Building the World

September 2, 2022
by Building The World
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TRANSPORT: Origins of Labor Day

“Golden Spike Ceremony: Promontory Summit, Utah, 1869” marked the completion of the Transcontinental Railroad. Soon, the new railroad industry would be linked to Labor Day. Image: National Archives and Records Administration (NAI #594940. Public Domain. Included with appreciation.

When the Transcontinental Railroad, with more than 1,800 (2,900 kilometers) miles of track, opened in 1869 with the driving of the Golden Spike in Utah, thousands of workers had toiled to complete what had been the largest government project in history, to date. A cross-country trip that had previously taken months of overland perilous journey across deserts and mountains, or a sea-voyage around South America, was now possible. But working conditions were arduous and dangerous. Rail travel proved more comfortable: George M. Pullman began converting passenger cars into sleepers, employing “Pullman porters” to work aboard. Hiring practice discriminated racially, and enforced extremely long working hours – 400 per month.

“Pullman strikers and Illinois National Guard at Arcade Building,” 1894. Abraham Lincoln Historical Digitization Project. Image: wikimedia, public domain, Included with appreciation to all workers on Labor Day.

When Pullman laid off 30% of the workers in the recession of 1893, Pullman porters and employees walked out on strike. Train travel stalled in 27 states from Illinois, home to the Pullman company, and the West Coast. In the Chicago suburb of Blue Island, a crowd derailed a locomotive pulling a postal train, and the U. S. Attorney General enacted an injunction against the striking workers. President Grover Cleveland sent troops. Riots broke out, hundreds of rail cars were ravaged and burned by protestors; the National Guard fired into the mob, killing 30 people and wounding many others. This was in July 1894. Ironically, Cleveland had just signed, in June, a bill declaring a new holiday to honor workers and promote good conditions. The first Labor Day was celebrated on the first Monday in September of that year.

“A. Phillip Randolph – political and social leader.” Founder of the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters. Image: wikimedia, public domain. Included with appreciation to A. Phillip Randolph and those in the BSCP union.

The Labor Day announcement raised national attention regarding Pullman workers. The Guard was recalled and the strike was over by August. While Labor Day began a new era of awareness of worker health and safety. Pullman porters now worked in better conditions: some earned more money, others advanced to management positions. But hours remained long. In 1925, Pullman porters, organized by A. Phillip Randolph, formed a union: Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters (BSCP). It took more than ten years to negotiate better working hours – 240 per month.

Transport has always initiated economic and social change. Ships, rails, wheels, and wings caused major shifts in commerce, communication, and culture. Labor Day honors all workers. Around the world, there are Labor day celebrations, some in May. But in the United States, the holiday is always observed in September, and we have transport to thank for its origin and celebration.

“Labor Day” by S.D. Ehrhart, 1909. Image: Library of Congress #2011647501. Public Domain. Included with great appreciation to all who labor.

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

Davidson, Frank P. and K. Lusk Brooke. “The Transcontinental Railroad,” Chapter 17, Building the World. Pages 205 – 238. Westport: Greenwood Press, 2006. ISBN: 0313333734.

Loomis, Erik, A History of America in Ten Strikes. The New Press,  2018. ISBN-10: 1620971615.

United States Department of Labor. “History of Labor Day.” https://www.dol.gov/general/laborday/history

Whitney, Asa. A Project for a Railroad to the Pacific. New York: George Ward, 1849. Text available in Building the World, pages 215-227.

August 26, 2022
by Building The World
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TRANSPORT: Tunnel Visionaries

Underwater tunnels like the Channel Tunnel, and Japan’s new tunnel under the Tsugaru Strait, are engineering feats. Here, “Underwater tunnel in Mandalay Bay Aquarium” photo by Daniel Ramirez, 2014. Creative Commons 2.0. Included with appreciation.

Walking on water takes a miracle, but walking through water requires excellent planning. When the Channel Tunnel was first designed, over a luncheon meeting in New York City hosted by Frank P. Davidson, Thomas Lamont, and representatives of Bechtel, Brown & Root, and Morrison Knudsen Company, a 1959 decision saved lives in 2022. The group engaged Charles Dunn of International Engineering Company of San Francisco, CA, to design the project. Dunn added a service tunnel. It was not mandatory, but it proved prescient.

