AP/Paul Sakuma In this June 22, 2012 file photo, Tesla CEO Elon Musk waves during a rally at the Tesla factory in Fremont, Calif.

How cool is this:

A transport system that gets people from San Francisco to Los Angeles in half an hour using currently available technology?

It’s called Hyperloop, the latest crazy plan from Elon Musk, the visionary who has so far given the world PayPal, the Tesla electric car and SpaceX, the world’s only private space program.

Hyperloop is a solar-powered, lightweight, pneumatic system that proposes to move people and cars from one destination to another at 1,000 kilometres an hour. The tubes would follow California’s I-5 and, unlike the rapid rail system now in the planning process, farmers would still be able to plant their crops under the columns.

Any way you look at it — cost, speed, efficiency, access, land use — Musk’s estimated $10-billion bright idea compares favourably to the now-planned $70-billion-to-$100-billion train that would poke along at about 320 kilometres an hour.

So why is everyone dumping all over it? Typical of the expert opinion on Hyperloop is Richard White, a professor of American history at Stanford and author of Railroaded: The Transcontinentals and the Making of Modern America.

“It doesn’t seem plausible to me,” he told The New York Times. “I’m suspicious about everything, especially cost.”

I’m not sure what Richard White thought when Musk announced SpaceX in 2002, but I don’t think there was anyone who really believed it would be the first privately held company to take cargo to the International Space Station a mere 10 years later.

Elon Musk has visionary cred. While the tenured professors of negativity mutter in their beards, Elon Musk is busy designing the future. Along with a few others such as the recently departed Steve Jobs, Google’s Sergey Brin and tech-genius emeritus Bill Gates.

Not everything these guys dream up works. Landfills are littered with Newton PDAs and Vista software bundles and Google seems to shut down as many services as it launches, but look at what they’ve brought to the table.

Modern wonders of the world:

  • A place where you can go and ask any question about anything and get a million answers.
  • Programs that allow you to write, calculate, communicate, design, create and connect, all from your lap.
  • Small devices that fit into your pocket that allow you to store, organize and access as many beautiful words, pictures and melodies as you can stand.
  • Not to mention a rocket-ship company that has single-handedly saved the International Space Station, our seed pod to the stars.
  • Sadly, for every Elon Musk, there are 100 Richard Whites. Eminent, expert and enervating. People who can tell you how it won’t work. Prophets of failure.
  • We need more Elon Musks, people who look at grinding challenges such as gridlock and climate change and see opportunity. More than that: They see excitement. Their eyes sparkle.
  • It’s like corny old Buzz Lightyear likes to say: To infinity and beyond!

Why would we want to go anywhere else?

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