Apple's MacBook Pro Heating Problem Gets a Software Fix

When Apple revealed its newest MacBook Pro laptops in New York City two weeks ago, it naturally emphasized the computers’ performance capabilities. Apple’s line of pro laptops is targeted toward creative professionals who do processor-intensive work on their PCs, and Apple was eager to appeal to them. There was just one issue, as some early buyers soon found out: In certain scenarios the machines were underperforming due to thermal throttling.

Apple now says it’s aware of the issue and is releasing a software fix to address it. In a statement released today, the company says it’s discovered a bug that’s been slowing down processor speeds when the machine gets hot. “Following extensive performance testing under numerous workloads, we’ve identified that there is a missing digital key in the firmware that impacts the thermal management system and could drive clock speeds down” under heavy loads on the new laptops, an Apple spokesperson said. “We apologize to any customer who has experienced less than optimal performance on their new systems.”

The fix will be available through a macOS High Sierra “supplemental” update going out today. It’s not just on the new 15-inch MacBook Pros running on Intel Core i9 processors (which is what many of the early complaints were about), but on all new 13-inch and 15-inch MacBook Pros. Apple plans to post the results of some of its latest internal tests—including a test that replicates a YouTuber’s experience running Adobe Premiere on a new MacBook Pro—on its website today.

The MacBook Pro software fix is the latest admission (verbal or otherwise) that newer models of Apple laptops may have scattered issues. It comes on the heels of Apple having to launch a repair program for the keyboards on newer MacBooks. But unlike the keyboard issue—which Apple has never apologized for and maintains has only affected a small percentage of users—the company is explicitly acknowledging here that it has found a bug in the software running on the new MacBook Pros.

Hot Metal

Apple first announced the new MacBook Pros earlier this month, in an airy Tribeca loft where a dozen Mac-happy professionals were on hand to vouch for the performance of the laptops. Initial reactions to the new machines (including my own) ranged from impressed—the 15-inch model is running on a six-core, Intel Core i9 chip for the first time, and can be configured with up to four terabytes of SSD—to sticker-shocked, since a fully loaded MacBook Pro costs $6,700.

There were also questions as to why Apple didn’t upgrade the 13-inch, non-Touch Bar MacBook Pro to include the latest Intel chips. This means that if customers want an Apple laptop running the absolute newest chips, they have to buy a MacBook Pro model with a Touch Bar. Buy a model without the Touch Bar and you’re running on outdated silicon.

But shortly after the new MacBook Pros began shipping, some early users and reviewers began to notice that their Core i9 machines weren’t performing as promised. It was assumed by many that the machine was being throttled so that it would generate less heat. One YouTuber, Dave Lee, demonstrated how his new Core i9 MacBook Pro actually performed worse than last year’s laptop running on an Intel Core i7 chip. He even ran a test of his new laptop in a freezer, rendering files in Adobe Premiere, and discovered that the render time was twelve and a half minutes less than it was when his laptop, well, wasn’t in the freezer. However, Jonathan Morrison, another YouTuber, ran a series of tests on two brand new 15-inch MacBook Pros—one with an Intel Core i7 chip and another with a Core i9—and didn’t have the same negative outcomes as Lee.

All of this happened after Apple estimated that its new, top-of-the-line MacBook Pro was “70 percent faster” than the previous model, all features and specs combined. (Apple doubled down in this claim in its statement today, repeating that customers can expect the new 15-inch MacBook Pro to be up to 70 percent faster, and the new 13-inch MacBook Pro to be two times faster, than previous models.)

Off Key

The software fix for MacBook Pros is also coming on the heels of “Keyboardgate.” Late last year writer Casey Johnston of The Outline detailed the issues she was having with her MacBook Pro keyboard, which were believed to be the result of particles getting stuck in the ultra-thin butterfly switch keyboards. Other customers came forward with their own stories of unresponsive keys on newer machines. Eventually, the company launched a free keyboard service program for any newer MacBook keyboard that has letters or characters that repeat unexpectedly or don’t appear at all; or if there are keys that feel sticky.

At the MacBook Pro launch two weeks ago, Apple pointed out that the new keyboards were notably quieter (they are). But company representatives failed to mention one interesting detail, even when pressed by members of the media for more information about the keyboards: The keys on the new MacBook Pros now have a thin, silicone barrier beneath them, which was discovered by iFixit when the techs there tore down the new laptop. Though unconfirmed by Apple, it’s believed the keyboards were designed this way so debris wouldn’t get under the keys and the keys wouldn’t get stuck, not solely for the sake of quietude.