Channel Tunnel has three tunnels – two rail lines and a service tunnel between. The design by Charles Dunn has saved lives. Image: “Cross section with service tunnel in between two rail lines,’ by Commander Keane and Arz. Wikimedia commons. Public domain. Included with appreciation.

The three tunnels under the Channel (in French, “La Manche”) are a north-running tunnel, a south-running tunnel, and – between them – a service tunnel. During an August 2022 incident, a train experienced an alarm warning, stopped, and held for assessment. Passengers walked for 15 minutes from the rail shuttle to a freight train that conveyed them through and out of the service tunnel. That freight train did not have the usual accommodation for passengers: no elegant meal service, not even seats. But with Dunn’s design, the service tunnel, and its freight train did provide safety. When passengers arrived in Folkestone, terminal restaurants welcomed them with free food and beverages.

Strait of Dover between England and France. Image: NASA, 2000. Public Domain. Included with appreciation.

The service tunnel in the Channel Tunnel has proven its worth before. In 1996, a fire broke out in the Channel Tunnel when a train carrying heavy goods vehicles (there are passenger trains as well as freight trains carrying trucks) sparked a fire. The train was brought to a controlled stop adjacent to an entrance to the service tunnel. While there were no reported fatalities, some people suffered from smoke inhalation. The fire was fought by English and French teams who extinguished the flames after considerable effort. Tunnel repair was carried out by Freyssinet, a French engineering firm. Bi-national Channel Tunnel Safety Authority (CTSA) chaired one of three inquiries: the result was regular bi-national team practice exercises and shared operational procedures. In 2008, a fire in the Chunnel, started by a truck that spread to other vehicles, caused damage but no fatalities or serious injuries. It is worth noting that when the Channel Tunnel project began, the service tunnel was the first built.

“Tsugaru Srait” by Kyoyaku, adapted by Bourrichon, 2019. Creative Commons 4.0. Included with appreciation.

How can the Channel Tunnel’s design inspire the future? Japan, home to many tunnels that connect the nation composed of four main islands – Hokkaido, Honshu, Kyushu, and Shikoku – is currently planning a new tunnel across the Tsugaru Strait for automobile traffic between Honshu and Hokkaido. The tunnel would span 31 kilometers (19. 26 miles) and cost about $7 billion (720 billion yen). In the new Tsugaru Strait tunnel, there will be two decks: the top for autonomous vehicles like self-driving cars; the lower for freight trains. Economic benefits include increased ability to transport agricultural produce from Hokkaido, estimated at 34 billion yen ($249 million).  The project will take 15 years to build; construction costs would be recouped in 32 years. Tolls are estimated to be 9,000 yen for cars ($65).

“Platooning” is a method for linking controls of lines and groups of autonomous vehicles. Could this be used in the new Tsugaru Strait Tunnel? Image: “Platooning Back” by U.S. Department of Transportation, 2019. Public Domain. Included with appreciation.

Tsugaru Strait is also the location of Japan’s Seikan Tunnel, serving only trains; it was not built with a separate escape or service tunnel, but with two emergency escape points in the system, Tappi-Kaitei station and Toshioka-Kaitei station. Shinkansen trains in Japan’s high speed rail network use the Seikan system. Fifty trains traverse the Seikan Tunnel every day, and night trains offer sleeping accommodation. Seikan suffered inundation accidents during construction but no fatalities.

“Cross-Harbour Tunnel Bridge Fire,” in Hong Kong, 2019. Photograph by Studio Incendo. Wikimedia. Included with appreciation.

Other tunnels around the world have experienced accidents, fires, and floods. In Hong Kong, the Cross-Harbour Tunnel was the first built there for underwater transit; in 2019, protestors set fire to tollbooths, causing the tunnel to close but avoiding any fatalities. In 1991, two trains collided in the Severn Tunnel joining England and Wales; 185 passengers were injured but none fatally. In 1999, a fire in the Mont Blanc Tunnel joining France, Italy, and Switzerland, caused 39 deaths and 14 non-fatal injuries. These examples point out the wisdom of Dunn’s design of an extra service tunnel for the Channel Tunnel.

