Ocean Subsurface Tubes

The Hyperloop is a great idea brought back to life by Elon Musk, but it didn’t take long before he realised that tunning these tubes above ground wasn’t feasible, due to the multitude of government jurisdictions, and that existing highway corridors couldn’t be followed at highspeed.

I anticipated this when it was first announced, and tried to contact the various companies trying to develop the engineering for the idea. But I never got a reply, so I’ll publish it here instead.

I watched What If We Built a Road Around the World? today. In it, he writes off Australia as having stretches of bridge too far. But I knew the solution, the same one for Hyperloop. This motivated me to write this today.

If tubes were submerged 50-100 meters below the ocean surface, ships would pass over without any trouble, and storm activity wouldn’t have an impact. They would be neutrally buoyant being made from heavy strong materials, tethered to the sea bed where possible, and may have propellers to counter-currents in-between.

I’m sure there would be more challenges such as ship anchors, but that comes down to engineering detail.

The tube would be built in segments in factories on land and pushed directly to sea. This would make the tubes cheaper to build than above water bridges and seabed tunnelling, plus they would be resellable to be redeployed somewhere else.

So these tubes could be cheaper than bridges for longer lengths (let’s assume > 5km), making it possible for road travel around the world.

But that’s not all. Being in the ocean means deployment in international waters which would eliminate a lot of red tape. The tubes could also support communications, electricity, and oil pipelines.

They could be air-evacuated for hyperloop type travel. And there are many interesting places they could be deployed. Such as on the west coast of the US for North-South travel, also to bypass the Darien Gap, to connect New Zealand to Australia, and Australia up to South-East Asia. With all the islands in the Pacific, there may be an economical route across the Pacific, but a full Atlantic crossing should also be feasible with the higher European-American demand.

I don’t have the money or time to build this, but I hope to travel from Sydney in San Francisco in a few hours one day.


Personal Drones – Flying “Cars” for All

Great ideas and progress rarely come from well-worn paths. How long have we waited for Flying Cars? Many have tried turning cars into sort of planes, or jet hovering machines.

Now it’s possible. Not by making cars fly, but making drones bigger to carry people.

Drones are main-stream and mature. The industry grappled with air-space and privacy rules and created auto-pilot, stability systems, and backup redundancy. Engineers have been reinvigorated to develop new algorithms and mechanical structures.

All of this is great for personal transport through the skies. With Flying Cars, we were expected to have a recreational pilot license, and although those engineers would have dreamed of auto-pilot, that was unobtainable. Drones have been a key stepping stone, and newfound success of electric vehicles also pave a new path.

I suspect there are 10-20 years to go. The most critical element remaining is battery capacity. There are workarounds and hybrids, but when batteries get a science boost you’ll see a race to market from many key companies.

So stop hoping for Flying Cars, and start saving for your Personal Drone Transport. (And hopefully they find a good name for it)


Geelong has a clean slate

I hope you’re done. Q&A was your last chance to detox from any doom and gloom you had left.

The loss of jobs, particularly at Ford, is not a pleasant experience for retrenched workers, but there’s no changing the past. The fact is Geelong now has a clean slate to dream big, and driverless electric vehicles is a perfect fit for the future of manufacturing.

On Q&A last night, Richard Marles was spot on, describing the automotive industry as one of our most advanced in supporting technical innovation in Australia. But ironically, the industry together has missed the boat and was always on a trajectory with disaster.

I have been watching the industry, since 2010. I have observed the emerging phenomenon of the electric vehicle and the needful but lack of interest by our local automotive industry.  I have realised any automation is to be embraced despite the unpleasant short-term job losses. And still we’re about to miss a huge opportunity.

The public forum is full of emotion, desperation, finger pointing, and frankly ignorance.

Geelong, we have a clean slate.

Kindly watch this video, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CqSDWoAhvLU, it’s all Geelong needs to drop the past and grasp the future, share it with your friends and call up all the politicians you know. It’s been there the whole time, and this vision for Geelong is all we need to forget our sorrows. You won’t understand unless you see the video. We need to act now.

I have covered Electric Vehicles comprehensively in the past, but they’re today’s reality. We need to aim higher. Do Geelong even know anything about driver-less cars?

