tension of the electric wire by more than 50%.
          And the TGV train was heavily modified [unipi.it], including being shortened from te
    • French TGV does 515 km/h.

      Only in theory. In commercial service, both Shinkansen and TGV operate at a maximum speed of 300 km/h. The fastest scheduled service in the world [o-keating.com] is the Nozomi Shinkansen in Japan between Hiroshima and Kokura, which manages an average speed of 261.8 km/h.


      • by zeux ( 129034 ) *

        300 km/h is TGV 'cruise speed [tillier.net]'. It usually goes well up to 350 km/h with passengers aboard.

        Also the TGV has another record since in 1990 two TGV trains crossed each others at a relative speed of 777 km/h.

        Let's talk about hair dryer.
    • ... and as the house of the unbelievers were razed and scorched to the earth, their tags blinked until the end of days.
    • While the TGV managed to go 515 km/h, that was done on a four-car trainset on an extremely straight stretch of track with specially-modified overhead catenary pickup units.

      Because today's very fast trains still rely on steel rail and overhead wiring, you will soon run into issues of increased physical wear and tear on both the track and the rolling stock at speeds above 300 km/h (186 mph). I don't see steel-rail trains going much faster than 350 km/h because of this limitation.

      Because maglevs don't have p
  • by SlightOverdose ( 689181 ) on Thursday January 15, 2004 @09:50AM (#7984689)
    Wouldn't such a system be better as a replacement for air travel? at speeds exceeding 400km/h, it is in the same ballpark as commercial passenger jets, while being much cheaper and more convenient to run. It almost seems a waste to use it for a half-hour trip.

    Imaging a trans-continental one of these.
    • by the eric conspiracy ( 20178 ) on Thursday January 15, 2004 @09:57AM (#7984756)
      Wouldn't such a system be better as a replacement for air travel?

      Probably, but it would have to go through a lot of back yards to get from NY to LA. Air travel avoids the NIMBY factor a lot better.

    • "at speeds exceeding 400km/h, it is in the same ballpark as commercial passenger jets,"

      True, if by "the same ballpark" you mean "half the speed".

      Where it might win is on shorter trips where you avoid long checkin times and the minimum wage Nazis at the "security" checkpoints.
      • The trip doesn't even need to be that short.

        The average wasted time for an airplane trip, in my recent experience, is around four hours. This includes getting from the city to the airport, checking in, security, boarding, landing, disembarking, and getting from the airport to the city, with reasonable buffer times to avoid being late.

        Trains have enormous advantages here. The train stations are usually located in convenient areas, not way out in the middle of nowhere. Checkin time is basically nil, and sin
        • "3200km is not a "short" trip by any means."

          Well, most train trips I take I spend at least an hour total getting to the station and from the station to where I'm going, and unless the train is non-stop it wastes plenty of time slowing down and acceleration at each stop along the way, so the distance will be rather less than 3200km. But 3200km is still "short" compared to most airline flights I've made in the past (many of which obviously couldn't have been made by train due to the large lack of land along
          • I fly a lot more often than I take the train. However, on the rare occasion when I have taken the train, the train stations have been smack in the middle of the cities where I was and where I wanted to be. By car, it takes me perhaps ten minutes to get from house to station or vice versa.

            About stopping in the middle, that's why I postulated "average" speed. However, unlike an airplane, a train can stop, load and unload, and start again very quickly. Passenger trains can accelerate and break reasonably well
    • the one thing this is cheaper for is that it's electric, thus does not generate CO2 and other nuisances, as opposed to air travel
      • by 0123456 ( 636235 ) on Thursday January 15, 2004 @10:29AM (#7985056)
        Ask the people who live next to a coal-fired power plant that's running it whether they "generate CO2 and other nuisances".

        Electricity doesn't magically make it "clean", it just moves the problems elsewhere.
        • never said that you should replace those clean nuclear power plants with crappy coal plants.
          now, there's another solution, corner up all those "ecologists" and force them on bikes with generators instead of wheels...
        • But it does reduce the scale of those problems, by avoiding carrying the weight of the fuel on the craft. Also, power plants can afford to have much larger, more effective air scrubbers because they're not going anywhere, so size and weight are marginal concerns.
        • Electricity doesn't magically make it "clean", it just moves the problems elsewhere.

          Who said it was magic?

          One advantage of moving to an electric lawn mower, or car, is that it's considerably easier to improve pollution controls, and to gain efficiency, at a power plant than it is to, say, set up emissions tests and required repairs for many millions of individual cars. Think of all the grossly inefficient two-cycle lawn mowers out there -- spewing white smoke, flooded. Would you rather take on the task

  • by earplug ( 465622 ) on Thursday January 15, 2004 @09:51AM (#7984697)
    Probably the world's fastest train
    China's superfast express launches next week. Sean Dodson reports on a revolution in public transport

    Sean Dodson
    Thursday January 15, 2004
    The Guardian

    On the southern bank of the Yangtze river, about 30km north of Shanghai, lies Pudong international airport. Since it opened its first terminal in 1999 it has served China's irrepressible 21st-century megalopolis with nothing more futuristic than a fleet of taxis and a schedule of buses.

