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Plasma Train

From here to there faster than an airplane.
  (+3, -1)
(+3, -1)
  [vote for,

The biggest problem with making anything go fast, other than power considerations, is air resistance. Once you get up to the speeds that everyone longs for (e.g. supersonic), the resistance caused by passing air makes traveling very innefficient. Think of it this way : a sonic boom is a huge release of energy (sonic form) that you can even see in the air ! That much power came from wind building up on the wings of planes, which detracts from it's fuel efficency by sucking away its power.

I propose a high-powered lazer mounted to the front of a magnetic train, along with strong magnets at its front.

The train builds up until it hits just below Mach 1 (which isn't really possible with today's tech, read on). Then it activates its lazer, instantly super-heating the air in front of it, and generating huge amounts of plasma.

Now plasma is a very interesting state of matter; one of its interesting traits is its response to magnetism. It moves.

All we have to do now is push the plasma in front of us away from the train, thus creating a partial vacuum if, and only if, a seal can be made with the train, by the plasma.

The only problem I can possibly see is if the plasma exerts a force backwards towards the train (similar to how you feel resistance when you bring two poles together). Then the effects would be nullified and you'd just have an overpowered destructive device.

But I'm sure you could still find uses for that.

Raithah, Oct 28 2006

Wikipedia's Plasma http://en.wikipedia...lasma_%28physics%29
'plasma electrically conductive so that it responds strongly to electromagnetic fields.' [Raithah, Oct 28 2006]

Wikipedia's Laser http://en.wikipedia...ons_by_output_power
'higher intensity pulsed beams, the air can be heated to the point where it becomes a plasma' [Raithah, Oct 28 2006]


       The laser probably won't generate plasma, but it conceivably would create a low pressure tunnel through the air for the train to pass through. (This has been proposed as a mechanism for clearing the atmosphere out of the way of particle beams.)   

       Interesting idea, though I think the stress on the train tracks and the wheels would be a big problem at supersonic speeds.
DrCurry, Oct 28 2006

       Yes, but see this is a maglev train. Overlooking the obvious problem that controlling the plasma would seriously screw up the train, it could still conceivably work.   

       So no wheels or tracks to worry about :)   

       Edit: And yes, lazers do make plasma. A lot of it. In fact that's a problem to ever building weapons grade devices.
Raithah, Oct 28 2006

       1. I'm tipsy   

       2. spelt laser not lazer.   

       3. I have no idea how 'plasmified' air interacts with magnetism, but I'm sure it's complex.   

       4. show me a link to how a laser can plasmify air in significant quantities (while moving at mach 1).   

       5. if you're worried about friction with air, wouldn't it be easier to build a tunnel around train tracks and evacuate the air?
xaviergisz, Oct 28 2006

       To xaviergisz : you'd have to continualy evacuate the air out of the tunnel, it wouldn't ever make a perfect seal to the train so air would come in :)   

       I can't tell you how much plasma it can make, but the laser (sorry for the misspelling) was only one idea. Hell, you could use a railgun (linked) if you modified it enough. And I'm pretty sure speed is irrelevant (thought not entirely).   

       To 21 Quest : Lazers don't bend, but can be aimed. All that's needed to do is reflect it from a vacuum sealed compartment (so as not to reduce power) into the curve, possibly slowing down the train by increased friction, but still moving very quickly.   

       Here's what you can do to prove that it can work : take your bike, and hold a stick in your bad hand (for me it's my left). Now make a turn towards your bad hand (e.g. for me to the left) and move the stick into the turn as you move the bike. Now, if you can imagine two lines on approx. ninety degree angles to each other with the apex on that stick, you can imagine how taking a turn might work.   

       And just lettn' ya know : in the event that a light mag-lev train derailed (which in itself is very difficult), it would rapidly loose it's speed. One it has next to no inertia because of it's comparitively low weight (compared to conventional trains), and two you could incorporate a device that turns off the lazer which causes said air friction to slow the train down.   

       And please : I never said that this wouldn't go underground. In fact that may actualy work better.
Raithah, Oct 28 2006


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