Dream big—here comes the HyperloopAs the meme goes, sometimes cool technology really is just a series of tubes. That's the Hyperloop in a nutshell: a futuristic, high-speed transportation system designed to whisk passengers and cargo from one city to another through a giant series of low-pressure vacuum tubes. Passenger pods would whiz by at near-supersonic speeds, traveling from New York to Washington, D.C. in just 29 minutes. New Yorkers might find themselves in the nation's capital faster than it takes to get from one part of the city to another. It's an audacious, thrilling idea that could revolutionize how we work and conduct business. The Hyperloop does have its haters. As WIRED reports, many observers think it's a naive foray into public transportation, which is legendary for regulatory red tape and heart attack-inducing costs. Even the first phase of New York's 2nd Avenue subway line construction—which involved developing two miles of track under Manhattan—cost a cool $4.45 billion. Compare this figure with Elon Musk's early claim that it will cost only $6 billion to build a Hyperloop between Los Angeles and San Francisco, and you'll understand why there are skeptics out there. Musk recently announced he's been given "verbal government approval" to proceed with his project to connect cities on the East Coast. New Yorkers—who are done dealing with a crumbling subway system suffering from decades of inadequate investment—implored Musk to fix the subway first. Given the obvious decline of American infrastructure, it might seem like Musk is putting the cart before the horse with his bold vision of "revolutionizing terrestrial transportation," as he put it. But maybe a moon shot on Earth is exactly what we need to succeed on both fronts. Musk clearly thinks so: He just announced another project to provide city-to-city rocket travel across the globe. Whatever the solution, we need to set a daring goal to make meaningful progress. When it comes to the future of remote work, the Hyperloop could be a tremendously positive development.
Go, Speed Racer: bullet trains in China, India, and Japan
While we're debating whether a Hyperloop is even possible in the United States, countries like China, India, and Japan are off to the races. According to Curbed, China just launched the fastest fleet of bullet trains in the world. Dubbed Fuxing, or "Regeneration," they reach a maximum speed of 248 miles per hour, linking Beijing and Shanghai in four and a half hours. Meanwhile, India teamed up with Japan to develop its first ever bullet train project between Ahmedabad and Mumbai. This high-speed rail line, expected to open for service in five years, will slash the travel time between the cities from eight hours to three.
Japan is home to the original bullet train, Shinkansen, which means "new trunk line" in Japanese. The Guardian explains it was launched just before the 1964 Tokyo Olympics as a dramatic symbol of the country's resilient post-WWII recovery and breathtaking rise to economic superpower status. Japan recognized then, as Elon Musk does today, that pioneering a bold new transportation project is about more than making people's lives efficient—it's about committing to a hopeful, optimistic future in which anything is possible. More than 50 years later, the island nation is still extending its high-speed rail network and reaping the economic benefits.