This may be a decent solution—you might even call it clever—to the sticky-key problem. But the real problem is larger, and that’s a lack of transparency on the part of Apple as to what’s really going on in the products it sells and how it’s managing the problems that arise.

You could rightly point out that Apple has always operated within a shroud of secrecy, so it’s not surprising that certain aspects of its engineering aren’t just blurted out in press briefings. But the recent issues with the MacBook Pro goes beyond the “magic sauce” it doesn’t want to share. In order for something to be magic, it has to work in the first place. These are premium products that don’t always live up to their maker’s promises. Apple sometimes openly acknowledges its products’ flaws, as it has now done with the software bug. But then again, it sometimes doesn’t.


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Google Chrome Now Labels HTTP Sites as 'Not Secure'

Nearly two years ago, Google made a pledge: It would name and shame websites with unencrypted connections, a strategy designed to spur web developers to embrace HTTPS encryption. On Tuesday, it finally follows through.

With the launch of Chrome 68, Google will now call out sites with unencrypted connections as “Not Secure” in the URL bar. The move flips the convention of how Chrome displays the security of sites on its head. Previously, pages that deployed HTTPS-enabled encrypted connections were preceded by a green lock icon and the word “Secure” in the URL bar. HTTP sites had a small icon that you could click for more information; if you did, it read, “Your connection to this site is not secure. You should not enter any sensitive information on this site (for example, passwords or credit cards), because it could be stolen by attackers.”

It’s a warning worth heeding. Under an unencrypted HTTP connection, any information that you send across the web can be intercepted by a hacker or other bad actor. In extreme cases, like so-called man-in-the-middle attacks, someone could pose as a destination site, tricking you into handing over your credentials, credit card info, or other sensitive information.

“Encryption is something that web users should expect by default,” says Chrome security product manager Emily Schechter.

The use of HTTP has privacy implications, as well. If you’re browsing on an unsecured connection, your internet provider and any bad actors can hypothetically see not just which site you’re on, but what specific pages. Not so with HTTPS, a benefit that has clear implications for, say, adult sites. Even innocuous sites—pages that neither ask for nor contain sensitive information—have good reason to embrace it.

“You may occasionally be in a coffee shop. If you go to a non-HTTPS site, sometimes you’ll get ads that pop over the page. Those aren’t ads from the web page; they’ve been injected somewhere along the way. That kind of behavior is what HTTPS overcomes,” says Ross Schulman, senior counsel at New America’s Open Technology Institute. “It’s not just ads. Malware is served this way, a lot. It’s not just about making sure that user information is private, it really ensures the integrity of the website.”

Sticking a warning sign in front of unencrypted sites is just one step in a broader, ongoing plan. In January 2017, Chrome put a warning on sites that asked for credit card information. Several months later, they instituted it on HTTP sites in incognito windows.

Despite the broader security benefits, Google’s HTTPS push is not without its critics. Developer Dave Winer, one of the creators of RSS, objects to what he views as Google imposing its will on the open web. “The fact is that they’re forcing it,” says Winer, who also wrote a detailed objection actions in February. “They’re just the tech industry. The web is so much bigger than the tech industry. That’s the arrogance of this.”

Winer worries that forced HTTPS adoption—and scolding sites that don’t embrace it—will penalize web developers who don’t have the wherewithal to implement it, and potentially cordons off older, passively managed corners of the web. He also worries that Google won’t stop here. “Was this the only way to achieve this end? Because this is draconian,” Winer says. “If this were done properly, it would have been deliberated, and a lot of people who aren’t in the tech industry would have had a say in it.”

For what it’s worth, Chrome is not alone in posting warnings next to HTTP sites; Firefox has explored it as well. Between them, they have 73 percent of browser market share. And Google notes that the vast majority of Chrome traffic—76 percent on Android, and 85 percent on ChromeOS—already travels across an HTTPS connection. Gains have come not just from Google, but from a broader push toward HTTPS that ranges from hosting sites like WordPress and Squarespace, to internet infrastructure companies like Cloudflare, to Let’s Encrypt, a service that provides free certificates that enable HTTPS connections. As of Tuesday, Let’s Encrypted has secured 113 million sites.

“It’s not like you need a big IT department or a ton of money to turn on HTTPS. Particularly for small, simple sites, it should be extremely easy and straightforward,” Schechter says.

The ubiquity of HTTPS was no sure bet as recently as two years ago, when only 37 of the top 100 sites on the web used it. Now, Google says, 83 do. (WIRED made the jump in 2016, in a rollout that took five months and no small number of headaches.) Let’s Encrypt, in particular, has been a boon to smaller site operators.

