SYSK Selects: How Maglev Trains Work


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Welcome to step you should now a production of iheartradio's how stuff works. Hey and welcome to the podcast. I'm Josh Clark in this Charles W chuck chuckers Bryant. Yeah Yeah and this is w sure. Yeah my bus ride into see see rider Elvis style. Dial how are they going with the muppet show time. We put on makeup. Yeah what was it. Tomase giant stomach shepherd like doc was that weird was crazy. I couldn't have been jerry stomach. There's no way all right. It's what's your intro stalling. Chuck yes You remember our magnet. podcast yeah I personally really thought it was a great episode because we explain how magnets work. Yeah it was good tough but good. Yeah it was tough but it was also kind of It was one of those ones where you're like. Oh okay that explains pretty much everything about magnets that I've used before in my life. I just kind of took for granted. Some people think that their magic but we kind of said this is how they work. I liked it so I liked this this Article article in theory. The one we're about to show. Yeah about maglev trains. Yeah we did a video on maglev. Trains Murmur that neither one of our one of our interstitial shorts was on maglev trains Yeah I remember doing the Quantum levitation was at it now. Maglev are you sure. Yeah because that's the only way I knew about any of this because the fact that we had talked about it before well. What did we talk about? You know the basic principle in one minute behind magnetic levitation. Well it's pretty much what we're going to do here. Yeah except slightly longer so That was my intro uninsured and we should say also Everyone it is next to impossible to get get up to the minute up to the year information about what maglev trains are in Operation Order still planned. What's still going on so it is possible? We may get that part a little incorrect. But we're going to try our best to be as accurate as possible yet. Ah The reason why is because magnetic levitation to power train so new while it's actually not that new. They've been doing it for a while. Well Yeah Start. It was proposed ever since Tesla's started what was going on in the late nineteenth century. But it's so new in this regard as far as super fast speed the trains powered by magnets transporting lots of people over distances. Maybe great distances. Yeah that is so new and there are so few the different technologies that it is hard to keep track on which one is in the forefront. Right which ones are being funded because the stuff is expensive it is. It's hard to get funding especially here in the states. And if you go on if you just type maglev into Google or your favorite search engine Or Duck Duck. Go if you're you know kind of watching WHO's watching you. was that a like a secret. It's like an anonymous search engine. Okay you will find. There's projects projects all over the United States and all of them are like were shovel ready. We're ready to go. Just give us some money. And they're not getting any money because the construction costs are so enormous because with maglev trains. You can't use existing railways yet. It's all new and As a saw one quote an again who knows how recent this is but fifty fifty million euros per mile I can believe is what the German consortium is is quoting. The thing is once you get it. Built maintenance is not bad not bad at all because there's not a lot of wear and tear on it as you'll see no friction baby And if you do look into maglev you'll see that it is very much. It's like the the transportation technology of the future that's going on today Especially after looking into Elon Musk's Tube hyperloop thing. I've heard of that so basically along. Musk who is like our good friend. Yeah Hebrew Rich Guy Right. He basically basically just jotted down this idea on a cocktail Napkin and all of a sudden. It's like the new thing. Yeah but It's a an enclosed tube system. That just you put in a little car. Whatever that he's twelve people or something comfortably and you suck all the air out of it? Yeah there's no resistance so you can go really fast. Basically I think it goes about seven hundred miles an hour little under the speed of sound so you can get from the West Coast to the east coast or vice versa. Very very fast. The thing is the construction costs for this are just preposterous. But if it can come along or come down a little more and it will give maglev. a run for its money but if it if maglev can start to really kinda get some traction and get some some lines going it will be the movement of the future for at least a decade or two. Yeah I saw where they're proposing both in the future. Maglev trains that operate inside vacuum tubes. Okay as fast as two thousand miles an hour as crazy right now. They're breaking records. Kurds like three hundred miles an hour. Plus what's the fastest right now So apparently this is kind of mind boggling. Because maglev as again I we realize everybody. We haven't explained what maglev is can here but Maglev the great advantage. It has is that it supposedly supposedly goes faster than the normal steel wheel train apparently TGV train. which is a steel wheel train In Europe they they beat a maglev land speed. Really that was held by the Japanese maglev of about three hundred fifty one miles an hour. I think it went like three sixty. I don't know if I'd feel safe. Yeah I can imagine I was. I was reading a quote from a maglev rider. And they were saying like you can tell you're going really fast. Yeah like on the The bullet train. You must give me so disappointing. 