Hyperloop, Elon Musk's ultra-rapid, hypothetical transit system, to be revealed today
The tech world is in a tizzy today because today is Hyperloop day. Happy Hyperloop day!
What is hyperloop? Well, we don't really know yet. But we know its tizzy-worthy.
Why is it tizzy-worthy? Because Hyperloop is an Elon Musk idea.
Who is Elon Musk? Maybe you already know this one. Elon Musk is the Tesla Motors (electric cars) guy, and the PayPal guy, and the SpaceX guy. He's a rich (very rich) and famous entrepreneur, basically. He has a bunch of smart ideas, or at least lots of people think so.
What is Hyperloop? Oh right, we still don't know.
We just know this: Hyperloop is a set of designs for a hypothetical transportation system that Musk says would be able to convey passengers from San Francisco to Los Angeles in around 30 minutes. (It takes more than 5 hours to drive the distance right now, and over an hour to fly.)
Musk has apparently been hinting at his plans for this system for months. And last week he promised to release his plans today.
So, happy Hyperloop day.
Some people have started guessing what Hyperloop will look like based on the aforementioned hints Musk has dropped, and in fact a guy named John Gardi mocked something up and tweeted it at Elon Musk and Elon Musk tweeted back that it was the closest guess he'd seen yet. Gardi's plans involved magnetic accelerators and something about shunting air columns.
"I believe that Hyperloop is merely a modern day version of the pneumatic tubes used in banks, stores, and industry to move money and small items over long distances or to other floors of a building," Gardi wrote over at Motherboard, where you can read about his very educated guesswork in detail.
In other words, Hyperloop appears to be a series of tubes.
Elon Musk's plans will be plans like drafts, not plans like commitments: Musk says he can't actually build Hyperloop himself, because he's too busy with electric cars and space. He just wants to release the design, and then welcome feedback on it. The designs are going to be open-source, of course.
So far nobody seems to know when the designs are coming, or where they will be posted. Building on his previous smart guesses, John Gardi thinks they will be released on Twitter.
We will let you know.
UPDATE 12:07 PM: Hyperloop has a twitter account and one single tweet: https://twitter.com/nwhyperloop
UPDATE 1:36 PM: Elon Musk says he will publish the Hyperloop plans at 4:30 p.m. EST:
Pulled all nighter working on Hyperloop (as did others). Hopefully not too many mistakes. Will publish link at 1:30 PDT.— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) August 12, 2013
UPDATE 4:43 PM: Musk has spoken to Bloomberg Businessweek about the Hyperloop design and will follow up with a press conference later today. Our new story is here.
Kate Allen is the Star's science and technology reporter. Find her on Twitter at @katecallen.