Building the World

August 25, 2017
by buildingtheworld
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Zoom…

Trains that fly? In tubes? Hyperloop has reached another milestone. Image of a Copenhagen pipe tunnel, Wikimedia.

Hyperloop has achieved another milestone: the first trial run of the passenger pod destined to carry commuters from Los Angeles to San Francisco at 650 miles per hour. Transportation advances have changed the world. China’s Grand Canal transformed a region into a nation; the New Silk Road may link 40% of the world. Once united by the Golden Spike, the Transcontinental Railroad shortened the trek across the United States from six months to 10 days. The Erie Canal reduced the cost of shipping goods from Buffalo to New York City from $100 to $10. The Channel Tunnel made breakfast in London and lunch in Paris an everyday occurrence. Now, with Hyperloop, London/Paris transit time could be 25 minutes; Dubai to Abu Dhabi: 12 minutes. What advances in business, culture, and perhaps even cooperation and peace, might come from a more connected future?

For a video test ride: http://www.bbc.com/news/av/technology-40811172/hyperloop-one-passenger-pod-tested-successfully

To calculate time between any two destinations: https://hyperloop-one.com

Building the World Blog by Kathleen Lusk Brooke and Zoe G Quinn is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License

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May 26, 2017
by buildingtheworld
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Golden Opportunity? Coal to Wind

“Green River of Wyoming.” Artist, Thomas Moran, 1878. Image: wikimedia commons

A golden opportunity may be dawning, not only for energy but for employment, from coal to wind. There’s precedent: many workers on the Transcontinental Railroad were “navvies” – a term coined to describe those who built navigable waterways including the Erie Canal. Skills in technologies, combined with the ability to work in remote locations: these are the same valuable traits that may now transform the coal industry. Carbon County, Wyoming, is launching a job training program for coal miners to become wind farm technicians. Wyoming produces more coal than any other American state; but geography makes it ideal for wind, with 850 turbines planned, perhaps leading to a change in tax policy.  Job training is free, offered by Goldwind, a leading wind turbine manufacturer in Urumqi, Xinjiang, China, famous hub of the Silk Road. This year marks the 200th anniversary of the Erie Canal: will the celebration include the training and development of workers who changed the American economy? Might the future feature transformation from coal to wind, as skilled workers take on new industries to rebuild energy and environment?

Baeumier, Axel, Ede Ijjasa-Vasque, Shomik Mehndirrata, eds. Sustainable Low-Carbon City Development in China. The World Bank, 2012. ISBN: 9780821389881 (ebook).

Cardwell, Diane. “Wind Project in Wyoming Envisions Coal Miners as Trainees.” 21 May 2017. The New York Times. https://www.nytimes.com/2017/05/21/business/energy-environment/wind-turbine-job-training-wyoming.html?_r=0

Goldwind. In Chinese: http://goldwind.cn; in English: http://www.goldwindglobal.com/web/index.do

Building the World Blog by Kathleen Lusk Brooke and Zoe G Quinn is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported Licen

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November 18, 2016
by buildingtheworld
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In A Timely Fashion

Minutensprunguhr: by Hk kng. Wikimedia commons.

Today is the birthday of time, it might be said. On 18 November, 1883, the General Railroad Time Convention agreed that a new time standard would take effect. It was just in time. Cities and towns used to set their clocks at noon: noon being one moment in Chicago and quite another in Los Angeles. Such a system proved imperfect when railroads began to stream across the continent: how could train times be coordinated? Public safety demanded a solution; it came from Sandford Fleming, surveyor on the Canadian Pacific Railway route. The Canadian Pacific and the U.S. Transcontinental Railroad came together (even before the Canadian Pacific was completed) and agreed jointly on a system of time zones. Eventually the idea gathered such force that the entire world became galvanized by this innovation. In 1884, the International Prime Meridian Conference, held in Washington, DC, endorsed and inaugurated a worldwide system of time zones. Ever wonder why we say “9am” or “9pm?” The suffix stands for ante-meridiem or post-meridiem. How many other whole world agreements have been universal?