“Expecting every website to enable HTTPS would have been unreasonable prior to the existence of Let’s Encrypt, which lowers financial, technical, and educational barriers to enabling HTTPS,” says Josh Aas, cofounder of Internet Security Research Group, the organization behind Let’s Encrypt. “Our focus on ease of use at scale has been a primary driver behind the incredible growth in HTTPS deployment in recent years.”

In many ways, Tuesday’s announcement is just the continuation of a still-ongoing plan to promote HTTPS around the web. In September, Google will remove the “Secure” indicator next to HTTPS sites, a sign that encrypted connections have largely become the default posture online. And in October, if you attempt to enter data on an HTTP page, Chrome will show you a “not secure” warning in red.

The web still has dangers plenty, and HTTPS may well take a toll on certain sites that can’t or won’t upgrade. But at least, as of Tuesday, you can make the baseline assumption that your connection is secure. And if it’s not, Chrome will tell you.


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Never Be Too Busy to Hold An Offsite Employee Meeting. Here's Why

Every business owner wants to improve efficiency and employee satisfaction. Ideas that could lead to cost-saving systems and processes are extremely valuable, and peace of mind is priceless. These are all things a small business owner can gain with a small investment of time and very little money. Yet, many avoid a valuable opportunity to tap into these coveted prizes. 

I’m talking about offsite meetings. You know, those day-long gatherings where you and your employees actually meet live and in person for an extended period of time? I’ve never had a client regret investing time and resources into offsite meetings, it’s just the opposite. In some cases, I’ve seen operations do a 180-degree about-face (in a good way) based on the findings of a well-run offsite meeting. 

Voice conferences, emails, Slack communications, and texts can only go so far. Successful communication is largely based on body language (some say 55% of communication is in our body language). Camaraderie is built upon trust and collaboration, and powerful results are built upon a foundation of all of the above. Here are some of the benefits of offsite meetings, along with a few suggestions to make them enjoyable and productive.

You will tap into your employees’ greatest strengths.

Your team members are tasked with short and long-term goals, but contributions based on goals alone don’t allow employers to benefit from all of their employees’ gifts. Sometimes the best ideas come from the least expected resources. Be sure to allow time for feedback and brainstorming at your offsites, and find creative ways to encourage all to participate. 

Longer face-to-face meetings minimize assumptions. 

A 30-minute gathering in your conference room, or around the dining room table, which may be the case if you operate virtually, does not give employees a chance to really get to know one another. It’s human nature to make assumptions about an individual’s disposition, intentions, and thought processes if we don’t know them well. The opportunity to witness body language, and to engage in deeper, lengthier conversations will provide participants with a more realistic image of their co-workers. This allows for communications and processes to be adjusted accordingly. 

Eye contact increases the impact of recognition.

Different personality types respond to different means of praise, but no matter how recognition is delivered there is nothing that beats doing it with eye contact. Your meetings should include verbal recognition and, in some cases, a reward for your employees’ contributions. For some business owners, it’s easier to send off an email or make a quick phone call, but a public mention offers greater rewards for everyone.

In-person brainstorming can improve efficiency and impact.

There’s always more than one way to achieve any desired outcome, and your way may not be the most efficient or impactful. As entrepreneurs pass the baton to their growing teams, they also pass along a process. As the company continues to evolve, these processes may become burdensome, redundant, or inefficient. Use some of your meeting time to review how things are getting done and ask employees for their input. You’re likely to find a few hidden gems.

Communicates value to your employees.

Your employees, bar none, are your most valuable asset, so treat them accordingly. When an owner or manager does not make time for their employees it sends the message that they are not valued. Morale plummets, performance suffers, and turnover increases. Your time and attention are meaningful, and an offsite meeting offers the perfect platform to communicate your appreciation and respect. 

Tips on hosting successful offsite meetings.

Avoid being all business and no play.

Keeping to your agenda is important to the success of your offsite meeting, but if it doesn’t allow for social time and a bit of levity your meeting won’t be a total success. If you are not the person to bring humor or innovative ways to encourage engagement, hand these parts of the meeting over to someone who can deliver. 

Schedule offsites well in advance.

There is no magic formula to determine how many offsites per year are best for your company. If you are completely virtual the number may be higher. If you have a location where employees maintain regular work hours, you may require fewer offsites, but do not dismiss their importance. Well planned, well-run meetings can produce amazing results, yet it’s often the first thing to get scratched off the list when time feels limited (which is always). Once you determine the number of offsite meetings that’s right for you, schedule them in advance and make them a priority. Ask an employee for assistance in setting them up so the burden is not completely yours alone. 

