July 20, 2019 - CHAPTER 6 - On the Road
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Author:  KindaSkolarly [ Fri Aug 30, 2019 7:48 pm ]
Post subject:  July 20, 2019 - CHAPTER 6 - On the Road

This chapter deals with modes of transportation in the future. Clarke cites examples of what was state-of-the-art technology in 1986 and does a lot of extrapolation based on those examples.

CARS - Will have bodies made of plastics and composites. Turbocharged engines and diesels will largely replace traditional gasoline engines. Electronics will give constant readings on the car and, "on-board navigation will make it impossible to get lost." Microchips will help mechanics identify problems and so on.

TRAINS - Maglevs (magnetically levitated trains) will be in wide use. By the early 1990s the Transrapid will be shuttling passengers between Los Angeles and Las Vegas.

HOVERCRAFT - Hovercraft will eventually reach sizes as large as 100,000 tons, but in 2019 they will merely be used as ferries and as naval craft.

MAGNETOHYDRODYNAMICS - This technology will challenge the screw propeller on ships. Clarke also says that ways to reduce water friction in ships will be developed. This made me think of the Russian VA-111 Shkval torpedo, which uses supercavitation.

AIR TRAVEL - Engines will develop to a point where metal fuselages won't be able to withstand the heat, so there will be research into new materials. Space planes will be able to achieve orbit with horizontal takeoff (versus vertical) by the year 2000.

SPACE TRAVEL - We will have a lunar base serviced by Orbital Transfer Vehicles (OTVs) early in the 21st century, and we may also have a starship capable of interstellar flight. A couple of engines that could make this possible are described.

Clarke often got into details of hard science in his writing. This chapter is filled with technical explanations, descriptions of experiments and so on. He uses layman's wording, but it's still kind of techno. While many of the smaller predictions here have come to pass, most of the larger ones haven't. Or if they did I couldn't find records with my internet searches. Some of the ideas are still being kicked around, but not very seriously. Not in America at any rate. I expect Clarke would have been disappointed.

Some of the things that Clarke thought would be in wide use by now:
* Magnetohydrodynamic drive -
* Transrapid -
* Hovercraft -
* Supersonic Transport - ... 180952125/

We've had space planes for some time. But that's military technology and not in the news very much. However there's this article, from a few weeks ago:

X-37B Military Space Plane's Latest Mystery Mission Hits 700 Days ... -days.html

A recent article about private space travel:
Virgin Galactic reveals futuristic outpost for space tourism ... space.html

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