The Need for Speed

UWE LEIN/AP

German Greens oppose the high-tech railway

The idea of using magnetic levitation to run a high-speed railroad has been around since 1934, when a German scientist named Hermann Kemper received a patent on the technology. Such trains would be extremely fast and float quietly over the tracks supported by magnetic attraction instead of steel wheels. Although a brilliant idea, the problem has been that it is simply too expensive to implement over a long distance. Now a project in China and advanced proposals for two more trains in Germany have moved maglev from science fiction to commercial reality.

The Chinese project should be up...

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