Ask your employees to prepare.

Treat your advance preparation time like you would any other important task. Put prep time on your calendar to take place a couple of weeks prior to the meeting. Communicate what each employee needs to prepare or consider well ahead of time. Respect the fact that your employees are busy too, don’t drop demands on them at the last minute.

All-in-all, be creative, timely, well-prepared, communicative, and open-minded. Your efforts will pay off in more ways than you may believe–including at the bottom line. 

Why You Should Start Your Next Company in the City of Lights

All over the country of France, the streets are abuzz with excitement as the men’s football (soccer) team took the highest achievement in the world for the first time in 10 years. It seems all eyes have been on Paris, with stories and images capturing the passion of a generation that exhibits a certain joie de vivre not only for their sports, but also for their country’s growing role in the global tech scene.

France’s leadership put a stake in the ground 10 years ago to make Paris the financial capital of Europe, and with the highest GDP on the European continent, Paris has become an increasingly viable place to launch and develop tech companies. And top titans of tech are taking notice, with icons like Sheryl Sandberg and John Chambers asserting Paris as the place to be in Europe right now, but why is the City of Lights exploding now?

The Funding Flows

Since 2014, Paris has been making a fast and furious run to the top of the list of startup investment deals in Europe, outpacing Germany in 2016 and surpassing the UK last year. The country boasts the highest birth rate of new companies and more money was invested in French startups in the last quarter than anywhere else in Europe.

Last year (2017) also saw a record year for deals made to French tech companies, increasing by nearly 45 percent, and investors are putting in more money than ever. In fact, the average investment rose from €2.4m in 2014 to €4.1m in 2016. [[source?]] And the first generation of French unicorns, BlaBlaCar and Criteo, have not only achieved tremendous success, but are now choosing to invest in other French entrepreneurs, extending the start-up ecosystem.

It’s Cool to Be a Founder

Some have said the French have been slower to accept the cultural shift in career paths for young people. While in the U.S. we’ve grown accustomed to 20-year-old CEO’s, the French have been more reluctant to jump on that bandwagon–choosing to pursue careers in more established industries like banking and management consulting–but times are changing.

Some of this shift is the result of a nudge from the French government, which for the last decade has made a concerted effort to ensure France is seen as a country doubling down on technology and fostering innovation.

The election of President Macron last summer further cemented this commitment, fueling the French Finance Minister to roll out a $13 billion disruptive innovation fund, with special focus on artificial intelligence, data protection, defense, energy, health, telecommunications, transport and water. Experts also point to La French Tech, a publicly funded initiative to promote French startups, as a major factor in bolstering the rise of Paris as a tech hub.

France Is Where the Talent’s At

French tech talent, particularly in engineering, are among the best in the world. French engineering schools have produced top tier innovators for years and the country now graduates as many engineers as their German neighbors. More importantly, that talent is being fostered and mentored by top tier enterprises and collaborating more than ever.

France now houses 450 incubators and accelerators, including Paris’ leading projects Partech Shaker and Station F. These campuses offer the most elite office space for startups in the country and provide founders with unmatched opportunities for networking and mentorship. Among present and past residents of Partech Shaker, which is a Techstars’ partner, are Dropbox, HotelTonight, Hired and Pinterest.

The shift in focus on technology and innovation in France has long been recognized and prioritized as a vital national movement that French citizens are incredibly proud of; however, global recognition is a more recent phenomenon. And with both talent and capital continuing to pour into the country, it’s safe to say that the growth will not just continue but will do so exponentially.

Is Your Side Hustle Stretching You Too Thin?

If your brain is filled with endless new ideas that could lead you to your next big thing, I say brava. Experiment! But you also need to know when to move on.

For the past two years I’ve absolutely loved hosting my podcast Hiding in the Bathroom. But, I had to quit it. It stopped making sense.

In addition to satisfying my curiosity and indulging my thwarted dream to be the next Oprah, blogging and podcasting became both a side hustle and a way to build my personal brand . Although the money I earned was negligible compared to my day job, it helped, and the ego gratification made up for the lack of compensation. Plus, as a committed introvert who hates networking events, digital content creation became an invaluable networking tool, allowing me to “meet” potential clients and other exciting people without ever having to leave my house.

