GOOD

Japan Will Build Blazingly Fast Tokyo to Osaka Maglev Train Japan Will Build Blazingly Fast Tokyo to Osaka Maglev Train

Imagine making it from New York to D.C. in 45 minutes. That's how quickly Japan's maglev train will make it from Tokyo to Nagoya.

The route between Tokyo and Nagoya, Japan, stretches about 225 miles, the same distance that separates New York City from Boston and from Washington, D.C. For more than three decades, Japan has been considering building a train that would cut travel time between Tokyo and Nagoya to about 45 minutes. The line would use maglev technology, which channels magnetic force to levitate the train almost four inches above the track and propel it forward at speeds over 300 miles per hour.


But building a maglev train requires more money than most people can imagine: The cost for a route covering the 320 miles from Tokyo to Osaka has been pegged at 9 trillion yen or roughly $112 billion. Because of the cost, Japan has dithered over the project for years, until last month, when the government gave the Central Japan Railway permission to go ahead with it.

Imagine making it from New York to D.C. in 45 minutes instead of four hours, East Coasters. Imagine making it from Boston to D.C. in an hour and half, instead of nine. West Coasters, you could be flying from Los Angeles to Las Vegas in under an hour. Getting from Minneapolis to Chicago could take no more than an hour and twenty minutes. That’s what a train like the one Japan is building would mean in the United States.

Adopting this technology, though, requires long-term vision about transportation, which the United States has been lacking lately. Because the trains run on electricity, they’re already cleaner than fuel-burning trains, and as clean energy projects like solar and wind come online, maglev trains can pull power from those sources. But on top of the cost, building a maglev system takes time: The Tokyo-Nagoya branch of the Japanese train won’t be finished until 2027, sixteen years from now.

The system’s high cost comes in part from Central Japan Railway’s decision to make the route as straight as possible, sending it under mountains. (The trains will run through tunnels for 60 percent of the ride.) While high-speed trains like Amtrak’s Acela can run at slower speeds on tracks designed for traditional trains, maglevs require unique rail infrastructure, an expensive proposition.

Once they’re built, however, maglev tracks last longer. The trains we ride right now scrape metal wheels against metal rails, which wear down relatively quickly. The only friction between maglev trains and their track is air friction, easier on the metal tracks. The longevity of the infrastructure is an important selling point. To date, the cost of building maglev trains has outstripped any profits, and the trains will have to run efficiently for many years, with low overhead costs, to make financial sense.

In the United States, the most likely maglev train project is an L.A. to Las Vegas route, an idea that’s been floating around for two decades or so and has received a trickle of government funding. Its estimated total cost would come to $12 billion, a pittance compared to the Japanese project. At least one member of the administration, however, has been impressed by what maglev trains can do. Current Secretary of Transportation, Ray LaHood, took a ride on Japan’s maglev test track last year. His reaction: “I have to say, those trains are fast. Very fast."

Photo courtesy of flickr user yui.kubo

Articles
via David Leavitt / Twitter

Anyone who has ever worked in retail knows that the worst thing about the job, right after the pay, are the unreasonable cheapskates who "want to talk to your manager" to get some money off an item.

They think that throwing a tantrum will save them a few bucks and don't care if they completely embarrass themselves in the process. Sometimes that involves belittling the poor employee who's just trying to get through their day with an ounce of dignity.

Twitter is rallying around a gal named Tori who works at a Target in Massachusetts after she was tweet-shamed by irate chapekate, journalist, and Twitter troll, David Leavitt.

Keep Reading
Business

Childbirth is the number one reason American women visit the hospital, and it ain't cheap. In fact, it's getting more and more expensive. A new study published in Health Affairs found that the cost of having a baby with employer-sponsored health insurance increased by almost 50% in the past seven years.

The study evaluated "trends in cost-sharing for maternity care for women with employer-based health insurance plans, before and after the Affordable Care Act," which was signed into law in 2010. The study looked at over 657,061 women enrolled in large employer-sponsored health insurance plans who delivered babies between 2008 and 2015, as these plans tend to cover more than plans purchased by small businesses or individuals.

Keep Reading
Health

A meteorite crashed into Earth nearly 800,000 years ago. The meteor was 1.2 miles wide, and the impact was so big, it covered 10% of the planet with debris. However, scientists haven't been able to find the impact site for over a century. That is, until now. A study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences journal believes the crash site has been located.

Tektites, which are essentially rocks that have been liquefied from the heat of the impact and then cooled to form glass, help scientists spot the original impact site of a meteor. Upon impact, melted material is thrown into the atmosphere, then falls back to the ground. Even if the original crater has disappeared due to erosion or is hidden by a shift in tectonic plates, tektites give the spot away. Tektites between 750,000 to 35.5 million years old have been found in every continent except Antarctica.

Keep Reading