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Intercontinental travel


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#1
Caiman

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For around 40 years until the early 2000s we had a means of travelling, commercially, very quickly between continents thanks to Concorde. Ever since its retirement the fastest way to get across the ocean or a vast swathe of land for the business or leisure travellers is via commercial jet. How much longer do you think they will reign on speed? Will supersonic commercial airliners make a comeback? Concorde was stifled mainly by the fact a negative campaign against how noisy it was became successful in various places around the world, and the fact that to be economical required it to be an entirely premium service. Could a supersonic airliner ever operate in a two or three class layout? What other technologies could speed up the way we get from London to New York, or Sydney to Los Angeles, or Cape Town to Tokyo? Hypersonic ramjets cruising twice as high as current aircraft? Rocket planes that take a shortcut through space? Supersonic ocean submerged maglev trains through vacuum sealed tunnels? There are a few references on the timeline, but I'm interested in discussing what barriers might stand in the way, or what economic circumstances will justify a change to the status quo.
~Jon

#2
BLZBUB

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What other technologies could speed up the way we get from London to New York, or Sydney to Los Angeles, or Cape Town to Tokyo? Hypersonic ramjets cruising twice as high as current aircraft? Rocket planes that take a shortcut through space? Supersonic ocean submerged maglev trains through vacuum sealed tunnels? There are a few references on the timeline, but I'm interested in discussing what barriers might stand in the way, or what economic circumstances will justify a change to the status quo.


I firmly believe the age of the commercial jet is fast coming to a close. Thus, as resources for fuel continue to deplete and their component prices continue to rise, we will see a shift to other transportation modes. That being said, the use of 'Rocket planes' and the like will also go the way of the Dodo.

As to these barriers? Well, although the chunnel and it's ilk have begun appearing in various places around the planet, one well placed seismic event will take one apart in seconds. Same goes for a MagLev tracks on land, although I believe current tech could probably prevent serious catastrophe in cases of seismic destruction of the track.

So, all said, I think the relatively 'young' age of our planet is the major drawback to high-speed transportation technology at the present. Until we can design absolutely fool-proof systems that can negate natural events from interrupting those systems, I think we are condemned to continue on as-is until the oil runs out.
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#3
Chronomaster

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Quantum Teleportation will eliminate the need for any form of transport. Okay, maybe not [for a very long time, if ever!] In the long term, I like the idea of space elevators, or enormously tall superstructures with superfast elevators, whisking you up above the atmosphere where you can jump on a ship that scoots over to an elevator on another continent and you ride down to the surface, all in less than an hour or so. Perhaps that's a pipe dream, the technology and resources necessary would be enormous. In the short term I agree that commercial airliners as we know them probably won't be around for as long as they already have been, though really it's only the jet engine that's at risk there- an alternative method of propulsion may well be adapted to power similar engines and the basic shape and method of travelling around in subsonic tubes 40,000ft in the air might stay around for a bit longer yet. As for subsurface tunnels, given research into superstrong materials and the results that is yielding I think we're not too far off being able to construct truly earthquake proof structures and they may well be a viable option. It's difficult. Just a hundred years ago would anyone have believed that by the 1970s people would be flying between London and New York in a couple of hours, or that one aircraft could ferry 600 people half way across the world in less than a day?
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#4
Nom du Clavier

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Capital outlay for submerged tunnel is massive, but there's less of an ongoing expense versus rocket planes and what have you. The tunnel could also have multiple levels, with one or two levels for transport of goods help defraying the overall cost for passenger transport through another level, much like this one in Malaysia.

I like the space elevator idea proposed by Chronomaster, but I'm afraid the investment won't be made until we've moved beyond capitalism. That or material science needs to make a massive breakthrough that would make this somewhat 'cheap', relatively speaking.
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#5
BLZBUB

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I have long been a fan and proponent of the space elevator idea.

Current Carbon Nanotube technology is very close to fruition, in the capabilities of strength, toward its use in space elevator construction. It was estimated that the elevator cable would need a material capable of sustaining a length of 4,960 kilometers of its own weight at sea level in order to reach a geostationary altitude of 36,000 km without tapering and without breaking.Carbon nanotube technology is fast approaching this threshold, as well as the graphene ribbon tech as well.

http://en.wikipedia....native_concepts




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