People are immediately cautious of change, which is why the technology needs to be tested and tested here in Geelong. This will be a great focal point for our retraining efforts. Imagine cheap transport and independence for the elderly and disabled. Cheaper, safer and faster deliveries. Reduced traffic congestion and elimination of traffic lights – no stopping! Cars that drop you off and pick you up will park out of town – what car parking problem? What will we do with all those empty car park spaces in the city? More green plants and al fresco dining?

But most importantly zero road fatalities. If this is the only reason, it’s all we need.

They are legal in California today. What stepping stones will we take to legalise fully driverless cars in Victoria? These massive technology companies will only move next to hospitable markets. Who is talking to Nissan and Tesla about building the next generation of electric driverless vehicles in Geelong? We have been given a clean slate, there are too many exciting opportunities around to waste any more time on self-pity!

Oh and trust me when I say, that’s just the tip of the iceburg – I’m not telling you everything, find out for yourself. Click all the links found in this article for a start, it’s what they’re for.

Hint: There’s more to come from me, including the idea to start a “Manufacturing as a Service” company for Automotive, just like Foxconn does for electronics in China, inviting the Ford/Alcoa workers, their investment, GRIIF investment, outside investors and Tesla. There’s lots more work to do, but it’ll be worth it.

Some more videos you should really watch:

Atlas: A brilliant new composition by Daniel Johns

A couple of days ago, I saw a brief clip on the T.V of the new Qantas composition by Daniel Johns. It was an small glimpse, and I wasn’t immediately impressed.

Cover of "Freak Show"
Cover of Freak Show

Having grown up, listening to Silverchair songs from albums Freak Show and Neon Ballroom, I have never fully appreciated Daniel Johns Pop transition and experimentation. When Silverchair started producing their own albums themselves, their music drifted from its original grunge roots and was allowed much more exploration, particularly by the most influential member, Daniel Johns.

From Diorama, it was evident that Daniel Johns desired a more palatable Pop sound, highly produced but with the clear promise, that it was still Daniel Johns true voice with no artificial pitch changes. The transition has truly been painful as a customer, however I still thoroughly enjoy Johns’ newer stuff, even though I would normally avoid Pop where I can.

It was in the album Freak Show, that we first got our first introduction to Johns affection for strings. The scores highlight his music style, with modal and sometimes atonal chord changes which blended well with the chaotic grunge, now mellowing.

Daniel Johns
Cover of Daniel Johns

See: http://www.theage.com.au/travel/travel-news/daniel-johns-gets-on-board-as-qantas-replaces-iconic-i-still-call-australia-home-anthem-20120720-22dxx.html

After hearing the piece in its entirety, I found the gems of brilliance which are characteristic of Johns. Daniel speaks of wanting something that “sounded international” in sound, and I think he has nailed it.

Intro Phrase

The opening riff, which has the timbre of solitary warm guitar harmonics, give the feeling of time, which instantly associates Qantas with travel and by extension that international sound desired. The riffs have a faint chordal melody. When coupled with visuals of people looking to the sky, I imagine Qantas in the sky, not necessarily an aircraft. A piano is introduced, but is interestingly suppressed (most likely in post-production) playing chords {E, Am, C} on the first beat accented by a tuned drum.

Voice Chorus

After a couple of repeats, this phrase then cuts straight into the vocal chorus complete with harmonies and strings, crash of symbols and a couple of bangs on a deep suppressed drum, with all previous instrumentation abandoned. I found this transition to be quite abrupt, there may have been a softer way to transition, but it sounds right. Such changes are one of my favorite qualities of Silverchair songs, they can change quite abruptly through the song, (making them much more interesting than a simplistic bridge found in typical music of repetitive progression), but as long as they come back to the original theme, the song feels complete and resolved.

I’m glad Daniel used his voice, he has a wide vocal range, but uses falsetto, (and generous reverb) to give a spatial heavenly feel. The key is of the vocal chorus is complimentary to the opening chords played on the piano, and the melody loosely follows an arpeggio form, and descending patterns against contrary ascending patters from the violins. It sounds like some of the other voices are multi-tracking of Daniels voice, but other voices are dutifully added.

