Virgin Hyperloop, the transport company owned by businessman Richard Branson, has ambitious plans to build a vacuum tube transport system that travels over 965 kilometers per hour. What would be the impact of high-speed travel on a human brain?
Sounds like a science fiction script. But it will be a science-based reality as engineers develop and modify the transportation system that will change modern transportation as we know it.
But before doing so, Virgin Hyperloop made a reasonable decision to find out if this passenger transport system would be safe and how it could affect their brains.
Thus, scientists at the Rockefeller Neurosciences Institute (RNI) in West Virginia will find out what to expect when carrying passengers at 78% of the speed of sound.
Would the human body be able to withstand a speed of almost a thousand kilometers per hour?
Previous Virgin Hyperloop tests reached speeds of about 387 kilometers per hour, but the ultimate goal was always to reach 965 kilometers per hour with the accelerated passenger cabins inside a vacuum tube.
“These are high-speed trains,” Dr. Ali Rezai, vice president of neurology at RNI, said in a statement. Press release. “Without windows and a frame of reference, sensors, motor and balance, as well as other functions of the human nervous system can also be affected,” Rezai added.
They will use portable technologies to quantify people’s physiology. From eye tracking systems to body sensors to electrocardiograms and electroencephalograms, they will measure, quantify and make sense of what is happening to a person’s body at a speed of almost a thousand kilometers per hour.
RNI will also apply neuroergonomics – the study of the human brain in relation to behavioral performance in natural environments and settings – and cognitive engineering in the design and flow for the control center.
To date, the research project is still being set up, so no results are yet to be distributed.