“Shadertoy Tunnel Example,” by Inigo Quilez, 2016. Creative Commons, wikimedia. Included with appreciation.

In a time of budget cuts, along with an increased focus on transportation infrastructure, this week’s Channel Tunnel problem and its successful rescue solution may serve to underscore the importance of safety, and its support by budget and planning. In a new era when safety measures for autonomous vehicles and driverless cars are forefront, Japan’s new tunnel may set an important example for tunnel transport infrastructure for autonomous vehicles. What safety measures should be included?

Bove, Tristan. “Passengers forced to walk through ‘terrifying’ emergency tunnel under the sea after France-England train breaks down.” 24 August 2022. Fortune. https://fortune.com/2022/08/24/eurotunnl-evacuation-passengers-walk-terrifying-service-tunnel-between-france-england/

Davidson, Frank P. and K. Lusk Brooke. “The Channel Tunnel,” pages 761-804, Building the World (2006) ISBN: 0313333742.

Failure Knowledge Database. “Train Fie in Hokuriku Tunnel.” http://www.shippai.org/fkd/en/cfen/CA1000605.html

Rosenberg, Jennifer. “How the Channel Tunnel Was Built and Designed.” 12 August 2019. ThoughtCo. https://www.thoughtco.com/the-channel-tunnel-1779429

Takahashi, Toru. “$7bn plan for new Japan undersea tunnel warms up after years on ice: Project would allow auto traffic between Honshu and Hokkaido.” 3 January 2021. Nikkei Asia. https://asia.nikkei.com/Business/Engineering-Construction/7bn-plan-for-new-Japan-undersea-tunnel-warms-up-after-years-on-ice

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

 

March 29, 2022
by Building The World
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TRANSPORT: Ten Mile Markers on the Road to the Future

Ten Mile Markers to the Future. Image” Numbers 1 to 10 Rotation Illusion” by Nevit Dilmen, 2012. Wikimedia: Creative Commons 3.0. Included with appreciation .

Many governments, and most scientists, are clear that we need to stop using fossil fuels to halt climate change (and perhaps geopolitical conflict). But transitioning from today’s energy sources and systems to a new energy paradigm is not as clear. Where and how to start?

“500 Series Shinkansen train at Tokyo Station,” 2005. Photographer ⊃ Wikimedia: CC 3.0. With appreciation.

Let’s start with transport, because it is a sector already altered by the recent viral pandemic. Can we preserve some of the energy-saving practices as we move into the future? Here are ten steps recommended by the International Energy Agency:

TEN MILE MARKERS ON THE ROAD TO THE FUTURE

REDUCE SPEED: cut speed limit on highways by 10 kilometers (6.2 miles) per hour

TELECOMMUTE: work from home 3 days per week if possible

CAR-FREE DAY: large cities could ban cars from central urban roads one day per week

MICRO MOBILE: build bikeways, skating lanes, and walking paths

CAR SHARE: take an Uber; get a Lyft; commute with buddies

DELIVER THE GOODS: redesign freight trucks and trains for better energy use

EV: accelerate use of electric vehicles by financial incentives and supportive infrastructure

ZOOM: cut all non-essential business travel in favor of teleconferencing

TRAIN: incentivize high-speed, maglev, and hyper-loop trains with overnight sleeper cars

If the above actions were achieved, “Full implementation of these measures in advanced economies alone can cut oil demand by 2.7 million barrels a day within the next four months.” (IEA 2022)

Logo of International Energy Agency. www.iea.org. Image: wikimedia. With appreciation to IEA.

The International Energy Agency was founded (November 1974) to set up a collective action system to respond to disruptions in energy (then, mainly oil) supply. The IEA was created with a treaty: “Agreement on an International Energy Program.” Today, the IEA represents 75% of global energy consumers.

