High speed rail

Proposed route of train from Los Angeles, California to London.

[ 14/June/22 ]

To get across the Bering Strait there are only 2 40km tunnel segments required.

The big issues isn’t the strait, it is the tectonic activity of North America. If you want a really high speed train, then you need to put it in a vacuum tunnel (reduce air resistance). Once you do that, and you get the speed up, then the effects of even quite small lateral shifts in the track can generate massive G forces inside the train. So you need to base isolate the track to cope. If you are near a fault zone, then that can requires some large engineering. I live in Kaikoura New Zealand, and 5 years ago we had a big quake here (7.8), the maximum displacements I have personally inspected are 7.9m vertical and 12m lateral. It takes a lot engineering to be able to isolate in 3 dimensions for 12m displacement. The alternative is to reduce speed through such zones.

The technology is relatively trivial, compared to changing levels of understanding and dogma present. Most people still have “faith” in stories that have been disproven far beyond any reasonable doubt, and the vast majority of those who have gone beyond faith into the eternal uncertainty of science, are still operating from very simplistic models that have competition at the base of their understanding of the evolution of complexity. The reality seems (beyond any remaining shadow of reasonable doubt) that all new levels of complexity are base upon, and sustained by, new levels of cooperation. And while there is eternally a set of competitive aspects to any evolved system; it is much more accurate to say that the evolution of complex systems is fundamentally based in and sustained by cooperation.

Current social dogma that competition outweighs cooperation will necessarily self terminate. It could not be more wrong if it tried. It is sustained by a form of confirmation bias aided by very strong biases in our neural networks to prefer simplicity to complexity (which are entirely understandable from an evolutionary perspective, but also have a very strong tendency to self terminate at higher orders of complexity – and are my prime candidate for the “Great Filter”).

So as others have noted, it is doable, in an engineering sense, and it has some strong engineering challenges, and some of the sections will be quite low speed (under 150km/hr).

If we get cooperation between diverse social systems on Earth (not any sort of hegemony or “one world order”, but a universal acceptance that real freedom results in diversity in all dimensions, necessarily), then developing and deploying near fully automated manufacturing systems to the moon would allow us to construct most of such a network in orbit using solar energy and lunar mass, off planet, and then land it on earth and essentially bolt the segments together and have it operational in a relatively short period. Easily achievable in a decade if we get remote manufacturing on the moon doubling in capacity every month.

But it requires that all levels of self aware agents accept that hegemony and freedom are polar opposites.

If any agent values freedom, then they must, of logical necessity (in any class of logic) accept and respect any diversity that results from such freedom that is not an actual and unreasonable threat to their existence.

[followed by]

Hi Brian,

2 different things.

Most people do not currently think they have much chance of living indefinitely, so don’t really think through long term risks. I have understood since 1974 that I have a finite if small probability of living for the remainder of eternity. So I tend to look for long term (billions of years) minimal risk options.

I don’t really class any current “high speed” trains as a really high speed train, as they travel in air, so can’t go really fast due to resistance and heating effects (they are essentially restricted to subsonic speeds). If you place a maglev train in a vacuum then no such restrictions apply, and you can get much faster than air travel speeds. That to me is a “high speed train”, greater than Mach 5.

[followed by 15 June – separate subthread]

Vaughn Bresheare
Unfortunately that is an outcome of a system that does not accept that there is a fundamental need for cooperation to sustain complexity. Such a system can sustain itself for a while, but the internal strategic and systemic forces breaking it apart build up, as you are experiencing.

Any social system that is to survive has to meet the reasonable needs of all of its citizens. Part of the reason the Roman empire lasted so long was that they did (for the most part) appreciate at least that much.

We are all, as human beings, deeply complex.

Even the worst of us has aspects that are good and noble, and even the best of us have aspects that are deeply on the “dark side”. There is no simple divide between good and evil that is applicable to individual people – we are all deeply more complex than that. Political systems that intentionally over simplify that reality to build partisan support must eventually self destruct.

The only real counter for it is for individuals to start taking responsibility, to cooperate as and when it is appropriate and safe to do so. To build relationship and trust with those most different and most easily demonized.

It is hard, and potentially dangerous, and needs to be done with full awareness; and it needs to be done.

Respect is fundamental to coexistence.

Diversity is the necessary outcome of any real freedom.

And even here in Kaikoura there are righteous forces demonizing other groups. It takes a fair amount of effort to mitigate the worst of the tendencies, and maintain communication (at least such as it is).

About Ted Howard NZ

Seems like I might be a cancer survivor. Thinking about the systemic incentives within the world we find ourselves in, and how we might adjust them to provide an environment that supports everyone (no exceptions) with reasonable security, tools, resources and degrees of freedom, and reasonable examples of the natural environment; and that is going to demand responsibility from all of us - see www.tedhowardnz.com/money
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