I had to stop my podcast because the cost began to outweigh the return. The demands of my day job picked up, which is great, because that’s how I earn the majority of my living. Increased time with clients meant my side hustle work always came last in the priority list. The demands of preparing and recording a weekly podcast meant the time couldn’t be used for paid client work, or being with my children. I had to face facts. The effort needed to take the podcast to the next level (where it might have enough listeners to attract paid sponsorship) was too great.

Photo by Lost Co on UnsplashPhoto by Lost Co on Unsplash

I know myself and I know my boundaries. Giving up sleep or paying more money to hire help for the podcast violate limits I’ve set for myself. I’m never going to be a professional podcaster, and I many bills to pay.

Here’s how to take stock and make sure you’re doing all that work for a good reason.

  • You have a clear reason for why you’re doing it, and what you want from it. In the age of Entrepreneurship Porn where everyone we know seems to be a influencer or entrepreneur it’s hard to just stick with the nine to five. But FOMO isn’t a good reason for starting a passion project. There’s no bad reason to start a side hustle, but it’s crucial to know what your ROI is (fun and creative exploration is a wonderful reason!). Here are some possible reasons
  • Renown: I want magazine covers!
  • Innovation or voice: my voice is unique and no can do what I am planning to do
  • Money: I have a target amount I want to put aside and this seems like a reasonable way to get there
  • Excitement: I need to be inspired and my day job doesn’t cut it
  • Prominence in your field/reaching the next level: It’s important to me that my work is honored by colleagues and I want to get ahead. I need my personal brand to stand out and to do that, I must launch this project.

The reason you start doesn’t matter. The key is understanding your motivation and the return you expect.

  • You know what you’re willing to give up to get it done right. I used to read food blogs and think- “Cooking for fun? What an easy way to make a living”! This couldn’t be more wrong; the average recipe post takes up to a week to produce. The average 22 minute podcast takes about 8 hours to produce. You’re competing in a grand pool, where standards are high. Are you willing to make the time and garner the expertise demanded?
  • You can afford to spare the time. Time is money after all, so it’s important to make sure that hours given to your passion project won’t harm your finances too much or prevent you from maximizing current income. I suggest giving yourself a runway, or a pilot period. Set yourself a timetable of six months, a year, whatever works for you, to experiment with the project. If the runway ends and your side hustle still isn’t producing measurable results, consider saying goodbye.
  • The personal brand value is truly incremental to what’s out there already. Putting a product out there with your name on it can be a great way to stand out. The pages of Forbes are filled with smart thinkers who parlayed their blogging into new opportunities. And yes, the first time someone takes notice of your work is tremendously gratifying. How much of it is truly valuable to your career? Will more content, more panels, or more hours provide incremental value to the digital footprint or professional reputation you already have?
  • You won’t be able to live with yourself if you don’t pursue your dream. Enough said. Go do it.

Steve Jobs famously said, “Innovation is saying ‘no’ to 1,000 things.” I agree with Jobs, just probably not in the way he meant it.

It’s easy for a billionaire genius like Steve Jobs to say no. It’s not easy for the rest of us. Why? Because every cultural message says success means saying yes. “Side hustle” and “personal brand” are two of the hottest success recipes out there right now- but your passion projects could also be sucking you dry.

One of the best things about our digital age is the ease at which we can express ourselves creatively, earn a few dollars on the side, and enter new worlds. When I started blogging in 2005, I felt like I’d uncovered a secret. I could opine freely, press publish, and my words would be part of the world. With every new idea I wanted to write about my heart would race and I’d rush to flesh out the idea. To this day my Google drive contains precisely 167 half finished articles.

After too many years of regretting saying yes or being unable to follow through, I’ve know myself. Saying yes too much wreaks havoc on my mental and physical health, my time, and my finances. I have to respect my personal limits, even if I don’t like them. Then again, I’m sure I’ll be back with a new passion project soon. It’s just who I am.

Elon Musk’s Most Exciting Company Is Boring

UNDER THE WARM ASPHALT of West Los Angeles, beneath bumper-to-bumper traffic and swaying palm trees, Elon Musk is searching for answers. There, a boring machine named Godot may soon grind away at a 2.7-mile tunnel to run below Interstate 405, a key reason that L.A. retains its crown as the U.S. city with the worst traffic.

The tunnel currently awaits a permit, and Angelenos may be waiting a while before it’s complete. (Paging Vladimir and Estragon.) But Musk, who spends his days juggling CEO roles at electric-auto maker Tesla and aerospace outfit SpaceX, has something to prove. Practically speaking, the Bel Air resident wants easier transit between his homes and the SpaceX campus in Hawthorne, 17 miles to the south. From a theoretical standpoint, Musk hopes to demonstrate that subterranean, supersonic public transit isn’t just a futuristic fantasy but a realistic solution for what ails many of America’s busiest (and most cash-strapped) metropolises.

