America is in need of two things very fast and very different. One large, and one small — sort of. One that goes a couple hundred miles an hour, and one that goes almost the speed of light. One that travels in complicated paths, and one that goes in a giant circle. One that is familiar, and one that is not so much. One that is reliable and efficient, and one that crashes constantly.
At this point, you are probably wondering what in the world am I talking about. High-speed trains and particle accelerators, that’s it.
It’s time for America to enter the 21st century. We need some things that bring us up to speed, literally. America built the 20th century. And we are slacking off this century.
In the mid-20th century, we built the United States Highway System which revolutionized the efficiency of vehicular travel. No one alive today can deny the wisdom in that decision. It’s time for a new infrastructure project: High-speed rail. Our European counterparts are well ahead of us in this department. We can get there, too.
Let’s imagine something for a second. I love road trips, but they can be long, monotonous, and boring. As big as America is, car trips last multiple hours on end with multiple bathroom breaks or hotels to reach a destination. There is an alternative though: flying. However, flights are very expensive and take significant time out of your day. You have to arrive early to check in and drop off your bags. Sometimes the layover is longer than the actual flight. And we haven’t even mentioned the security checkpoints or the non-existent leg room. Now let’s imagine one other thing: high-speed rail.
We have train tracks all over this country. Why shouldn’t we have it for passenger travel? Trains built this country. Trains can re-build this country.
Imagine if you will, a new train station in downtown Hamlet. Imagine if Hamlet had a direct connection to Wilmington. Now imagine that train going 200 mph. Hamlet to Wilmington in 38 minutes. Can you believe that? Now imagine that going to other places. Charlotte. Raleigh. Asheville. Now imagine that going even further. Atlanta. Nashville. Memphis. Imagine it going even further still. St. Louis. Dallas. Denver. Grand Junction. Salt Lake City. Las Vegas. Imagine hubs all over the country. North, South, East, and West. Imagine traveling right through the heart of the American Midwest, by train. I for one think that would be amazing.
Now let’s talk particle accelerators. Europe has the largest in the world: The Large Hadron Collider. Why are we letting Europe beat us here? I say let’s engage in some friendly competition and show them who’s boss. But first let’s describe what a particle accelerator is.
A particle accelerator is a big, circular tube built underground. Think of it as a large racetrack for atomic particles. These particles — electrons, protons and neutrons — are accelerated at near the speed of light and are smashed into each other. Smashed? Doesn’t that lead to nuclear explosions? Well, no. We aren’t splitting atoms here. But what good can come of smashing atomic particles then? A ton.
Since the mid-20th century, the study of quantum mechanics has been at the forefront of science. It has uncovered some of the most dramatic discoveries of the human race. And it uncovers more still. The Large Hadron Collider has produced some important discoveries, resulting in some Nobel Prizes. Some have been key to the understanding of our universe. What else will come of it? Let’s think about this way: America needs a rejuvenated science program. In the 60s, we landed men on the moon. Let’s do something big for this century. It’s been a while. And let’s get America back on top.
And the benefits for these two things get better. Not only will they literally accelerate physical items, they will accelerate the economy. Think of the jobs. Each of these would require high-paying jobs. From ticket sales to maintenance to construction to administration to engineers to scientists, many jobs will be needed.
Think about it. Richmond County needs good high-paying jobs. Why not build a new, state-of-the-art railway system with a station and depot right here? America in general needs more high-paying jobs. Other cities and locales will need stations too, not just the big cities. And the best thing is that these jobs can’t be outsourced. People living here will make it. We will put our stamp on it.
Our ancestors built something to be proud of, and we can too. Let’s put our big, American, can-do muscle into this. Let’s make something that will transform the 21st century. It’s time for something that isn’t just Made In America. We need something that is Made For America.
Alex Auman is a Richmond Country native. He currently lives in Charlotte, North Carolina. He writes about politics, ideas and current events.