    If you are lucky, and the roads are clear, you can be in the city centre in 40 minutes. But as of next week, to coincide with the Chinese New Year, passengers arriving at Pudong will be able to reach the centre of town in a fraction of the time.

    The world's first commercial high-speed maglev now connects Pudong with downtown Shanghai in a very, very nimble seven minutes 20 seconds. Shanghai's new express can reach a top speed of 430kph (267mph) in just under two minutes.

    Maglev - shorthand for magnetic levitation - is basically a train that floats on an electromagnetic cushion, which is propelled along a guideway at incredible speeds. Magnetic levitation has been a long-standing dream of railway engineers - the first patent was issued in 1934 - but the first new mass transit system since the advent of the aeroplane has suffered more delays than the average London commuter train.

    Little wonder. At first glance, maglev technology appears extortionately expensive when compared with conventional rail: a mile of track costs at least 3.5m to build and that's not including the cost of the giant electricity substations. But, say its advocates, the long-term benefits are many. Not only can it cut journey times in half, maglev is cleaner and cheaper to run than passenger aircraft. According to Transrapid, the German manufacturer of the Shanghai maglev, the technology uses five times less energy - per passenger mile - than jet aircraft. Maglev trains cost a few million pounds per vehicle, compared with $200m for the average Boeing 747.

    Moreover, maglev schedules should also be less affected by bad weather or congestion than air travel and are cheaper to maintain. As the maglev has no wheels there is far less erosion of track, radically cutting operating costs. "Maglev offers the prospect of first-class style for a lower cost than economy air travel," explains Robert Budell of Transrapid, "there will be less need to pack you in like sardines".

    But for a maglev fast enough to compete seriously with passenger aircraft you must travel to Japan. In the foothills of Mount Fuji, 100km west of Tokyo, lies the tourist town of Tsuru. Why would anyone build a test track for the future of mass transit in such mountainous terrain? "Because Japan is a mountainous country," answers Tadao Okai, a senior engineer for Japan Rail. "The vast majority of 18.4km of our test track is underground because when we come to build the maglev network we must build it beneath our cities."

    At Tsuru there is a small observation deck and visitor centre that overlooks the single kilometre where the maglev emerges from its tunnel. In December, the Japanese maglev reached 581kph, breaking its own Guinness World Record of 552kph (with passengers aboard) set in 1999. However, most analysts believe that Japan's proposed inter-city maglev could be decades away from being built. Even in China, maglev has suffered setbacks. Plans for a 1,290km Shanghai-to-Beijing line are officially on hold. While in Transrapid's back yard, plans for a maglev line between Hamburg and Berlin were derailed by the Green Party. As part of Gerhard Schroder's ruling coalition, it argued that the proposed line would damage wildlife with electromagnetic radiation, and that its concrete track-supports would spoil forests.

    Part of the problem is that both Japan and Germany already have enviable high-speed rail networks. Japan's pioneering shinkansen - or bullet train - carries 300,000 people every day from Tokyo to Osaka in two hours 30 minutes a
  • by coppice ( 546158 ) on Thursday January 15, 2004 @10:04AM (#7984808)
    Last week we were driving along the motorway beside the maglev track in PuDong. Someone said there was a train coming. We all turned to look, and had just a quick glimpse before it was gone. That thing really moves :-) I don't know how many passengers it holds, but from the brief glimpse I got, it didn't look very big.
  • by Raindeer ( 104129 ) on Thursday January 15, 2004 @10:06AM (#7984834) Homepage Journal
    Though it sounds nice, it turns out these trains are way more expensive then the normal trains on wheels. Pain is that at higher velocities, 250+ the magnetic field creates its own drag. Now great... that means you have to inject more energy to overcome that. Furthermore, though wheels cause drag, at high velocities it turns out the drag from friction with the air is the main problem. So a lower cw-value will help you out alot more.

    All in all it is not a solution, since it costs more to build and to operate. That is why German parliament voted against a German invention and Dutch parliament is also not to keen on it.
  • Cost vs. Benefit (Score:3, Interesting)

    by viniosity ( 592905 ) on Thursday January 15, 2004 @10:10AM (#7984862) Homepage Journal
    A few years back they did an analysis of the costs versus benefits of various high speed options. I recall that the MagLev's were way too expensive for the speed you got. As I remember, best results were somewhere in the 180mph range with European style trainsets.
  • by axxackall ( 579006 ) on Thursday January 15, 2004 @10:19AM (#7984930) Homepage Journal
    The world's first commercial high-speed maglev...

    Smart bank cards, GSM in Europe beats US crdit/debit cards and cell phone standards. Now commercial high-speed maglev train.

