Japan is famous for its Shinkansen bullet trains, high-speed rail that can take anybody from one end of the country to the other with surprising speed. And the bullet trains are impressive technology, moving at 200 miles per hour through the country. But, like any other technology, they can be improved, and Japan is taking a bold step to make that happen.
Magnets: They Work
Specifically, Japan is testing out a new maglev train that has the ridiculous, jaw-dropping speed of 311 miles per hour. The bullet trains, despite being technical marvels, are still, essentially, the trains we know; they have tracks, they roll on those tracks, and they’re subject to all the quirks of physics and problems of getting around that you’d expect.
Maglev trains, however, are a whole new world. Short for “magnetic levitation,” they strip out variables like friction and equipment wear, meaning that they can get up to speed shockingly quickly and decelerate just as fast. That not only means they can get to places faster, they don’t have to spend a lot of time slowing down or speeding up, which in turn will shave valuable time off the trip.
It’s still in testing, of course, and it may not be open to the public for several years. But it’s an exciting technology, and one that could change how we get around… and how easy it is to get around.