For more:

McNamara, Robert. “Why We Have Time Zones.” http://history1800s.about.com/od/railroadbuilding/fl/Why-We-Have-Time-Zones.htm?

Building the World Blog by Kathleen Lusk Brooke and Zoe G Quinn is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.

 

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September 24, 2015
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Heroes, Inspiration, and Change

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. in Washington, D.C., August 28, 1963, delivering his “I Have a Dream” Speech.

On September 24, 2015, Pope Francis addressed the United States Congress; it was an historic occasion, as the Pontiff was the first to do so, although predecessors had also received invitations. Pope Francis referenced the message of Moses, and highlighted four American heroes: Abraham Lincoln, Martin Luther King, Dorothy Day, and Thomas Merton. In these leaders, the pontiff called forth the hope and action of the United States, and the world, to the qualities of peace, freedom, dreams, responsibility, and dialogue. What is the role of heroes as an inspiration to those ready to build a better future?

For the text and audio of Martin Luther King’s “I Have a Dream” Speech of 28 August, 1963: http://www.mlkonline.net/dream.html

For the text of Pope Francis’ address to the United States Congress of 24 September, 2015: http://www.usnews.com/news/articles/2015/09/24/text-of-pope-francis-address-to-congress

Building the World Blog by Kathleen Lusk Brooke and Zoe G Quinn is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.

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October 27, 2014
by buildingtheworld
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Interconnectivity: Americas

 

Simon Bolivar. Image: wikimedia commons.

Should the Americas be interconnected; if so, in which ways? Simon Bolivar raised the issue in 1826; Bill Clinton continued the debate at 1994’s Summit of the Americas, as Nafta took a further step. In 2015, is it time to consider the Pan-American Highway , perhaps inspired by its original vision? Pan-American Railway reconnaissance surveys were completed in 1897, but in 1923, the 29, 800 mile route instead became a highway. Now, with magnetic levitation and tube train technology, envisioned by Frankel and Davidson, and recently by Tesla/SpaceX-founder Elon Musk, there is an opportunity. The most difficult part of large-scale infrastructure may be the securing of rights-of-way: in this case, already agreed. The route has never been completed, respecting the Darien Gap’s precious environment. But might an elevated tube train serve as flyover? On the ground, “La Carreterra Panamericana” could thus be preserved, and even enhanced by addition of a Sportsway inspired by Benton MacKaye’s Appalachian Trail. Summit of the Americas 2015 convenes in Panama; might Juan Carlos Varela propose a new vision? Will Bolivia, named after Simon Bolivar, lead the way to an environment of greater connectivity with Law 071, “Ley de Derechos de la Madre Tierra?”

Bolivia: http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2011/apr/10/bolivia-enshrines-natural-worlds-rights

Musk’s Hyperloop: http://edition.cnn.com/2013/08/12/tech/innovation/hyperloop-fastest-trains/

Pan-AmericanRail:http://www.foreignaffairs.com/articles/69842/warren-kelchner/the-pan-american-highway

Building the World Blog by Kathleen Lusk Brooke and Zoe G Quinn is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.

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June 3, 2014
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Linking North America by Train

 

Why not build a train route linking Canada, United States, and Mexico? Image: wikimedia commons.

When the Canadian Pacific Railway was completed, Montreal suddenly became married to Vancouver. The Canadian Pacific Railway employed 3.5 million workers, another benefit. Should Nafta encourage a vac-train line linking Canada, United States, and Mexico? Might the route include a Sportsway? North America could found a Center for the Study of Trains, patterned after the Russian Railway Service Corps, via universities of Canada, Mexico, and the United States. Education and employment might combine in a rethink of the medieval guilds, helping to achieve what Christopher Wilson of the Mexico Institute of the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars terms “globally literate workforces.”

For more:

http://www.nytimes.com/2014/06/01/world/americas/as-ties-with-china-unravel-us-companies-head-to-mexico.html

http://www.wilsoncenter.org/article/mexico-institute-the-news-arizona-manufacturer-sees-mexico-key-to-growth

Building the World Blog by Kathleen Lusk Brooke and Zoe G Quinn is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.

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May 12, 2014
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All Aboard, Africa

 

Eurostar: image, wikimedia commons.