Enter Musk’s cleverly named Boring Company. It has announced projects to connect Baltimore with Washington, D.C. (a 35-mile span), and downtown Chicago with O’Hare International Airport (a 17-mile stretch). In Chitown, the Chicago Express Loop promises to ferry passengers from one end to the other in 12 minutes—far less time than the usual 25 to 90, depending on the mode of transportation. This Loop—not to be confused with Hyperloop, an ultrafast, regional version—boasts electromagnetic pods that each fit 16 passengers and can reach speeds of 150 miles per hour. It plans to transport nearly 2,000 people an hour in each direction, with cars departing every 30 seconds to two minutes.

But it’s not just technology that the Boring Co. is bringing to the table. Unlike other urban projects of this size, no government funding is necessary to realize the Chicago project: The Boring Co. promises to privately fund the entirety of what will likely be a multibillion

A rendering of the terminus for the Boring Co.’s Chicago Express Loop linking the city’s downtown area with O’Hare International Airport. It could take as little as four

A rendering of the terminus for the Boring Co.’s Chicago Express Loop linking the city’s downtown area with O’Hare International Airport. It could take as little as four

Courtesy of The Boring Company

dollar effort. And thanks to a City of Chicago request for proposals, the plan has a complete go-ahead from officials—unlike the L.A. and D.C. projects, which face some time in legal limbo. That makes the Chicago Express Loop the Boring Co.’s first sizable victory and strongest validation from a city government to date, in what could be a path forward for future advancements in public infrastructure.

“Let’s face it—federal support for urban rail projects is not likely to bounce back anytime soon,” says Joe Schwieterman, director of DePaul University’s Chaddick Institute for Metropolitan Development. “Cities will be left to fend for themselves, making it critical that they remain open to private-sector collaboration.”

Major U.S. cities face a chronic shortfall in capital investment dollars. With 35,000 daily passengers projected to move between the airport and downtown in 2045, Chicago is left with little choice but to leverage the private sector—and take a chance on Musk—to fill mobility gaps. But there are risks to placing public projects in private hands, warns Yonah Freemark, the urbanist behind The Transport Politic. In Chicago, for example, residents remain in the dark about the technical and economic feasibility of the Boring Co. project.

“The public sector is allowing the company to move forward with this project without actual consideration from the public,” Freemark says. “That should be concerning for people who want to be involved in the transit future of their communities.”

Elsewhere, regulatory hurdles and governmental requests—such as for environmental analysis and public hearings—have stifled the progress of Boring Co. projects in California and Maryland. “The signal systems, federal approvals required to put people on these vehicles, and the need for elevators and ventilation shafts when digging long distances beyond the surface—those are really big questions that are going to need answers,” Schwieterman says. (The Boring Co. declined to comment.)

Still, Musk bores ahead. If he is successful in Chicago, elected officials across the country might be inclined to take a similar leap of faith. After all, if Musk can shoot for Mars, what’s a little bedrock between friends?

A version of this article appears in the August 1, 2018 issue of Fortune with the headline “Elon Musk’s Most Exciting Company Is Boring.”

Ask Ethan: Which Movies Get The Science Of Time Travel Right?

The “Jules Verne Train” from Back To The Future Part III. This is maybe not what Einstein had in mind when he formulated his relativistic thought experiments, but the science can be evaluated here.R. Zemeckis / Back to the Future III

The way we travel through time, at a speed of one second per second, is so boring that we take it for absolute granted. Yet according to Einstein’s theory of relativity, we can not only travel forward through time at different rates by accelerating close to the speed of light, we could potentially travel either forwards or backwards by constructing a bridge through two disconnected locations in spacetime. Time travel, either forwards or backwards, has long been a staple of our imaginations and our stories; who wouldn’t want to explore the unseeable future or go back in time to right a past wrong? But getting those stories to be scientifically accurate is another job entirely. Which movies do the best at that? That’s what Ernio Hernandez wants to know, as he asks:

I’m admittedly a fan of time-travel movies (however they explain it). What movie makes the best case for using this plot device accurately?

Let’s take a look at what makes a good time travel movie, and see how your favorites stack up.