Can highways change energy use? “Car dashboard on highway,” by Arkady Lifshits, photographer. Generously dedicated to the public domain. Wikimedia: Creative Commons 1.0. With appreciation.

While the IEA can act collectively (It did in 1991, 2005, and 2011: could there be another soon?), countries often set energy-saving policies during shortages. In 1973, the United States Federal Highway Interstate System reduced speed limits to 55 mph (89 km/h) by passing the National Maximum Speed Law. As a result, lives were saved as well as energy: road fatalities declined by 16% (Friedman 2009).

England’s New River has walking paths. “New River Bowes Park,” by Nick Cooper, 2009. Creative Commons 3.0 with appreciation.

Walking paths were installed alongside England’s New River in 1603. Japan’s high-speed rail system, Shinkansen, (see above) built for the Tokyo Olympics in 1964 (and upgraded for the recent Summer Olympics in 2021), was profitable from day one.

“Eurotunnel: Folkestone Terminal,” by Ed Clayton, 2012. Creative Commons 2.0. With appreciation.

The Channel Tunnel, providing train transit from London to Paris, has brought increased economic and environmental benefits. Every new form of transport has caused changes in civilization: from the Silk Road to the Lunar Landing. Transport has the opportunity, and perhaps obligation, to develop mile makers on the road to the future. 

 

Buttigieg, Pete, United States Secretary of Transportation, and Cristiano Amon, President and CEO of Qualcomm. “The Future of Transportation is Driven by Tech.” CES 2022. VIDEO: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=59HgM5gwmFI

Friedman, Lee S. el al., “Long-Term Effects of Repealing the National Maximum Speed Limit in the United States.” September 2009. American Journal of Public Health: 99(9): 1626-1631. https://www.ncbi.nlm.gov/pmc/articles/PM2724439/ and doi: 10.2015/AJPH.2008.153726

International Energy Agency (IEA). “A 10 Point Plan to Cut Oil Use.” March 2022. https://www.iea.org/reports/a/10-point-plan-to-cut-oil-use

United Nations. “Agreement on an International Energy Program (with annex).” and “Accord relatif à un programme international de l’énergie (avec annexe).” Number: 15664, 18 November 1974. https://treaties.un.org/doc/Publication/UNTS/Volume%201040/volume-1040-A-15664-English.pdf

United States. “National Maximum Speed Limit (NMSL)” as part of the “Emergency Highway Energy Conservation Act.” Public Law 93-239 – Jan. 2, 1974. https://www.govinfo.gov/content/pkg/STATUTE-87/pdf/STATUTE-87-Pg1046.pdf

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

 

October 25, 2019
by Building The World
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TRANSPORT: frequent flier programs

“Red Arrows at the Royal Air Show” August 2011 Image: wikimedia. Will frequent flier programs change with the climate?

First, it was Greta Thunberg who traveled throughout Europe to speak to, among others, the French National Assembly; the teen climate activist, nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize, declared the transport decision as a preference for lower-emissions travel. A new word came into common parlance: Flygskam (Swedish) or “Flight Shame.”

Greta Thunberg who traveled by train in Europe and by sailboat to the United Nations in New York, USA, in 2019. Image: wikimedia

Next, Imperial College London and Richard Carmichael reported to the Committee on Climate Change (CCC), an independent advisory agency of the UK government, that the nation’s goal of carbon neutrality by 2050, to meet the Paris Agreement of COP21, must address air travel: “Flying is a uniquely high-impact activity and is the quickest and cheapest way for a consumer to increase their carbon footprint.”

As a result, frequent flier programs, both of airlines and of credit cards, might have to go. Citing data that just 15% of the UK population takes 70% of the flights, CCC report states: “Given the scope for frequent fliers to have carbon footprints many times that of the average UK household, a lack of policy in this area is likely to be increasingly seen as inconsistent and unjust and risks damaging engagement with climate action.” (Carmichael 2019)

In the United States, 12% of Americans fly more than six round-trips per year; mainly business travelers, these frequent fliers are responsible for two-thirds of air travel, and therefore participating in aviation emissions. That’s 3 tons of carbon dioxide per year, per flier. Some policy specialists differentiate between business and pleasure air travel. But 83% of Americans drive cars, and most heat or cool their homes – activities that also cause considerable carbon emissions.

