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Public Radio's Environmental News Magazine (follow us on Google News)

Technology Update

Air Date: Week of


GRABER: If Japanese researchers get their way, trains someday will fly. By taking advantage of the effects of wind that both lift a moving object and drag it backwards, like what happens to your hand when you stick it out the car window, researchers are developing the Aerotrain. It looks like an airplane with a wings at both ends of its twenty-five-foot frame. And by shaping the wings just so, scientists can use the wind like a cushion to support the train just a few inches off the ground as it speeds through a special concrete corridor. Stabilizing fins keep it from bouncing off the walls. Prototypes of these floating trains now reach speeds of up to 180 miles per hour. And using solar energy and wind turbines, researchers hope to almost double that speed by the time the Aerotrain is ready for mass production. And that's this week's technology update. I'm Cynthia Graber.



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