    Why is that? Is there anything wrong with US that it doesn't let the country to lead hi-techs anymore?

    • GSM better? Hardly. CDMA is by far the superior standard from a technical standpoint, and yet it is starting to lose to imported GSM due to the incompetence of the providers here who adopted it. (Verizon seems to do a good job of it, but they're expensive and don't have a good phone selection. And *Sprint*... ugh, gawd are they terrible.)
    • Smart bank cards, GSM in Europe beats US crdit/debit cards and cell phone standards. Now commercial high-speed maglev train.

      Why is that? Is there anything wrong with US that it doesn't let the country to lead hi-techs anymore?

      The psychological need that you feel to post that comment says otherwise ... nobody bothers dissing somebody who is "way behind" in any meaningful sense.

    • by Tom ( 822 ) on Thursday January 15, 2004 @11:55AM (#7985954) Homepage Journal
      But you are leading in high-tech. Just others. There is, for example, no country on the globe that comes even close to your recent advances in surveillance technology.

      I also hear nobody else seriously contemplates voting machines, they all still use that old, primitive, slightly-more-reliable paper-ballot system.
  • In USian terms ... (Score:5, Informative)

    by pherris ( 314792 ) on Thursday January 15, 2004 @10:19AM (#7984940) Homepage Journal
    Assuming ~260mph:

    Boston to NYC: 211 miles / 50 minutes

    Boston to Washington, DC: 465 miles / 1.75 hours

    Boston to Orlando, FL: 1,320 miles / 5 hours

    Los Angeles to San Francisco: 387 miles / 1.5 hours

    NYC to Washington, DC: 258 miles / 1 hour

  • Inductrak? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Wowbagger5 ( 715966 ) <wowbagger5@hotmail.com> on Thursday January 15, 2004 @10:34AM (#7985108) Homepage
    What about Inductrak systems? They have much lower maintenance costs, and do not require magnetic shielding. See http://www.llnl.gov/str/Post.html , and http://www.matchrockets.com/ether/halbach.html for halbach arrays.
  • "Maglev offers the prospect of first-class style for a lower cost than economy air travel," explains Robert Budell of Transrapid, "there will be less need to pack you in like sardines".

    Yeah, that's what's going to happen. I guess he did say *prospect*.

    Personally, I'm looking forward to the government's press conference:

    Hu Jintao: Now I'm here to answer any questions you may have about the maglev train.
    Reporter: Can it outrun the flash?
    Hu Jintao: You bet.
    Reporter: Can superman outrun the flas

  • by peter303 ( 12292 ) on Thursday January 15, 2004 @11:12AM (#7985475)
    Sometime in the 1960s Americans lost their enthusiasm for science and futuristic things. But the Chinese retain their enthusiasm and are doing things like going into space, building th world's tallest building, and superfast trains. If you wander around Chinese streets or schools you'll see this enthusiasm in posters and books etc.
    Americans got jaded by the liberal pablum of 'Silent Spring' and 'Limits to Growth' in the 1960s. Science became pollutors, war mongers, and could do no right. Though pockets of "true believers" remain in groups like Slashdot, it is sad to live in such an apathetic country.
  • Maglev, not Mars! (Score:2, Interesting)

    by gtrubetskoy ( 734033 ) *
    I'd almost rather the US government spent the money they plan on spending on some Mars trip on building a maglev track connecting major cities on the east coast, west coast, and perhaps even one running across from east to west.

    Wouldn't it be cool to take a 300MPH train from New York to LA?

  • by Moderation abuser ( 184013 ) on Thursday January 15, 2004 @11:27AM (#7985638)
    The average train speed 80 years ago using steam locomotives was faster than what we have today using Diesel and electrics in the UK. In fact, the Mallard regularly did London to Edinburgh at 126mph. We can only dream of speeds like that these days. Today the track determines the top speed and what we have now is apparently crap.

  • The "Rice Rocket".


  • From the article: ...plans for a maglev line between Hamburg and Berlin were derailed by the Green Party. As part of Gerhard Schroder's ruling coalition, it argued that the proposed line would damage wildlife with electromagnetic radiation...

    Oh no, the big scary magnets will hurt the poor little squirrels!

    Seriously, are these people completely dumb? Those two sentences just made my stomach churn. Maybe they didn't realize that light is also 'electromagnetic radiation'... though calling it radiation au
  • The Russians say they can get to Mars by 2014 [itar-tass.com]. They also have a suborbital space plane in the works [newsfromrussia.com]. I think the Russians actually like being underestimated, in fact I wouldn't be suprised if it's an intentional part of their strategy.
  • I think this "MagLev" technology could be put to better use in air hockey tables....


  • by aquarian ( 134728 ) on Thursday January 15, 2004 @04:19PM (#7989710)
    ...it goes from where no one lives to where no one works.

"Remember, extremism in the nondefense of moderation is not a virtue." -- Peter Neumann, about usenet