Concerned about aviation’s future, some airlines are staying ahead of the trend: British Airways, Aer Lingus, and Iberia (art of IAG, International Airlines Group) announced a strategic sustainability plan to 1)replace older aircraft, 2)invest in sustainable jet fuel, and 3) develop new technologies that take carbon out of the atmosphere. (Guy, 2019) Businesses and universities are starting to allow longer travel time for staff who travel for work, so that they may avoid flying; train travel, including the Channel Tunnel, is recommended. Japan is updating Shinkansen (high speed rail originally built for the 1956 Olympics) in anticipation of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games.

Saying “bye” to frequent flier programs? Image: wikimedia

Do you have frequent flier miles? What is your opinion on how incentives in transport may change?

Carmichael, Richard. “Behavior change, public engagement, and Net Zero.” 10 October 2019. Committee on Climate Change, Centre for Energy Policy and Technology and Centre for Environmental Policy, Imperial College London. https://www.theccc.org.uk/publication/behaviour-change-public-engagement-and-net-zero-imperial-college-london/behaviour-change-public-engagement-and-net-zero-richard-carmichael/

Guy, Jack. “Ban air miles to combat climate crisis, recommends UK research.” 15 October 2019. CNN/Travel. https://www.cnn.com/travel/article/air-miles-ban-report-scli-intl/index.html.

International Airlines Group (IAG). “Sustainability.” https://www.iairgroup.com/en/sustainability

Tabuchi, Hiroko and Nadja Popovich. “How Guilty Should You Feel About Flying?” 17 October 2019, The New York Times. https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2019/10/17/climate/flying-shame-emissions.html.

Thunberg, Greta. “Address to the National Assembly” July 23, 2019. France. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ESDpzwWrmGg

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

July 25, 2019
by Building The World
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TRANSPORT: Flygskam (Flight Shame)

“C-141 Starlifter over Antarctica.” Photographer Gralo. Image: wikimedia.

Flight shame, or as coined in Sweden “Flygskam,” is taking off. The movement prompted France to levy a flight tax ranging from 2-18 euros. KLM celebrated its 100th anniversary with a campaign urging passengers to fly less, stating that aviation causes 3% of human-caused carbon emissions. Recommended transport alternative for short distances: trains. Japan is upgrading fast-train system, Shinkansen, in time for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. The Channel Tunnel and EuroStar encouraged travelers to take the train. Will the United States, developer of the market-changing Transcontinental Railroad, redesign tracks for mag-lev or hyper-loop?

Greta Thunberg speaking at French Parliament 2019. Image: wikimedia.

Flygskam began when Olympic gold medalist Bjorn Ferry, and others championed the movement including climate activist Greta Thunberg; the teen nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize completed a climate-change European speaking tour mostly by train, urging travelers to forgo short-haul flying. As linguists note, every neologism might give rise to its opposite: now there is a new term:Tagskryt” or “train bragging.”

BBC. “What is flygskam? Greta speaks up about ‘flight-shaming.'” 19 July 2019. https://www.bbc.co.uk/newsround/49032117/

Elking, Isaac and Robert Windle. “Examining Differences in Short-Haul and Long-Haul Markets in US Commercial Airline Passenger Demand.” Transportation Journal. Vol. 53, No. 4 (Fall 2014), pp. 424-452. https://www.jstor.org/stable/10.5325/transportationj.53.4.0424.

KLM. “Fly Responsibly.” https://flyresponsibly.klm.com/en

Pennetier, Marine and Geert De Clereq. “France to tax flights from its airports, airline shares fall.” 9 July 2019. Reuters. https://www.reuters.com/aticle/us-france-airlines-tax/france-plans-new-tax-on-outbound-flights-airline-shares-fall-idUSKCN1U412B.