'cause she's taught me how to say it in Japanese so many times that I I don't WanNa butcher it but the bullet train it goes pretty fast like one hundred fifty miles an hour or something but it just looks like everything's a blur. Yeah you don't feel like you're going fast. Apparently in a maglev have it. Goes fast enough to where like you feel like holy cow. We're going three hundred fifty miles an hour well. Our very own parent company did a show world's fastest trains. Yeah and I watched the maglev segment and the dude was in the front room with the driver in there like. Oh we're going three hundred miles an hour now and it's hard to tell on the TV you you know. Exactly how fast going. Because I looked and I was like well. You know looks like about one hundred to me but Yeah I think being on the train and I think the key to not feeling to weird is obviously. You're not being shot like a bullet. You're you're ramping up to that speed so that helps plus if you dressed normally for your chain ride you'll feel less weird to that's right Also hold on one more thing The we're talking very high speeds three hundred and fifty miles an hour. Yeah that's the That's the speed record of a maglev. But they're averaging like two fifty or more. Yeah which means if you if you get these things built. You're going to expand the range of where people can live and commute and go to work every day or tremendously. Yeah So there is a lot of value in creating these maglev 's right. Are we there yet before we do that. Let's just might as well do a message break now. I think it's a good time. We want to tell you about the Subaru love. Promise that's right. 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Yes let's okay This is kind of confusing because I read a paper in one thousand nine hundred eighty one thousand nine hundred eighty where this guy was saying like. There's a lot of people calling all these different technologies maglev aglet. Yeah there's this is all very early. Stage proposal hasn't been proven yet. But he's saying there's at least seven different kinds of technology here that everyone's is calling maglev that he doesn't they're just different but for the purposes of this podcast. We can get with maglev but we have to point out that there are some really different systems that are in use in being proposed right now and a lot of them have to do with the suspension systems. Yeah I I think what's going on now. There are three pretty much leading competing. Systems right yeah because we should say chuck a maglev train. Gene is a train that uses magnets to float above a track by either centimeter too. I saw one that floats up to a foot off the the track. That's a little scary. It seems a little scary but apparently the higher you go in that that high end of the range the more stable it is all right. Yeah but so the the train is literally not touching the tracks and it floats along in the reason why I can go so fast because there's no friction. No friction the only resistances since his air right and they're super sleek of course yep so even the errors cut down So let's go. Let's go to Germany because they have a system Transrapid it's called. The actually company is called Transrapid International. There's also a transrapid. USA now. I think USA. That's right And the German version is electro magnetic suspension and the way that the guy on the discovery channel show described. It was that electromagnet well when you use electro magnets they're only Magnetized when there's a power source right we love when there's electric city running through exactly so that's important to remember it is and we'll point out. Why later because in the German system The EMS system. It's all about attraction. Shen is not repel magnets repelling each other. It's magnets that are attracted to each other. And the reason that they float is they're basically switching it on and off pulsing the electro magnetic magnet so fast that it creates that hovering attraction. Okay so that's the German version version so okay and apparently this German version. I think they do use repulsive magnets but on the sides for the guidance magnets. Yeah so so to make it hover. They're turning it on an awful lot so it wants to stick but no but stick but no. Yeah there's not a dude on a switch doing it really fast. So it's all programmed onto bit right. They have computers handling And then so this is this this suspension system you're talking about right. The electro magnetic suspension yeah the EMS. words`suspension is Kinda easily overlooked. But in this case we're literally talking about how the train is suspended in mid air above the track in this case case and with the EMS. It's about I think a half a centimeter to a centimeter. It's very close to the to the track. And they used used the electromagnet to attract And they use the guidance magnets which are magnets installed on the side of the train That are along the side of the track to repel magnets along the side of the track to keep the the train from bumping into the guide rails but the requires hires a A computer system that constantly make adjustments to current that's going through these electro magnets to either To either attract the train right to make it flow or to repel it from the sides to adjust it to make sure it never bumps into the rails or the track because if you're going three hundred and fifty miles an hour train s- cuffs the track. You're in big trouble for big trouble. one advantage of this The German system is is that you only need the power on for the section of track that you're using at the time so they literally Will turn on a section of track. The train goes over it and then we'll turn it back off right so very like economically fuel efficient because it's not fuel right our efficient right and it doesn't use fossil fuels in the sense that a normal train does although if you go far enough down the line that electricity has to come from somewhere so ultimately it is coming from bills Kosei but the the efficiency fuel efficiency is incredible compared to a normal train that Burns causal fuels just to move right the guy shoveling coal into a fire. Yeah I should say so. My understanding of the the delivery of electricity. The city to the track is the same for both suspension systems that you propel like that so the whole track is made of electro magnets. Right come on both systems. And you're descending electricity to the electromagnet that are immediately in front of an immediately behind the train. Yeah Angie neatly under. Yeah 'cause you need you need to float the train then you need to propel it right in the way you're propelling. It is the magnets that are just ahead of the train are going to be positive. Yes and so that's going to attract the train