Scientists at China's Harbin Institute of Technology are "a step closer to creating a supersonic submarine that could travel from Shanghai to San Francisco in less than two hours," reports The South China Morning Post. The scientists have reportedly succeeded in replicating an air bubble that would allow vehicles and projectiles — such as a torpedo — to travel more quickly through water, which produces much more drag than air.
In theory, a supercavitating vessel could reach the speed of sound underwater, or about 5,800km/h, which would reduce the journey time for a transatlantic underwater cruise to less than an hour, and for a transpacific journey to about 100 minutes, according to a report by California Institute of Technology in 2001. [SCMP]
Of course, there are some significant obstacles to the dream of traveling frictionlessly across the Pacific. For one, such a vessel would need an immensely powerful rocket to reach supersonic speeds, which in turn would create problems with steering. However, this new technology could prove useful in other ways. "[T]here's plenty of reason to believe a submarine could be built that would significantly exceed the speed of today's fastest models, which lumber along at a speed of 40 knots (about 46 mph)," writes Terence McCoy at The Washington Post. Take a look at the design below. --Ryu Spaeth