PRI. Public Radio International. “‘Flight shame’ in Sweden prompts rail-only travel movement.” 30 April 2019. PRI’s The World. https://www.pri.org/stories/2019-04-30/flight-shame-sweden-promts-rail-only-travel-movement.

Thunberg, Greta. “Speech at French Parliament” 23 July 2019. @GretaThunberg. https://mobile.twitter.com/gretathunberg/status/1153940926517194752/ and https://www.facebook.com/gretathunbergsweden/

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

January 1, 2018
by Building The World
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2018: Celebrate the 8’s

“Green 8 in a Sea of Blue.” Earth Observatory Image: https://eoimages.gsfc.nasa.gov.

Seen from space, the Americas look a bit like a green 8 in a sea of blue. One glance reveals our planet is made of regions, not nations. Rivers do not stop at lines arbitrarily drawn on a map: transboundary waters are shared resources. Another interconnection: land use, including transport. Great rail systems of history such as the Trans-Siberian or Canadian Pacific railways redefined connection through rapidly advancing transit technologies. Now, electric highways, autonomous vehicles, and hyperloop transit could link continents in innovation.

In 2018, Canada, Mexico, and the United States debate the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). Negotiations should include transboundary water resources; legal precedent of the Colorado River Compact may help address current considerations. Nafta truckers could pioneer automated highways that might steer negotiations. But Nafta may be too small to address macro issues.

Is it now time to extend the north american discussion, to a broader regional scope? Afta Nafta. Decisions about water quality in one nation may impact another; transit links continents, not countries. Oceans may ultimately determine the fate of cities: from Natal to New York, many are coastal. What if everyone in the Americas learned at least one of the languages of their neighbors? Language-based education and cultural exchange might stir innovation in areas such as shared water resources, intelligent highways, public health, and rights. Could there be a regional tour of beauty, instead of a tour of duty? Xchange students and volunteers could form corps maintaining readiness for disaster response (by definition, regional) while practicing environmental service, in an updated CCC of the Americas. Potential logo? Green 8 in a Circle of Blue.

It might be noted that 8, viewed on the horizontal plane, is the infinity symbol. System scientists may suggest that two interconnecting loops could form a renewing system. The infinity symbol was the creation, in 1655, of John Wallis (he also served as chief cryptographer for Parliament). Whether it remains infinite or not, our shared environment depends upon our actions. Perhaps it is time to dedicate at least one year, per decade, to improvement of our shared resources: celebrate the 8’s by honoring interconnection.

“Infinity Symbol” Image: wikimedia commons

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

August 25, 2017
by Building The World
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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

February 10, 2017
by Building The World
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Trains that fly

Trains that fly: Hyperloop. Image: Camilo Sanchez, 2015. Wikimedia commons

Trains that fly? In tubes? Like the Channel Tunnel designed for trains, Hyperloop (a term coined by Elon Musk; the competition is sponsored by SpaceX), uses tubes to enhance transport. The difference? These trains fly: Hyperloop is maglev. In development through open competitions inviting students to design the transit pods, HyperLoop has now achieved another milestone: first-ever low pressure Hyperloop flight. MIT won the award for safety and reliability, placing in the top three along with Delft University of Technology and Team Warr (pronounced Varr) of the Technical University of Munich. The goal? Los Angeles to San Francisco, or Amsterdam to Paris, in 30 minutes.

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.

December 31, 2016
by Building The World
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New Year’s Bonus

“Happy New Year” by Leandro Neumann Ciuffo, photographer. Image: wikimedia commons, 1 January 2013, Copacabana, Rio de Janiero.

The traditional New Year’s Eve kiss might linger a little longer, this year. The world will add one second tonight as 11:59:59 flutters a new beat, according to the International Earth Rotation Reference System Service (IERS). Global time was the idea of Sandford Fleming, surveyor for the Canadian Pacific Railway: new train systems across the continent required precise coordination. Google, however, is handling the extra second in an extra-long fashion: the tech giant is running computer clocks slower by 0.0014% for ten hours before, and after, the midnight hour. Osculatory results may be observed.

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.

November 18, 2016
by Building The World
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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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