meaning it's GonNa pull it forward yet. And then the the magnets behind it are going to be charged that they're negative and they're going to repel the train push so in the front. The magnets are pulling it in the back. The magnets are pushing it and again remember. There's no friction here. It's just air so it doesn't take a whole lot to make this train. Go really really fast just using magnets and they In two thousand and two debuted commercially in Shanghai China a Pretty short run transporting people From airport to airport basically At a speeds it speeds over two hundred and fifty miles an hour so I read the journey. The Nineteen Mile Journey now takes about seven and a half minutes. Yeah as opposed to about an hour and a cab ebb. Yeah and they were going to expand it but That was halted in two thousand eight over radiation fears by people and now it's being proposed as an underground system like to go underground to halt those fears but in two thousand. Ten another high-speed be trained in the area was a non maglev system opened so they basically said well. We probably won't do this We probably won't extend the Shanghai Line now so yeah I heard it's definitely only on hold but I didn't hear that. They decided they weren't going to do it. Well the regular bullet train popped up. And they're like oh well now that we have that we don't need the maglev well. Oh well so Japan scout the other big rival system So the propulsion systems are the same. You use magnets ahead of the train and behind the train to attract or repel it right to push it forward. I believe so sir The suspension systems are what differ in in Germany. You're using magnets to repel it right to attract to attract it in Japan using something called the Meisner effect so basically chuck the Meissner effect is where you take a super cooled superconductor right. Yes I think like liquid helium temperature which is very very very cold and you put it in a magnetic field the magnetic field basically hugs it. It goes around it rather than through it. Okay yes So when you do that the field actually levitated the thing so if you take enough superconductors offers that are at the right temperature and you put them in the presence of magnetic field whole bunch of magnets say on train the the magneto float it will levitated dry. And that's the electrodynamics suspension that. The Japanese are using. So basically you have a tunnel magnetic field tunnel. Yeah that these things are traveling through. Which means that they're they they don't need any extra magnets on the sides or they don't need any on the bottom or extra magnets on the bottom? It's just going to stay put within this bent magnetic field. It's warped to wrap around it. That's right it's never going to drop and it's totally stable. which is the big? That's a big Advantage from what I understand that the Japanese system over the German system. The stability doesn't require a bunch of computers to constantly adjust it and it is just inherently more stable. Because it's not just being held up from the the bottom and then a little on the sides it is wrapped in this basically blanket of an electro magnetic field right It can conduct power power Electricity even when the power is cut off. So that's a definite advantage Although the German system does have like battery backups. It's not like if the power went off the train would just go and stop right but the the German one doesn't doesn't need tires in the Japanese one does yeah because it needs to ramp up to a certain speed in order to you begin the float. It doesn't just start immediately. What is it like eighty eight miles per hour? That's back to the future. Sixty two miles an hour and I think they use liquid nitrogen nitrogen and it's just expensive to super cool these Coils and I think. That's one of the drawbacks. But they're all expensive. They are very expand. None of this. They haven't figured out a cheap way to do any of this. Now there's a proposed line In Japan it's already. It's the one that set the The land speed record for maglev trains. Right it's the JR Tokyo's That's the railway company the J. R. R. Tolkien. It kinda close but it's their line It's supposedly is already in operation. I read somewhere that it's moved like a million people already. But they have a proposed posed line that they wanNA open by twenty twenty seven and it's from Tokyo Nagoya and then they want to extend that from Tokyo to Asaka by twenty forty five and they're talking like it's like a fifty billion dollar project and I think that's just the first line. Yeah that's sounds about right but the reason that it probably will happen is they're they're Basing all this on data showing that people are going to keep moving to Japan in Osaka. So they're gonNA we have customers and they're not relying on any government money they have so much money they're just going to fund it themselves is is privately funded yet another con though the Japanese version. Is that if you have a pacemaker. You don't WanNa get on that train. Yeah because that magnetic field will Wreak havoc in. You probably won't live. It will shut you down. It will shut you down And then there's the induct track and that is another type of EDS system. Which is the Japanese system Except that they use room temperature magnets and from what I can tell. This is as close to just the the whole thing of two magnets regular magnets opposing each other. And they're just gonNA use that right. Yeah like it's as close to we get as you going out to the store and getting two magnets in putting their like polls against each other so that they repel. Yeah there's actually something called Hall Baca Ray which is a way to just lineup. The magnets in certain directions so that their polls are facing north South East or West And when you put them together in a clump basically the the magnetic field below the magnets doubles the magnetic field on the top magnet. Cancels one another out right so so you have your extra strong may magnetic field that can produce this meisner effect basically Without the supercooled superconductor. Yeah and these aren't even electro-magnetic. So I don't think they just magnets permanent room temperature