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"Science fiction operates a little bit like science itself, in principle. You've got thousands of people exploring ideas, putting forth their own hypotheses. Most of them are dead wrong; a few stand the test of time; everything looks kind of quaint in hind"
- Peter Watts

Ring Road  
  A magnetically levitated train.  

The basic idea for a magnetically-levitated train was developed years earlier - so, this is not a Heinlein idea.

Max kept his eyes to the northwest. He favored this spot because from it he could see the steel stilts and guide rings of the Chicago, Springfield, & Earthport Ring Road emerge from a slash in the ridge to his right. There was a guide ring at the mouth of the cut, a great steel hoop twenty feet high. A pair of stilt-like tripods supported another ring a hundred feet out from the cut. A third and last ring, its stilts more than a hundred feet high to keep it level with the others, lay west of him where the ground dropped still more sharply into the valley below. Half way up it he could see the power-link antenna pointing across the gap. On his left the guides of the C.S.&E. picked up again on the far side of the gap. The entering ring was larger to allow for maximum windage deviation; on its stilts was the receptor antenna for the power link. That ridge was steeper; there was only one more ring before the road disappeared into a tunnel. He had read that, on the Moon, entrance rings were no larger than pass-along rings, since there was never any wind to cause variation in ballistic. When he was a child this entrance ring had been slightly smaller and, during an unprecedented windstorm, a train had struck the ring and produced an unbelievable wreck, with more than four hundred people killed. He had not seen it and his father had not allowed him to poke around afterwards because of the carnage, but the scar of it could still be seen on the lefthand ridge, a darker green than the rest.
From Starman Jones, by Robert Heinlein.
Published by Scribners in 1953
Additional resources -

You can see that this idea was set forth in a remarkably similar form decades earlier in Modern Mechanics and Inventions from 1931.


(Magnets Drive High Speed Suspension Trains Thru Air)

Thanks to Winchell Chung for this item.

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Additional resources:
  More Ideas and Technology from Starman Jones
  More Ideas and Technology by Robert Heinlein
  Tech news articles related to Starman Jones
  Tech news articles related to works by Robert Heinlein

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