One of the original sketches of the idea

The power of thinking like a child

How I designed a maglev train/Hyperloop hybrid when I was 12 years old

When I was a little kid, I used to be quite a scientist. I worked on ideas ranging from firefighting drones, smart car user interfaces to sci-fi dreams of teleportation and hoverboard. Without access to the internet, my research relied on the encyclopedias we had at home and the scientific publications I read.

Back in 1998, at the time I was 12 years old, I had an idea that excited me. This falls around the time I first learned about magnets and the basic principle of attraction and repulsion forces, most likely from one of those publications. I don't remember what exactly inspired me but, I thought this concept would enable us to make trains that can operate entirely by utilizing magnets.

The idea

All about attractive and repulsive forces. The upper arrow indicates pull, the lower arrow indicates push.

In this concept, in order to provide balance, a train car is placed inside a tube that is covered with magnets in a certain order that would levitate the train and push it forward thanks to attraction and repulsion forces. While one “magnetic ring” pushes the train car forward, the other ring pulls it towards itself. In this way, a train can move with a little amount of electricity.

Although I was not educated enough to take into account the notions of reducing friction and resistance, the design provided a response to that, at least partially. If I knew and thought about removing the air within the tubes and creating a vacuum, I would have as well come up with(!) the Hyperloop long before Elon Musk 😊

The magic of thinking like a child

The idea of magnetic levitation (maglev) had been around for decades but I was not aware of that; obviously I invented what had already been invented. What fascinates me is that, by using a simple magnetism rule, I was able to form a green, future-proof transportation solution. For this example of creativity, I give the credit to my untamed, “child” brain.

Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist after he grows up.” — Pablo Picasso

Thinking like a child often hailed as a creative way of approaching problems for adults. Unbound by the skepticism, self and external judgment that adultery brings to our lives, perhaps we can be more creative and more productive. Sometimes, the solutions to problems and challenges we face might be much simpler or much more obvious than we imagine, and we should be more open-minded and less judgmental towards our ideas. We should be able to suspend the adult mind and try to think like a child; straightforward, positive, bold.

My knowledge of physics is limited to what I learned in secondary education decades ago, so my assumptions and claims might be far from the truth; please correct me if they are.



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Can Aslan

Can Aslan

Product/UX Designer. IT Product Design MSc. Currently designing products @ Cambridge University Press & Assessment