The Null Device
The world appears to be experiencing a subway building boom, with cities across the world building new underground urban railways, to alleviate traffic congestion or merely as a status symbol. Cities across the Middle East such as Dubai are investing in subways (in Dubai's case with both gender-segregated carriages and VIP carriages), provincial cities across Europe are putting them in, and even seemingly unlikely places such as Santo Domingo (of the Dominican Republic) and Mallorca (in the Balearic Islands) are putting them in. And, of course, China and India are going wild on subway building. Though, apparently, the United States is over subways:
Sure, Los Angeles and New York are adding modest extensions to their systems. And Phoenix is considering a subway. But Chicago's system is nearing collapse--still with no long-term consensus about how to save it. Cincinnati is fighting over what to do with deteriorating tunnels built in the 1920s, but abandoned for expressways. And subways aren't even a controversy in most American cities because they're a political nonstarter. Bonds, which need to float costs approaching $1 billion a mile, are simply off the table. And federal funds have slowed to a trickle. Besides, libertarians believe subways distort a city's natrual growth and gentrification. You need only look at what cars and expressways do to a city's "natural" growth and gentrification to give subways a second look. Yes, they're expensive. And they're usually worth it.Australia seems to be mostly following the US model, though there was talk about new undergound heavy-rail lines under Melbourne (connected to the normal broad-gauge rail network), though there's always pie-in-the-sky crazy talk about spectacularly expanding public transport, and little if anything ever comes of it. On the other hand, public transport doesn't have quite the stigma in Australia that it has in the US.
(via Wired News)
Irony of the day: James Watson, the disgraced Nobel laureate who recently claimed that people of African descent are less intelligent than those of European descent, is found to have genes indicating recent African ancestry. More specifically, 16% of Watson's genome is likely to have come from a black ancestor of African descent, whereas with the average European, that figure is 1%:
"This level is what you would expect in someone who had a great-grandparent who was African," said Kari Stefansson of deCODE Genetics, whose company carried out the analysis. "It was very surprising to get this result for Jim."