In Brief
  • Back in 1965, a comic strip entitled Our New Age predicted a future form of mass transit that looked and sounded very similar to today's Hyperloop.
  • The comic strip is another example of something that was once science fiction eventually becoming the latest cutting-edge technology.

An Accurate Prediction

Elon Musk’s Hyperloop is expected to be the next step forward in public transportation. The system propels passengers through a nearly airtight tube at speeds approaching that of air travel. Projects are currently in the works to bring the Hyperloop to Canada, Russia, Dubai, and now parts of Europe. The one in Dubai is expected to allow for travel between the city and the UAE capital of Abu Dhabi, a distance of over 125 km (nearly 78 miles), in just 12 minutes.

The Hyperloop holds a lot of promise for the future of transportation, but it turns out that the idea may not be as new as we think. Back in 1965, a comic strip illustrated a future train that looks eerily similar to the concept drawings of Musk’s system, proving, once again, that there are no new ideas under the sun.

Image source: Novak ArchiveImage Source: Novak Archive

Our New Age, Indeed

Athelstan Spilhaus started a comic strip called Our New Age as a response to the Russian launch of the Sputnik satellite into space. Spilhaus hoped to get children interested in the sciences while they were reading their Sunday comics. He described his motive as follows: “Rather than fight my own kids reading the funnies, which is a stupid thing to do, I decided to put something good into the comics, something that was more fun and that might give a little subliminal education.” He probably never intended on divining the future.

The strip’s description of the trains of the future contained some uncanny similarities to today’s Hyperloop, including calling it an “exotic wheel-less train” capable of “traveling at hundreds of miles an hour.” The design of the train even looks a lot like those of the Hyperloop.

We are constantly learning of new technology that has a basis in some form of science fiction. Increasingly, the pipe dreams of yesterday are becoming today’s possibilities. The beauty of science fiction is that it can serve as a beacon that those in the present can throw to illuminate a path to the future.