Wednesday, October 6, 2010

pneumatic transportation: the stuff of dreams

For centuries, the concept of human transportation via pneumatic tube has captured the imagination of entrepreneurs, novelists, tinkerers and inventors.  I have already posted about the grandest dreamer of them all, Alfred Beach, whose pneumatic subway system was thwarted by politics and personal vendettas. 

Speeding into the future, the world of Futurama is connected via a vast pneumatic tube network.  Whilst Beach’s subway was never realised in its original form, and Futurama’s system is the stuff of science fiction, there are nonetheless a number of ways in which humans can be catapulted through the atmosphere via pneumatics.  There are the nifty elevators for one, and now something which has recently captured my attention, the shweeb.  OK, so the shweeb doesn’t really count as pneumatic transport (and is much more about pedal power), but it certainly resembles a pneumatic capsule.  Google has recently backed the invention, with many asking: why?  Should such inventions remain the stuff of dreams and TV shows?

Beach pneumatic plan from Wikimedia Commons.

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