There was a moment, an hour before an event last week, when 30 or so young fresh-faced people stood around their creation and posed for a group photo.
They were in the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) museum in Cambridge, Massachusetts. All around them, reminders of historic innovations that began with research at this legendary college.
As the photographer clicked away, I wondered – what place in history would this photograph have? Will we look back at these 30 smiles and say, “That was the team that changed the world!”?
If that is to be the case, there is a long road ahead. And indeed, it is long roads that are the motivation for this project. The MIT team is one of several working on Hyperloop, a vision for rapid travel put forth by Silicon Valley’s most interesting man, Elon Musk.
He says the commute from San Francisco to Los Angeles – currently a five-hour drive or an hour of flying – could be cut to 30 minutes.
What is Hyperloop?
Hyperloop is a conceptual transport system in which passengers are loaded into pods and fired through vacuum tubes at more than 600mph (1,000km/h).
Prototype pods have been tested running along magnetic tracks, much like the maglev trains used in countries such as Japan today.
Pumping the air out of the tubes reduces resistance, allowing high speeds to be achieved, potentially using less energy than a train.
The idea could reduce journey times over long distances, but there are many challenges for the rival developers to overcome before any such project can become a reality.
Mr Musk is the boss of Tesla and founder of SpaceX, and when he published in 2013 a white paper outlining a way to use airtight tubes to propel pods at speeds of up to 700mph (1130km/h), he set a challenge to anyone and everyone who wanted to try and build the technology.
Mr Musk isn’t paying the firms, but he has committed to funding a series of tests. The hope is that these will happen in August this year. The target is that by 2021 humans will be travelling on Hyperloops around the world.
The MIT team is one of more than 20 non-commercial groups also designing a Hyperloop pod – with money coming from SpaceX in the form of a competition.
That was split over two phases – a design contest, which MIT won in January, and an on-track test coming up in the summer.
But it all could be a colossal waste of time. The barriers to Hyperloop becoming a reality are enormous – and it’s not just about technology.
Straight and narrow
Part of any visionary’s CV is the ability to ignore the naysayers and focus on your vision. If and when you succeed, everyone backtracks and says they knew you were a genius all along.
Elon Musk is the sort of chap that is used to people telling him he’s wrong. When he set out to make electric cars appeal to petrolheads, he had a lot of people to convince – but somehow, and on the brink of bankruptcy, he got some investors on board.
Yet an awful lot stands in Hyperloop’s way. Literally.
Christopher Merian, chief engineer on MIT’s effort, told me that the key problem with his pod – and the Hyperloop concept in general – is that it can’t handle corners.
So the Hyperloop tube would need to take a rather Roman approach, and go in an almost complete straight line from A to B.
If the proposed route of San Francisco to Los Angeles is to be realised, you’re looking at slicing through some of the most beautiful sights the natural world has to offer, not to mention acre after acre of land belonging to people who may not be too keen on a big fat tube being plonked outside their front door.
Philippe Kirschen, MIT’s team captain, told me he thinks this will lead to Hyperloop being built in a different part of the world with a less strenuous regulatory environment.
Indeed it’s hard to imagine anywhere in the US that would be suitable for Hyperloop, short of shelling out monstrous payouts and a free Tesla or two to people whose lives have been uprooted.
But let’s put that aside and, for the sake of argument, say an agreement has been made and a route between San Francisco and Los Angeles is built. It works, it’s safe and it’s pretty darn marvellous, all told.
Except it is really, really expensive.
Mr Musk says the cost of building the route would be in the region of $6bn (£4.1bn), an estimate most agree is extremely conservative.
Some are calling Hyperloop the new Concorde which, despite being a glorious piece of innovation, ultimately failed due to regulations – it wasn’t allowed to fly at supersonic speeds over land – and a lack of profitability.
A return ticket on Concorde would see you part with several thousand pounds or dollars. Which over time was not considered to be worthwhile trade to save a few hours.
How much will a ticket for Hyperloop cost?
MIT’s pod design – which they said can be scaled up – will likely be able to carry around 20 people at once.
Unless the Hyperloop system can handle a great number of pods leaving a station in very quick succession, tickets for those pods will need to be extremely high in order to make the system economically viable.
