From satire to proposal in 120 years

Ptak Science Books found an apparently serious engineering proposal that echoes a satire done more than 100 years earlier:

John B. Prather launched an idea in 1945 for building a high-speed pneumatic passenger/freight train connecting New York City to Philadelphia. [It’s described in his] New York-Philadelphia Vacuum Tunnel, Preliminary Design Features and Economic Analysis…

One of Prather’s diagrams is reproduced below. The proposal is not entirely different from the deadpan, intentionally insane proposal, made about 1825, to build a vacuum tube tunnel connecting London and Edinburgh, which we described recently.


BONUS: An earlier proposal would have built a system that zipped people between New York and San Francisco. Details are in the article “Five Hundred Miles an Hour“, by Boris Weinberg, Popular Science Monthly, vol. 90, 1917, pp. 705-708.