Robert Goddard wrote a science fiction short story about a very high speed train as an essay for a creative writing class in 1904 when he was an undergrad at WPI. A few years later he rewrote it in a short piece called The High Speed Bet and submitted it to Scientific American where is shortened version was published... magnetic propulsion.
“Just a word or so regarding propulsion, and we are off. From those metal boxes, of which you see three at each end of the car, there project strong electro-magnets, actuated by a number of specially constructed storage battery cells beneath the floor. The car is propelled, in brief, by the repulsion between these magnets and three rows of similar magnets placed in the sides and roof of the tube from one end to the other. The point of most intense magnetization of these magnets in the rows at the sides is a little farther from the car than the similar point of the side magnets of the car, the object being to prevent all pitching. The magnets vary in length, being longer nearer the middle of the tube; and, although they require considerable power, this is furnished cheaply by a battery of wave motors off the Long Island coast. “
It does not require much investigation to see the wonderful capabilities of speed which this mode of travel offers. As the magnets at the sides of the car are strongly repelled by those projecting from the tube immediately below them, the whole car is lifted, so that there is no material in contact with it,—in fact it would require considerable force to press the car down in contact with this row of magnets. But, besides, the magnets in the tube just back of those mentioned are operated at the same time, and these give the push which urges the car forward. You see that friction is utterly done away with, and that there is almost no limit to the speed that can be attained—providedenough power is at command.
“Of course, the current flows in the magnets of the tube only as we pass them; and this action is controlled by small governing magnets beneath the floor at each end of the car. They operate little clutches which close the circuits of the magnets in the sides of the tube, and also the circuits of those in the row on the roof of the tube, when the car moves too high. But you will see for your- selves how this works in practice.”
He motioned to an official who stood beside the door. The man shut the door, clamped it tight, and then switched on a current of electricity, but only for a moment. Then he pulled a long lever and the car moved side wise with a slight jar. Mr. Sibley started a machine which purified the air and replenished the oxygen. It set up a slight draft through the car. With one hand he held his watch, and with the other turned a small hand-wheel.
“Just twenty minutes of ten, gentlemen,” was all he said, as he hurried to his seat beside Mr. Adams.
English, or other languages, are inadequate if you are trying to convey physics. Analogies sometimes work, but particle physics is built on a mostly successful model that is very foreign to most people. So if you are trying to explain something like the Higgs particle, a lot of handwaving takes place. Real handwaving.
Here a few particle physicists are asked to explain the Higgs in layman's terms. Around 9:45 it is set to music and at 11:15 (probably the best place to start) it is only gestures and Bach … some of the editing is clever,
There is an art, it says, or rather, a knack to flying. The knack lies in learning how to throw yourself at the ground and miss. Pick a nice day, The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy suggests, and try it.
The first part is easy. All it requires is simply the ability to throw yourself forward with all your weight, and the willingness not to mind that it's going to hurt.
That is, it's going to hurt if you fail to miss the ground. Most people fail to miss the ground, and if they are really trying properly, the likelihood is that they will fail to miss it fairly hard.
Clearly, it is the second part, the missing, which presents the difficulties.