The latest in a series of stories called "The Great Energy Challenge," Wendy Koch reports on the state of the future (and surprisingly advanced present) of the Hyperloop. For anyone not familiar yet with the old-school, pneumatic tube-esque idea for moving people and things around, PayPal founder and SpaceX visionary Elon Musk thought of the idea because of the horrendous nature of Los Angeles traffic. Basically, reports, Koch, Musk was an hour late for a speech because he was stuck in traffic. At that speech, when he finally made it there, he threw out the idea of using air and magnets to push people and cargo around faster and more efficiently than even high-speed rail ... for much cheaper. Not happy with a rough idea, he went home and wrote a 58-page white paper explaining how it would work. SpaceX published it, it went viral, and now you're caught up.
Musk isn't actually building one, but other companies have been formed to do so, and SpaceX is sponsoring competitions for students to submit designs and engineering schematics for a chance to win and see their designs in reality. A team from MIT won the first round of the Hyperloop Pod Competition. This summer, they compete in the finale.
Read Wendy Koch's full story at National Geographic.