The Hyperloop, the super futuristic, slightly insane method of transport from Elon Musk, soon will launch as an open-source project.
On Monday, SpaceX founder and Ironman Tony Stark doppelganger Musk tweeted this:
Will publish Hyperloop alpha design by Aug 12. Critical feedback for improvements would be much appreciated.— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) July 15, 2013
Musk later clarified that he does not plan to pursue a patent on the hyperloop and "will publish Hyperloop as open source."
So, what the heck is a hyperloop? Well, Musk has yet to confirm exactly what his design entails, but in the past he has described it as an alternative to bullet trains and capable of moving people from San Francisco to Los Angeles in 30 minutes on demand. This means no waiting around for scheduled trains. If you show up and there's no line, you just hop into a waiting pod of some sort and you are on your way.
Musk also has said the system would be crash-proof and unaffected by weather, which points to some sort of underground or fully enclosed technology. He also has hinted that it's not a vacuum tube, describing it instead as a cross between a rail gun, Concorde, and air hockey table.
If you don't have a degree in physics, these clues probably still leave you scratching your head. Fortunately, my colleague Brian Dodson is a writer with a Ph.D. on the topic, and he spent some time a few weeks back speculating on what the hyperloop might be, using the crumbs that Musk has provided.
Dodson thinks that the loop could be a series of pneumatic tubes that move individual passenger capsules along a river of air (hence, the air hockey reference) at subsonic speeds.
There are other guesses out there on what exactly Musk's plans entail. Whatever the plan, it's sure to include a healthy serving of awesome, if SpaceX's successes are any indication.
What do you think will be revealed next month?