The dinosaurs of the Jurassic Park franchise are the stuff of legend, and a real-life train line in a remote part of Alaska has been the inspiration for a futuristic “dinosaur night train” that would take passengers on an 18-hour journey from Anchorage to the Canadian Arctic.
“I’ve got a lot of friends who go to the Arctic every year, and they know the train is the only way to get to the mainland,” explains Mark Wiens, a mechanical engineer at Alaska’s Barrow Museum of Natural History.
“They’re not aware of the train line, and we’re the only ones who are aware of it.”
This concept is not new, but it’s not exactly known as the only “dino night train”.
There have been other ideas that have taken the concept from the Jurassic park to other sci-fi classics.
The famous space train in Star Wars has been a common theme in science fiction, but the original version of the railway from The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy has always been a mystery.
“The idea was a long time ago,” Wiens tells New Scientist.
“But I was thinking about it now when I read about the Arctic station, and I realised that I’d had a dream about that train line.”
A vision in a dream A dreamlike train ride would have to be quite different from the reality of the Arctic.
Wiens and his colleague, Ian Clark, were planning to build the Arctic Station from scratch, and the train would take a very different route to that of the classic “space train”.
“It’s not an actual train, but an idea that we came up with,” says Clark.
“It was an idea of a real train that’s operated by a robot that’s connected to a computer.
It’s a computer controlled train.
The computer controls it, and it’s connected through a wire.
And that’s what we’re going to use.”
The station would be an extension of the “discovery and exploration” concept from “Star Wars”, and would have a different look, a different name, and some additional features.
The train would be powered by solar panels that could be placed on the ground and transported through the Arctic through a pipe system, and be able to travel through the vastness of the region at speeds of up to 10km/h.
The technology for such a train would not be cheap.
The team had to find out where to build a power plant to get the solar panels, and get approval from the Department of the Interior.
It would cost about $2 million, which is about as much as a modern power station, but Wiens says the company was prepared to pay for the technology.
“We just couldn’t afford it,” he says.
“And we were in the dark for a long while about where we were going to go.”
The only other known “divergent” from the “Star Trek” franchise is the “Asteroid Express” in the “Journey to the Center of the Earth” films.
The latter film has a divergent idea for the concept: The crew of the Enterprise crew would go to Earth to find the planet’s largest asteroid, only to be met with a hostile race of humanoid beings who have come from another planet.
The ship, however, has a power supply to save the crew from the hostile species.
“You would be flying through the atmosphere, and you would fly to the surface of the asteroid,” says Wiens.
“That’s the idea of the divergent.
You fly through space, you have the spaceship, but you don’t actually fly to another planet.”
This idea, combined with the new technology for the station, is the key to the idea, says Wines.
“What we wanted to do is make the ship more mobile, and so that we could fly through the asteroid and be there on the surface,” he explains.
“If you had to get off the asteroid, you would need to go through the same ship as you were on, and if you didn’t have that ship, you wouldn’t have the power.”
“Divergent was a great idea for me,” says Alan Davies, who plays Spock in the new series of “Starring James Spader”.
“I was just thinking, ‘I can’t believe that it’s a real concept!'”
The station concept is a “pretty big deal” for the Barrow, and Davies says that he and Wiens have been “fascinated by the idea”.
“They were trying to come up with something that was really, really close to what we had in mind,” Davies says, and he was keen to help.
“Alan and I have been working on the concept for the last four years, and Alan is very proud of the concept, so it’s very exciting for him,” he adds.
“He was very excited to be involved.”
The idea has been embraced by some of the world’s leading astrophysic