Hyperloops and an excerpt from The Last Firewall

The online world is buzzing with news of Elon Musk's hyperloop, a very fast transportation system that could take people from LA to NY in under an hour. Elon will reveal the details of the system on August 12th, as he mentioned on Twitter.

He's been talking about it for over a year, and has said:
"This system I have in mind, how would you like something that can never crash, is immune to weather, it goes 3 or 4 times faster than the bullet train. It goes an average speed of twice what an aircraft would do. You would go from downtown LA to downtown San Francisco in under 30 minutes. It would cost you much less than an air ticket than any other mode of transport. I think we could actually make it self-powering if you put solar panels on it, you generate more power than you would consume in the system. There's a way to store the power so it would run 24/7 without using batteries. Yes, this is possible, absolutely."
This widely shared concept photo is actually the Aeromovel, a pneumatic train system:

It's pretty awesome stuff.

Small spoiler alert! Don't read further unless you want to see a tiny bit of a scene from the last half of The Last Firewall.

Now the one problem with writing near-term science fiction is that stuff keeps coming true before I can get the books out. In this case, I have a vactrain in The Last Firewall. Leon and Mike must hijack the train to avoid detection. Here's part of the scene where they discuss it:
“Now how do we get to Tucson?” Leon asked. “We are not driving again.”
Mike stared off into space. “I have an idea: the Continental.”
The super-sonic subterranean maglev was an early gift from AI-kind to humans, running in a partial vacuum at a peak of three thousand miles an hour.
“The train only stops in LA and NY,” Leon said. “And besides, we’ll be listed on the passenger manifest.”
“There are emergency exits.” Mike pushed a link over in netspace. “And with your new implant, can you hack the manifest?”
Leon glanced at the shared news article, accompanied by a photograph of a small concrete building peeking out of a cactus covered landscape.
“Marana, Arizona, about a half hour north of Tucson,” Mike said. “Emergency egress number three.”
“So we hop on the Continental and trigger an emergency stop when we’re near the exit?”
“Exactly,” Mike said. “Think that hopped-up implant of yours can fool some train sensors?”
It's one of my favorite bits of technology in the book, and I was daydreaming about it before I even starting writing the first draft. Now thanks to Elon Musk, we may all get to ride in it.

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