magnets crazy yeah There are three Designs right now. The induct track track one two and three One is high speed too. Slow speed in three is heavy. Load slow speed so I guess just frightening stuff back and forth. I guess so. They did this in London at one point but then shut it down like in the eighties. They had a maglev train. Yeah just very slow moving like it. It might have been an airport type situation and I looked up the one here in Atlanta the new Airport train of thought it might have been mag left but of course it's not it's we'll stupid wheels Although they stay well they have proposed. Went Atlanta's one of the city's That's trying to get maglev going between Atlanta Lanta Chattanooga and there's one proposed between DC and Baltimore. Lay in Las Vegas. Yeah L. A. IN VEGAS And I think one from Pittsburgh to someplace but I'm not sure exactly where I saw that one too I don't remember it might have been DC. They said he's Berg Philly. Yeah we'll hold on. We're getting ahead of ourselves man. We'll know these are just proposals. And they're having a hard time getting the funding they need for any of these to really take off right because it's expensive expensive. It is chuck. How about how about a message break? Hey let's do it okay. Hello stuff you listeners. 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So Oh hard for get lifelock for up to twenty five percent off your first year go to lifelock dot com slash stuff that's lifelock dot com slash stuff for up to twenty five percent percent off all right so This whole idea of going three hundred and fifty miles an hour through space even without friction is Awesome it is awesome it can also be deadly. They've they've already been maglev accidents. Yeah the one in Germany was a little distressing because in two thousand six. It crashed crashed into a repair car that was accidentally left on the track. Like in. This is a test to see like everything should have been. Yeah Yeah Yeah like. Why did you leave a car on the track period so they actually people died in that one? The train was going. At least one hundred. And twenty miles an hour when it obstruct car so it must have just been getting up to speed. I Guess Yeah but yeah twenty. Nine people died on that one. There's another one in Shanghai on that line. That is the operation. Yeah that was just a fire though. Yeah and I don't want to make light of that but it wasn't like a crash or an instant like that. Yeah I'm just glad no no one got hurt exactly and this is breaking news through. This was in the paper today as we record it in real time okay. The Washington Post said that Northeast Northeast. Maglev everyone's getting on the maglev game. because I mean it really is a great idea. Yeah it's just really really expensive but if you can get up and running it's awesome. I mean I imagine in literally in one hundred years. They'll be a lot of this as major transportation. Sure you know but not want but as of today November fourth northeast. Maglev is has raised fifty million dollars in private funds. They can build five inches ATTRAC- yeah exactly and they are trying to get the Washington Baltimore leg going with private funding. Because the government's not putting any any money for this week. We'll see it in our lifetime. They think ten billion between DC and Baltimore. Yeah Although they're not they don't have a firm cost yet but I wonder wonder how long it would take his. I mean that's not even that long of a drive anyway. Yeah agreed maybe ten minutes which I mean if you live in Baltimore and work in DC. I'm sure that would be extremely attractive. Yeah that's true I don't know about the Atlanta to Chattanooga thing who cares yeah right you know people in Chattanooga Obi psyched I guess is they could get to the airport like thirty minutes. Yeah I guess not dissing Chattanooga Gathering Pan for gold. I saw this This AH discovery show video from a discovery show to And it had our good friend. Michio Kaku. Oh yeah and he was talking about a train train bullet train that could get you from one side of the world to the other in an hour. Wow and the way that it would do that is to go through the middle of the earth. Basically you would have to create this to basically like Alon Musk's idea you create a tube you evacuate all of the air out of it so that there's no resistance whatsoever and you just drop in the force of gravity takes you up to about eighteen thousand miles an hour. Yeah and then once you make it to the center and out the other side you gravity starts to work against you so it slows you down so Within an hour you should be able to make it from one side of the earth to the other but as Dr Kaku put put it. It's going to be very difficult. Getting through the center of the yeah that's the hell of all these theoretical ideas come up with it like it's not even even remotely possible and he'd probably say like this is is talking about what they asked me to talk about like. Doesn't McDonald's one day when I said that I was waiting in line at McDonald's yeah so what else you got. I got nothing announced. Don't maglev wave of the future. We've got we have a standing bet now. We will see a maglev train in operation that we can ride on while we're both alive. That's my bet. You say now that we will like I mean if we went to Shanghai who could do it right now so I feel like I just want my bent out that you're GONNA pay. I got here in the United States. Okay Within our lifetime. which for me is going to be about twenty five years or both still healthy enough to to ride it okay? I'll I'll take that bet okay. let's see if you guys want to learn more about maglev. You can type that word in the search BAR HOUSE DOT com and since I said Search part it's time for a listener. Mail try this is I'm going to call this opportunity for students filmmaking students to get your film on Hey guys who worked for nonprofit antiquity. Now which is dedicated to raising awareness of the importance of preserving our culture cultural heritage by demonstrating how antiquities legacy influences and shapes our lives. Today they have good stuff. We follow them on twitter. Nice we do. 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