The Longest Now


Daily vibe : vactrains, universal dictionaries
Thursday October 09th 2008, 11:02 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

Vactrains : Very High Speed Transportation, Planetran, and Channel Tunnel engineers

I stumbled upon a lovely article on various “vactrain” ideas : for a high-speed train running in low-pressure tubes with minimal air resistance, powered by superconducting magnetics and regenerating most of the energy from each trip.  1-hr commutes between NY and LA or across an ocean.

  • Robert Salter was in the 1970s the first promoter of this idea after it had become physically feasible.  While he was at RAND, he published detailed papers on the subject and applied for related patents on behalf of the government.
  • Frank Davidson and Yoshihiro Kyonati are recent enthusiasts for a version floated above the ocean floor, anchored by cables.
  • For fun, see also Bernhard Kellermann‘s million-copy bestseller, Der Tunnel.

Universal dictionaries : OmegaWiki, XOXO

Back in 1998 I drafted a design for a universal dictionary, with detailed usage, history, etymology, synonym and translation information — similar to the OED but covering the major human languages.  I’ll post more about this in a bit (parts of that design are going into OLPC’s XO-2 laptop, to my delight), but in the meantime it’s worth noting how far we’ve come with other massively multilingual dictionary projects.


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