In­side a coral polyp

Asian Geographic - - Front Page -

Hard coral polyps are usu­ally a few mil­lime­tres in di­am­e­ter and have six smooth, sting­ing ten­ta­cles used to cap­ture food – al­though their stings gen­er­ally do not af­fect hu­mans. These ten­ta­cles can be with­drawn if the polyp is threat­ened

In 2016, China’s Fux­ing bul­let trains over­took Ja­pan’s Sc­ma­glev and France’s TGV to clinch the ti­tle of fastest op­er­at­ing rail­way in the world. This new gen­er­a­tion of Chi­nese trains, built in just 13 years, runs on hy­brid­propul­sion sys­tems which op­er­ate at 350km/h.

While the Sc­ma­glev can go up to 603km/h and the TGV can go up to 575km/h, both trains are lim­ited to 320km/h for nor­mal op­er­a­tion, mak­ing them slower than Fux­ing. China has al­ready ex­ported their tech­nol­ogy to over 100 coun­tries, in­clud­ing Rus­sia.

In the fu­ture, the coun­try is look­ing to su­per­charge its trains us­ing mag­netic lev­i­ta­tion (ma­glev) tech­nol­ogy un­der­wa­ter. By re­duc­ing fric­tion us­ing ma­glev trains in float­ing vac­uum tun­nels, Chi­nese re­searchers hope to achieve speeds of 2,000km/h.

This re­search puts China in di­rect com­pe­ti­tion with Amer­ica’s Hyper­loop One, which aims to reach speeds of 1,000km/h. The Amer­i­can train is de­vel­oped by Tesla and the Vir­gin Group, and is cur­rently be­ing tested on a full-scale test track in Ne­vada.

The two coun­tries’ vac­uum-based tech­nolo­gies – shoot­ing a pod of pas­sen­gers at high speed through a sealed tube – are very sim­i­lar, and ex­perts say both tech­nolo­gies could have po­ten­tial mil­i­tary use.

Ac­cord­ing to Chi­nese re­searchers, an ex­per­i­men­tal track for their vac­uum tube train is al­ready planned for con­struc­tion. The coun­try has built over 500 un­der­wa­ter tun­nels in the past 20 years, and last year com­pleted the fea­si­bil­ity sur­vey for its long­est tun­nel yet – a 10-kilo­me­tre stretch in Zhe­jiang. ag

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