Thursday, January 12, 2006

The transatlantic underwater railroad tunnel: An investment nightmare

I know that Discovery probably featured the possibility of this engineering marvel a few years ago. However, it was brought to my attention only a few days back. I was fascinated by the implications of this railroad tunnel. A travel time of 52 minutes from New York City to London is stupendous. It's five times faster than the Late super-sonic Concorde. A thousand passengers traveling in utmost comfort, at a mind blowing speed of 5000 mph. The kick that this project would create will be great for engineering and science in general because new technologies have to be invented and old ones streamlined for such a dangerous endeavor. It would be great for our world because it would need global alliances for a project of this scale. Investment-wise think International Space Station, but on earth. Actually, underwater. Across the most tumultuous water body on the planet.

Okay. Now to the reasons why I think a transatlantic railroad system is unnecessary.

For one, it calls for an investment in the range of tens of TRILLIONS of dollars. Amm. Now, do you see any country being able to invest even a trillion dollars to the project with the current economic levels. Do you think US can invest so much, with Iraq and tax cuts draining the countrys resources and Treasury? I certainly dont see the UK putting that much of money in. Or any other country. When people suggest Japan, yeah, it hasgot a lot of money. But how many know that Japans economy has been in a slump for the past decade. The amount of money speculated is just too much. The International Space Station has been hampered by similar money flow issues. So, it is way behind on the construction schedule. Sad, thats an investment which is good for the future.

Second, hypersonic flight has been a success. Granted it was military, but it is being streamlined for commercial flights. We dont need a railroad. We can make the same time by air. Well, not now, but in the very near future.Investing in something that is bound to become obsolete is like companies that were investing in DSL while clearly the future lies with optical lines. Google was extremely smart in this case, when it bought all those old fiber optic lines from communication companies at rock-bottom prices. But Google and its investments is another discussion all together.

Probably the most important negating factor in the present world is Terrorism. Unless we rid the world of malevolent entities, every major engineering investment has a potential hazard. Okay, maybe on US soil, engineering feats like mile-high skyscrapers are safe but in international waters, it isnt. You must know how easy it would be blow up the tunnel in open water, especially if it is 3200 mile long target. Talk about backlash it would receive. The Concorde was junked after only a few accidents. Well, yeah, it was money draining endeavor but still a step in the future. Do you think people would want to travel with such potential hazards? Before people mention that flights are equally at danger. I dont think so. Planes are not a static target. A tunnel is. So the danger of mishaps grows exponentially.

Yeah, I am going to into science where I need people to think about the future and progress. But I am a pragmatist.

Tags: Science, Opinion

[Listening to: Holiday - The Get Up Kids - Something To Write Home About (3:29)]

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