Photo Credit: ET3
By Yonatan Gordon
If you have read our recent articles, you may have seen this coming. After all, not only is the proposed Hyperloop really cool and nifty (yes, we still like that word), but it was predated by science fiction. If you follow our articles and didn’t see it coming, don’t worry … we also didn’t know ahead of time.
So what is a Hyperloop? And why do you want to immediately ride in one for the fun of it?
While we probably won’t know the exact design specs until serial entrepreneur Elon Musk tells us August 12th, according to BusinessInsider.com’s article “Elon Musk’s Hyperloop Science Fiction,” science writers (both of the fiction and fact variety) have been writing about this thing for years.
First, if you want to know more about how vacuum-sealed high-speed transit systems work (try saying that 5 times fast), you can read: How Elon Musk Could Change The World With A High-Speed Transportation System Called The Hyperloop. But for the rest of our article, we’re going to assume that you already clicked on that link, or read articles elsewhere on the internet.
As stated in the science fiction article, the first science fiction writer to discuss the Hyperloop was none other than Michel Verne (son of Jules Verne) in the 1888 story, “An Express of the Future.”
To quote from the article:
The story imagines riding air-driven carriages in submarine tubes from Boston to Liverpool, England in 2 hours and 40 minutes and reaching speeds of 1,800 kilometers per hour.
“Coming at once to the question of working, he filled the tubes–transformed into a sort of pea-shooter of interminable length–with a series of carriages, to be carried with their travelers by powerful currents of air, in the same way that dispatches are conveyed pneumatically round Paris.”
Before writing this article, I started to think about the concept behind the Hyperloop, and what Jewish tradition had to say. Of particular interest would be to find a source that not only predates Verne’s fictional account from 1888, but also the scientific paper from 1812 that predated it (again, please see the BusinessInsider.com article).
What gave a clue was the use of the term “carriages” in Verne’s story. As it happened, this actually turned out to be only one of many correspondences between the Hyperloop, and an the Ba’al Shem Tov’s wagon.
While there are many miraculous stories told about the founder of the Chassidic movement, one of the most repeated wonders was his ability to skip long distances while riding inside his wagon. The term for this wondrous method of travel is “leaps of distance” (kefitzat haderech), and as you can imagine, is something that would come in very handy even today.
Being as the Baal Shem Tov was born around 1700, and passed away in 1760, the miraculous wagon stories occurred long before the science fact paper in 1812, and the fictionalized version in 1888.
Most amazing is that in the entire Talmud, there is only one place where it says that there is a commandment to study science. The section begins with the saying from Rav that “One who knows how to compute tekufot and mazalot and does not do so, you are not permitted to quote his teachings in his name….”
According to the Smag (an acronym for the Medieval index of commandments called: Large Book of Mitzvot), this is one of the 613 commandments. In his words: “It is a positive commandment to compute tekufot and mazalot and moladot….” These three words “tekufot, mazalot, moladot” refer to the various cycles of the stars and planets (today, we call this astrophysics).
Of particular interest for our discussion is that tekufot, which literally means “cycles,” are a time image, whereas mazalot (“star constellations” or “galaxies”) are a space image. So while tekufot literally means astronomical cycles, conceptually speaking, it relates in general to the passage of time. So if you are creating a giant loop or cycle, the most marketable aspect pertains to the passage of time.
But time alone is not enough, as alluded to in the marketing of the ET3 company, and their Evacuated Tube Transport (ETT) system. In their materials, they describe it as “space travel on Earth.” So while Musk’s Hyperloop will probably save you lots of time, the greatest accomplishment will come when both time and space are unified. But for this, you need to know how to make wormholes.
Tearing the Fabric of Space-Time
The section mentioned above, also appears at the end of the discussion in the Talmud regarding the tearing of the fabric of the tapestry of the Tabernacle. Since the Tabernacle is considered to be a miniature of the world, we can source numerous scientific principles from the inner workings of the Tabernacle.
The 24th out of 39 categories of work performed in the Tabernacle is tearing in order to re-sow. The Talmud asks: “Where do we find this category of work taking place in the Tabernacle?” The Talmud replies that this occurred when a wormhole appeared in one of the Tabernacle’s tapestries, and then the fabric had to be torn and re-sewn. When you see this passage in the Talmud in relation to any book on modern physics today, it totally blows you away.
Today, modern science describes space-time as a fabric which can theoretically be torn, as if a wormhole, and then re-sewn. And one of the main questions is whether indeed tears in the fabric of space are possible, and whether they could be used to create “wormholes;” theoretic passages through space that would shorten distances considerably.
By all indications*, the method that the Baal Shem Tov used seemed closer to the formation of a wormhole than a Hyperloop. So while there are similarities in the “leaps of distance” concept, the Hyperloop is still lacking the ever-important unification of time with space.
This has very practical implications as well. Whereas a Hyperloop needs permits from the local states and provinces that it runs through, a wormhole generator seemingly would bypass most or all of these issues.
The fact that both the Hyperloop and particle accelerators (such as the one at CERN) are both loops, also appears significant. It is known that King David described himself as a worm, “I am a worm, not a man.” It is also known that the Baal Shem Tov is considered to be a reincarnation of King David. It is not only fitting that the Baal Shem Tov himself should travel through wormholes, but that he should also convey to us the secret as well. Maybe if you view yourself like a worm, or as we say today an elementary particle, then you could make these leaps without the use of a Hyperloop?
For those schematics, we recommend strongly that the passage cited from the Talmud be studied in depth (Shabbat 74b-75a).
Freely Excerpted and Adapted From Pages 159-162 of Lectures on Torah and Modern Physics, a New Book by Harav Yitzchak Ginsburgh.
*See page 160 from Lectures on Torah and Modern Physics