If you’ve ever used a public rail system to travel, you probably have felt the consequences of the dehumanizing routine. Scan your ticket, take the stairs down, all the noise, it’s too dark, everything is filthy, people who need a shower in close quarters – all of those things and more can make a convenient trip into a hassle. Well, they are trying a few things differently in Japan.
Have you ever heard of “Nudge Theory”? Allan Richarz writes to it a little in his citylab article above. Essentially it is the fine art of subtly controlling groups of people. There are discreet social cues all over the Japanese rail system that help make it more efficient and friendly. They are playing short seven second jingles when the train arrives and they have blue LED lights mounted into the ceilings, which actually help lift people’s moods.
But none of that is lifting folks to the stars. A few years ago, some scientist/engineers at NASA discovered that if you build a cone shape out of metal and jam a bunch of microwave generators into the base of the thing it moves without a comprehensible source of propulsion. Ever since then scientists have been trying to figure out why it moves. Unfortunately for Sci-Fi enthusiasts the world around, it turns out that this miracle propulsion device is probably just interacting with the Earth’s magnetic field.
Take a look at Nadia Drake’s excellent article discussing this idea.
So for right now, it looks like the Japanese rail system is going to take us farther than the EmDrive. Will that always be the case?