A relativistic journey toward the constellation of Orion. As you move closer to the speed of light, not only does space appear distorted, but your distance to the stars appears contracted, and less time passes for you as you travel. StarStrider, a relativistic 3D planetarium program by FMJ-Software, was used to produce the Orion illustrations.Alexis Brandeker

If your goal is scientific accuracy, we have to understand what traveling through time looks like. One of the most revolutionary things that Einstein’s relativity brought us was the notion that space and time aren’t separate, absolute entities, but that they’re inextricably linked. The Universe is made of a four-dimensional fabric known as spacetime, and all objects, particles, and radiation exist within it. This leads to an odd, not-necessarily-intuitive phenomenon: your motion through time is affected by your motion through space, and vice versa.

A “light clock” will appear to run different for observers moving at different relative speeds, but this is due to the constancy of the speed of light. Einstein’s law of special relativity governs how these time and distance transformations take place.John D. Norton, via http://www.pitt.edu/~jdnorton/teaching/HPS_0410/chapters/Special_relativity_clocks_rods/

Any object existing within this spacetime will immediately notice three things:

  1. other objects in motion relative to them will have their distances shortened and their clocks time-dilated,
  2. relative to them, light always moves at the same speed: c, the speed of light in vacuum, and
  3. their motion through spacetime is determined by the curvature of spacetime, which depends on the matter-and-energy around them in the Universe.

If you’re in a particular, fixed frame of reference (like stationary on the Earth’s surface), then anyone who goes in motion relative to you will move a larger amount through space, meaning they’ll move a smaller amount through time.

Moving close to the speed of light will cause time to pass appreciably differently for the traveler versus the person who remains in a constant frame of reference.Twin Paradox, via http://www.twin-paradox.com/

This is why the famous twin paradox works the way it does: someone leaving Earth and traveling close to the speed of light will age less than their identical twin who remains on Earth. The one who moves through space at a greater speed will experience a slower motion through time. If we begin considering General Relativity, where we include the effects of gravity, being deep in a strong gravitational field will have a similar effect on you: time will pass at what seems to be a normal rate for you, but far away from your location, everyone else will age much faster. This reaches its extreme near the singularity of a black hole, after you’ve fallen in past the event horizon.

Exact mathematical plot of a Lorentzian wormhole. If one end of a wormhole is built out of positive mass/energy, while the other is built of negative mass/energy, the wormhole can become traversible.Wikimedia Commons user Kes47

But in General Relativity, there’s another fascinating possibility that arises: that of a wormhole. Wormholes are most commonly thought of as short-cuts through space, but there’s no reason that these shortcuts need to be through space alone; spacetime is just as good! You can use one, if you can create, stabilize, and travel (or send information) through one, to go back or forwards in time by an arbitrary amount. You can even create loops, or closed-timelike-curves, as robust mathematical solutions under the right conditions.

For example, there is a way, in the context of General Relativity, to travel back in time to a specific location; it just requires a little bit of setup.

Warp travel, as envisioned for NASA. If you created a wormhole between two points in space, with one mouth moving relativistically relative to the other, observers at either traversible end would have aged by vastly different amounts.NASA / Digital art by Les Bossinas (Cortez III Service Corp.), 1998

If you create a massive black hole out of matter, alongside another black hole out of negative mass (which we must theoretically assume exists), you can create a wormhole between the two. Separate them by as far as you want, and accelerate one end of the wormhole close to the speed of light. As long as you’re traveling with that accelerated end, you can step through it whenever you want, and arrive at the other end of the wormhole unscathed. The best part? Because you’ve been traveling close to the speed of light, time has passed differently for you. When you step back through the wormhole, it will be as though virtually no time has passed back at home. You could travel for hundreds of years, and then return to your departure point just seconds after you left. In that sense, traveling back in time could really, physically happen.

Is time travel possible? With a large enough wormhole, such as one created by a supermassive black hole connected to its negative mass/energy counterpart, it just might be.Wikimedia Commons user Kjordand

There’s a lot that’s possible, and there are plenty of movies that have taken advantage of the combination of a time machine and imaginative storytelling. Of course, there are also plenty of movies that skimp on the science in this regard.

No one remembers Timecop, Hot Tub Time Machine, or Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure for their incredibly accurate portrayals of time travel or a time machine. Idiocracy involves time travel only in the sense that time passes, even while inanimate objects (or people) remain inanimate. (Although, at least the “Time Masheen” is accurate.) Superman rewinds time to save Lois Lane’s life in the original Superman movie, but that’s due to superpowers, not science. Ditto for the recent Doctor Strange movie, or the cult classic Warlock, or Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban; using magic as the mechanism for time travel isn’t going to score you very many science points. In a great many films, time travel is more of a plot device than anything resembling scientific accuracy. Even Army of Darkness, fun though it is, doesn’t have a viable mechanism for the time travel it invokes.