May is a good month for trains. On May 10, 1869, the Transcontinental Railroad transformed the commercial and social interactions of the United States. The Channel Tunnel opened in May 1994. In May 2014, Africa announced a new railway line to run from Mombasa to Nairobi, eventually extending to Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi, and South Sudan. Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta announced that a subsidiary of China Communications Construction Co will be the main contractor, with China’s Eximbank supporting 90% of the cost of the first phase. Will the world next welcome the “China-Russia-Canada-America” line, now reportedly in discussion in Beijing? What is the future of train transport?

http://www.bbc.com/news/world-africa-27368877

Building the World Blog by Kathleen Lusk Brooke and Zoe G Quinn is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.

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May 10, 2013
by zoequinn001
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Golden Spike Driven Today

The driving of the final spike, from Golden Spike National Historic Site, at nationalparks.org.

Today is the anniversary of the completion of the Transcontinental Railroad. The last spike was driven into the ground on May 10, 1869, the news of which was telegraphed around the nation near simultaneously! It is a little known, but important, fact that telegraph lines were placed beneath the rail tracks, creating one of the first large communications networks. The United States previously held the world record in rail tracks, but now China is deemed the leader as that nation builds a rail network uniting major cities with high speed rail including maglev. When the United States Transcontinental Railroad opened for business, cross country travel formerly taking six months by covered wagon could now be accomplished in 10 days. Commerce increased rapidly; by 1880, $50 million in cargo traveled across the 1800 miles of rail. In the future, will the United States join Canada and Mexico in a vision of high speed rail, perhaps as a celebration of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA)? Could the PanAmerican highway become the route of a new transportation corridor combining state-of-the-art rail, road, and bikeway?

To read the original New York Times report, please see:
http://www.nytimes.com/learning/general/onthisday/big/0510.html#article

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Building the World Blog by Kathleen Lusk Brooke and Zoe G Quinn is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.

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April 30, 2013
by buildingtheworld
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Singin’ in the Train

 

SFOT Red Train 4 by James Murray from Wikimedia Commons, at wikimedia.org.

Haunting whistle in the night, hypnotic rhythm of wheels on rail, panting acceleration of uphill runs breathed heavily by a 2860 engine, sigh of brakes — these were sounds quite new in the landscapes of the world until rather recently. The business of constructing rails was introduced in England in the seventeenth century. British mapmaker and engineer Captain John Montressor built the first American railway in Lewiston, New York in 1764. Nearly a century later, the Golden Spike was driven, completing the Transcontinental Railroad; it was now possible to traverse the country in 10 days instead of six months. The Transcontinental Railroad (1869), Canadian Pacific Railway (1885) and the Trans-Siberian Railway (1904) introduced soundscape to the landscape — the train whistle. Japan’s Shinkansen(1964) added a new note: each commuter station is announced by an electronic tune, composed to reflect the culture of the district. For a train soundscape, enjoy a listen (and look) via YouTube “Sound of Royal Hudson steam engine with O Canada horn ‘Good Times Express'” (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KQNQbuXjF2M). Finding music in the midst of urban sound, George Gershwin who included in “American in Paris” the blare of French taxi horns, might agree with Mozart: “Music is continuous, listening is intermittent.” As new trains, and cars, are developed, should musicians be on the team to create the ideal soundscape?

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Building the World Blog by Kathleen Lusk Brooke and Zoe G Quinn is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.

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July 3, 2012
by zoequinn001
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The Best Stir Fry in the US?

American fare is notoriously heavy and it turns out it always has been. On the Transcontinental Railroad the Chinese proved to be the healthiest workers. The reason? They cooked light and healthy stir-fry cuisine while other laborers ate heavier fare. In addition, the Chinese tradition of drinking tea served well for cleanliness of water as well as benefits of sobriety. Other workers preferred something stronger.Today stir fry is a fairly common food in America, with recipes in all sorts of cookbooks. For a variety of stir fry recipes see:

http://allrecipes.com/recipes/main-dish/stir-fries/ViewAll.aspx

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Building the World Blog by Kathleen Lusk Brooke and Zoe G Quinn is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.
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