Register for an account

X

Enter your name and email address below.

Your email address is used to log in and will not be shared or sold. Read our privacy policy.

X

Website access code

Enter your access code into the form field below.

If you are a Zinio, Nook, Kindle, Apple, or Google Play subscriber, you can enter your website access code to gain subscriber access. Your website access code is located in the upper right corner of the Table of Contents page of your digital edition.

Mind

An Easier Way to Get Around

Cosmic VarianceBy Julianne DalcantonJanuary 10, 2009 1:24 AM

Newsletter

Sign up for our email newsletter for the latest science news

Samuel Arbesman (who may have a tad too much time on his hands) has developed a transit system for the Milky Way:

placeholder

It's a cute idea, but I have some issues. The biggest is differential rotation. In much of the Milky Way, the tangential velocity is constant (i.e. in km/s). However, this means that the inner parts of the galaxy are rotating faster (in degrees per second), such that the whole transit system will be winding up, making more and more unnecessary trips around the center in the inner regions -- this is the classic "winding problem" of spiral arm theory. If you fight this by making your transit lines fixed, then they'll go out of phase with the spiral arms, leaving a transit system that serves the thinly populated rural regions of the galaxy, with no regular service to the dense urban areas. Finally, there are useful, well-populated regions above and below the plane of the Milky Way disk, so there needs to be a three dimensional component to the transit systems, definitely requiring some sort of bus-rail-submarine link plan. But, we've got a infrastructure-based stimulus package coming up, so maybe we'll get lucky.

    2 Free Articles Left

    Want it all? Get unlimited access when you subscribe.

    Subscribe

    Already a subscriber? Register or Log In

    Want unlimited access?

    Subscribe today and save 70%

    Subscribe

    Already a subscriber? Register or Log In