Tying back to Temporal

The piano and guitar are returned, with simple chords on the piano (which no longer sound suppressed – probably because the drum is no longer accenting the chords). The guitar is playing a rhythm of a single note per bar, the rhythm fits in with the initial opening riff, sounding temporal. At concerts Daniel often used many effects pedals, and I wouldn’t be surprised if he achieved this sound manually. Keyboard is then added in a high register further strengthening the international temporal effect. It’s now that the cut over to the chorus sounds tied.

ACO Virtual Orchestra
ACO Virtual Orchestra (Photo credit: .M.)

The Completion

This continues with some key lifts and drops, strong spirited builds, some additional instrumentation including brass. Very much rudimentary, but of course effective and required to finish off the song. The final phrase reverts to the original instrumentation of the introduction.


It was notable that the Australian Chamber Orchestra was used for strings, as Silverchair have used many international players and orchestras in the past. The ACO were obviously chosen for being Australian, and they were fantastic. I’ve heard them in the past, having purchased a year subscription to their concerts, and found that I prefer the ACO accompanying Daniel Johns music as opposed to unfamiliar (to me) classical works – although there is nothing like being there, no sound system can compare.


The absence of lyrics is strange. Perhaps he was directed not to add lyrics and suitable vocal melody. There is real potential in this piece to write a lyrical song, one which can actually stand well beside “I still call Australia home’. I might attempt to cover this song one day and add some lyrics to demonstrate the potential.


The quality of this work speaks of a hard working perfectionist. From instrumentation to melody, it seems that Daniel Johns works best when he is given some external direction, something to focus on. It must be difficult for Daniel to have this piece compared to “I still call Australia home’, a very patriotic and accessible song. In this regard, there is no comparison, it has history and culture and resounds with every Australian. This is a brilliant piece and will represent Australia well alongside the classic. I hope Johns continues to accept external influences, collaborating with a broader community of artists and clients, and I can’t wait to hear the outcomes of his many projects to come.

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Redundant Trucks – Vital Rail

It’s amazing. Just a few days ago I was driving home, thinking that they never have adverts for freight trains – I just saw one, QT transport or something. What a co-incidence! Or maybe Unilever just bought them out. Of course there is a reason I noticed the absence of the ads. As you can probably tell from the rest of my blog, my mind often drifts into various topics and transport is one of those that I have been contemplating. With the dangers of road trains, efficiencies of rail, increasing road congestion and talk surrounding the environment (let’s focus on the pollution for a change and not just carbon), it’s a wonder that there is no tactical push to consolidate to rail.

Of course we can’t have rail going down every street – that’s where trucks come in. However, Australia has an extensive rail network which is perfect for intercity and interstate transport (I acknowledge that sea freight is also more applicable for interstate as well for larger items). So why do we use trucks in such situations? Why are truck drivers sent on long continuous hours behind the wheel  away from their families, when there’s an alternative? These are all questions which I’m sure have a wide spectrum of answers, ranging from monopolies in the truck logistics medium and perceived convenience for customers to government regulation and leadership in these matters. Knowing the answers to these questions will help us fix the problem.

Lets consider one reason being the familiarity of the truck medium. You see trucks everywhere, you share the road with them, and understand how they operate – they’re like your car but bigger. They’re always clean, new looking full of colour and they advertise their company. On the other hand, you never really see trains, of course that’s because that’s because rail and roads are rarely laid side by side. The ones you do see are old and it’s difficult for the general public and smaller business to appreciate how they operate. People think of the constraints of a trains timetable, unfamiliarity and unacceptability with loading and of course they don’t come to your door (well the non-magic ones that is). So there is generally an inaccessibility of trains, especially to the SMEs, and this is something which could be addressed with integration of rail companies with truck companies – truck deliveries to train loading points.

I’ll conclude. Clearly there also need to be financial benefits for the customer. Surely rail is the more economical option, but with the more familiar truck industry taking away a bulk of business away, economies of scale cannot be successfully achieved. In this regard, it would require Government incentives and support to move a State/Nation toward rail and then reap the savings.