Extremetech speculates on the Elon Musk Hyperloop transportation system Elon Musk comment was that the Hyperloop will be a “cross between a Concorde and a railgun and an air hockey table.
Acoustic Wave Hyperloop Theory
A research group that levitated arbitrarily shaped objects in acoustic waves. This technique involves an acoustic phenomenon called standing waves — essentially, waves that are held in place by interference. If you imbue these waves with enough power (volume) and hit just the right frequency, you can levitate an object. Standing waves, as the name implies, don’t move — but Björn Smedman and Charles Alexander both theorize that, if you pump these waves into a loop (which we assume the Hyperloop is), and change up the acoustic parameters slightly, then it might be possible to carry vehicles on the edge of these waves as they travel around the loop.
By hitching a ride on the peak of a sound wave, you only really have to deal with drag caused by air density (linear), which is much less than drag caused by air velocity (square).If you pump enough power into the acoustic wave (i.e. increase the amplitude), the air density increases but the relative air velocity drops. In effect, the vehicle in the wave is stationary, in reference to its surroundings. Eventually, as the sound wave gets stronger and stronger, you achieve almost adiabatic travel — travel that loses no energy at all to the environment via drag or friction.
In theory, this process is so efficient that solar panels on top of the loop (a very large surface area!) can power the system. The acoustic waves, traveling continuously around the loop, would effectively act as energy storage.
Elon Musk is set to reveal his “Hyperloop alpha” plans on August 12, we’ll finally be able to stop theorizing about possible designs, and instead shift our focus to whether the plan actually stands up to Musk’s extraordinary claims.
Brian Wang is a Futurist Thought Leader and a popular Science blogger with 1 million readers per month. His blog Nextbigfuture.com is ranked #1 Science News Blog. It covers many disruptive technology and trends including Space, Robotics, Artificial Intelligence, Medicine, Anti-aging Biotechnology, and Nanotechnology.
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