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MercuryNews.com : Wolverton: Elon Musk’s Hyperloop hype ignores practical problems

You’ve got to hand it to Elon Musk — he certainly dreams big.

The entrepreneur loves to take on tough technical challenges and turn them into business opportunities. He revolutionized online payment services with PayPal, built the first successful electric-car company withTesla Motors (TSLA) and launched one of the first commercial space transportation companies with SpaceX.

But his proposed Hyperloop transportation system — which he unveiled Monday as a faster and lower-cost alternative to a high-speed train service between San Francisco and Los Angeles — may prove to be his toughest challenge yet. While the science behind the idea seems sound, turning it into reality would require overcoming a host of engineering design obstacles, not to mention political and funding hurdles.

“The high-level concept doesn’t violate any fundamental laws of physics,” John Hansman, a professor of aeronautics and astronautics at MIT, said Tuesday in an interview. But he added, “I’m not sure whether the details work.”

More http://m.mercurynews.com/sjm/db_101042/contentdetail.htm?contentguid=Ro6FWJb1

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