Furthermore, if Hyperloop runs from San Francisco to Los Angeles, it will be competing with the currently under-construction California High Speed Rail. The network – due to open in 2025 – promises a journey time of two hours and 40 minutes. Each train will be able to carry well over a thousand people. Tickets, surely, will be a lot cheaper than Hyperloop.
It would leave Hyperloop as an option only for the rich. Public support no doubt would evaporate.
I was something of a partypooper at MIT’s event, I’ll admit – putting all these points to the team on a night designed to celebrate their outstanding efforts thus far.
The math(s) not adding up was a concern, they said – but at the very least, the hope is that developing Hyperloop will create something, even if it’s not the transportation of the future.
There could be many industrial uses for an environmentally friendly Hyperloop-style system.
In 50 years, when we look back at the hopeful, expectant faces in that photograph, it seems unlikely that we’ll see them as the team that changed the way we travel.
But that’s not to say developing Hyperloop – a clean, perhaps revolutionary technology – won’t have been worth it.
There are approximately 35 million people who are millionaires in the world. As Robert J. Samuelson states so perfectly in The Washington Post, “That’s about 5 percent of the U.S. adult population (241 million in 2014), or one in 20. Rarefied, yes; exclusive, no.” Though the population numbers have gone up in the last year, they still prove a point. It’s totally possible for you to become a millionaire.
I personally have been a millionaire several times in my life. I’m an entrepreneur and take chances. Sometimes they pay off and sometimes they don’t. The following are a few of the tips that have helped me to become and stay a millionaire over the past couple years.
While becoming a millionaire rarely occurs overnight, it’s still an achievable dream if you work hard and follow these eight frugal habits.
1. Live Below Your Means
Do you really need to purchase a McMansion? Do you honestly have to have the latest luxury vehicle in your driveway? While status items like these can be enjoyable, even the extremely wealthy have realized that it’s better to live below your means if you want to extend your wealth.
Take Warren Buffett for example. He still resides in the same Omaha home that he pitched in 1958 for under $32,000. Buffett is also known for purchasing modest vehicles, like his 2006 Cadillac, which was auctioned off for charity. Apart from having been owned, and signed, by Buffett, the car was described as “nothing special.”
Around eight years ago, I started making real money. That doesn’t mean that I changed anything in my lifestyle. Sure, I got a few nice things, but I didn’t change the way I lived. This has saved me countless dollars.
2. Never Pay Full Price
Did you know that households that average an income of $100,000 or more use more coupons than households that earn under $35,000 annually? They also don’t shop at luxury stores like Tiffany & Co. or Brooks Brothers. Instead, they prefer to shop at Walmart, Target, and Home Depot.
The wealthy never pay full price for the items they want or need. (My personal experience is that the ultra rich never pay full price for anything.) I personally like to shop on eBay and Craigslist. This helps me get super nice quality things for a much lower price. Note: I still don’t buy crap, I purchase nice things. I just don’t pay full price for them.
3. Cut Out Unnecessary Expenses
There are a number of small ways that you can cut out those unnecessary expenses that will add up over time. For example, how much money have you spent on ATM withdrawal fees or transaction fees when sending or receiving funds electronically? There are a number of alternatives that don’t include these fees.
On a larger scale, you should also create a monthly budget, so that you can examine where your money is going each month. You may quickly realize that you actually don’t need that cable package that includes every channel. Instead, you can downgrade, or cut the cord entirely and use alternatives such as Hulu, Amazon, or Netflix. If a budget sounds too restrictive to you, try not having the money to budget! However, merely keeping track of all of your expenses will go a long way to helping you see what you are spending your assets on.
4. Rent or Sell Your Current Possessions
Do you have a closet full of unused junk or clothes that you no longer wear? Do you have a spare guestroom or extra office space? You can make money simply by selling your unwanted items online through Craigslist, eBay, and Amazon, or offline by having a yard sale, visiting a consignment shop, or hosting a closet party. You could rent bedrooms on Airbnb. You can even rent out everything from your office, parking space, car, or even tools when you’re not using them.
As opposed to collecting dust or taking up space, you can sell or rent the possessions you already have to make some quick cash.
5. Leave the Cash and Plastic at Home
If you leave the house without your credit card and a large amount of cash, you won’t be tempted to purchase items that you don’t really need. In fact, according to U.S. News & World Report, it’s been found that “86 percent of people who spend cash on luxuries like expensive cars, jewelry, and electronics are non-millionaires trying to act the part by purchasing luxury brands.”
Instead, follow the example set by T. Boone Pickens. Make a shopping list and only carry the cash you’ll need to make those specific purchases. This way, you aren’t putting yourself into additional debt. Remember, if you don’t have the cash to make a purchase or pay off your credit card, then you probably can’t afford the purchase in the first place.
6. Don’t Waste Money on “Get Rich Quick” Schemes
There is no such thing as getting rich quickly. This is something that the wealthy have realized. According to studies conducted by Thomas C. Corley, “16 percent of the wealthy gamble on sports at least once a week versus 52 percent of the poor.” Additionally, “9 percent of the wealthy play the lottery every week versus 77 percent of the poor.”
Don’t waste your money on trying to accumulate a large amount of wealth in a short amount of time, because the probability of that happening is slim to none. Instead, invest the money you would have spent into new business opportunities.
7. Go Green
Going green is excellent for the environment. But going green can actually save you some green as well. For example, you could reduce your heating and cooling bills by turning your heat down during the winter and the air temperature up during the summer by just 2 degrees. You could also invest in a gadget like the Nest to help monitor and manage your heating and cooling expenses.
You could also recycle cans and cardboard for a couple of extra dollars, replace energy-guzzling gadgets with newer Energy Star models to cut back on your electric bill, and consider carpooling or taking public transport instead of driving yourself to and from work.
8. Get a Side Gig
There are two financial incentives for getting a side gig. The first, and most obvious, reason is that this will bring in additional income that can be used to pay down your debt or placed into savings or investments.
The other reason is, if you’re busy with a side gig, then you’ll have less time to spend the money you’ve earned. For example, if you do web design, tech support, or became a bartender on the weekends, you’re less likely to go out to eat or shop all day. Here are a few tips to earn an extra $500 a month. Every little bit helps.
You can become a millionaire, now it’s time to figure it out and go do it. I have faith and believe in you. If you’re ever lost or need a little advice, I’m here to help!
The Lone Star Express will start operations on May 2nd using container vessels with a capacity of approximately 4,500 – 5,000 TEUs.
The 2M Alliance – composed of Maersk Line and Mediterranean Shipping Co. – recently announced the launch of a new service, the “Lone Star Express,” between Asia and the United States Gulf and East Coasts which includes a weekly rotation at Port or Miami.
The Lone Star Express will start operations on May 2nd using container vessels with a capacity of approximately 4,500 – 5,000 twenty-foot equivalent units (TEUs). The string includes the ports of Qingdao, Ningbo, Shanghai, Xiamen, Yantian, Busan, Cristobal, Houston, Mobile, Miami, Balboa, and Busan.
According to spokesmen, Miami has been steadily capturing new trade. It posted its strongest container traffic in a decade with a total of 1,007,800 TEUs during the 12 month period ending Sept. 30, 2015, an increase of 15 percent. Spokesmen add that Miami “was recently ranked among the fastest-growing seaports in the nation.”
In January alone cargo moves increased approximately 20 percent over January 2015.
Miami officials attribute this continued growth to the more than $1 billion of infrastructure investments made in port facilities. With the deepest shipping channel in the Southeast U.S. (-50/-52 ft), Miami is the only seaport south of Virginia capable of handling neo-Panamax vessels.
Miami also offers its users a fast access tunnel connecting the Port directly to the U.S. Interstate Highway System as well as the Florida East Coast Railway (FECR) on-dock intermodal rail service, provides rapid turnaround time for the movement of both import and export goods while delivering a seamless network reaching 70% of the U.S. market within four days.
Datamyne a leading provider of web-based international market intelligence, finds that U.S. import volumes, measured in TEUs gives Miami an 11th place ranking among U.S. ports – just behind Seattle, but ahead of Baltimore.
Gerry Wang, chief executive of the container carrier leasing giant, Seaspan Corp., agrees that Miami is poised to capture more market once larger vessels are introduced into the schedule.
“Currently, Miami, Norfolk and Baltimore are the only Atlantic U.S. ports that are capable of handling larger ships, while others like New York/New Jersey, Savannah, Charleston and Jacksonville still have harbor dredging work before mega-vessels are able to call there,” he says
By Patrick Burnson, Executive Editor