Reading an incantation from the Necronomicon and being hurled back in time makes for a fascinating movie, but doesn’t exactly pass the scientific smell test.Universal Pictures

But some films, even though they don’t talk about or depict the mechanism of time travel in any detail, do admirably succeed in describing how time travel would actually work. Traveling forward is easy: you go close to the speed of light, you return to your departure point, and now you’re far in the future. This is how Planet of the Apes sent a human far into the future on a dystopian Earth, and why Star Wars is so dissatisfying when they engage the hyperdrive. Going fast has real consequences for the passage of time, bringing you into the future no matter what else you do.

The hyperdrive from Star Wars appears to depict an ultra-relativistic motion through space, extremely close to the speed of light. But no one ages differently from normal, an apparent violation of relativity.Jedimentat44 / flickr

Going back in time, particularly to a fixed location in the past, is a staple of time travel movies. There are two theories about how this works:

  1. The timeline is fixed; all that happens is written already, and when you travel back in time, you cannot change the course of events. Your time travel is already written into the timeline.
  2. The timeline is malleable; the changes you make by going back in time will lead to a different future, perhaps even negating your own existence.

Two great examples of the first theory are Twelve Monkeys and Looper, where the future is already written. Traveling back in time allows you to live and interact with the past, but it doesn’t change the course of history. The events that unfolded to cause you to go back in time have already occurred. You’re simply living out your life, knowing full well what the world’s destiny is.

The idea of traveling back in time has long fascinated humans, such as in Back To The Future’s Delorean DMC-12. After decades of research, we may have hit upon a solution that’s physically possible, but a Delorean might not be required.Ed g2s of Wikimedia Commons

On the other hand, there’s the possibility that your future isn’t written, even if you yourself came from the future. The Back to the Future franchise and the Terminator/Terminator 2 movies are very sensitive to this. Even though they’re light on the details of how time travel physically works, save for a few key component ingredients, the actions that the time-travelers take can alter their future. Kyle Reese/Sarah Connor can avoid or delay judgment day, battling a terminator sent back to murder (or prevent the existence of) the boy that will battle the rise of the machines. Marty McFly travels through time to save his friend’s life, but has to ensure he doesn’t prevent his own existence in the process. These are two of the best examples of a time travel movie where the future is alterable. The 2009 Star Trek, Star Trek: First Contact, and Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home all play with this as well, to great effect.

The most-visualized black hole of all, as illustrated in the movie Interstellar, shows a predicted event horizon fairly accurately for a very specific class of rotating black holes. Deep within the gravitational well, time passes at a different rate for observers than it does for us far outside of it.Interstellar / R. Hurt / Caltech

There are two movies that stand out for scientific accuracy in time travel while including a great level of detail: Interstellar and Contact. Both movies, ironically, consulted with the same scientist, Kip Thorne, and both take advantage of the black hole/wormhole idea. Deep in the gravitational field of a black hole in Interstellar, time passes at a different rate, leading to a relativistic twist late in the movie. In Contact, a seeming instant on Earth coincided with a nearly-day-long excursion across the galaxy and, potentially the Universe. The physics of wormholes, black holes, and General Relativity is on full display in these films, and in spectacular fashion no less.

Bill Murray puts down a pitcher of coffee with Andie MacDowell in a scene from the film ‘Groundhog Day’, 1993. (Columbia Pictures/Getty Images)

Finally, there’s perhaps the most realistic and interesting movie to make use of time travel in the “time loop” sense: Groundhog Day. Any solution in General Relativity that admits closed-timelike-curves is usually rejected because of philosophical concerns like the Grandfather Paradox, but these mathematical solutions are internally self-consistent and could describe reality, particularly if we accept that the start of the loop “resets” with every iteration. Groundhog Day makes phenomenal use of this, and the time loop is only broken when sufficient changes are made in this humorous, ethical tale of kindness and self-discovery. Although it, too, is short on the science, its depiction of a time loop is second to none. (Although I have not seen Edge Of Tomorrow.)

And those are the movies (that I’ve seen) that deal with time travel that get the science right!


Send in your Ask Ethan questions to startswithabang at gmail dot com!

Dive Under the Ice With the Brave Robots of Antarctica

The lava fields of Hawaii. The peaks of the Himalayas. The crowds of a Justin Bieber concert. These are among the most perilous of environments on planet Earth, places where few humans dare tread. They ain’t got nothin’, though, on waters of our planet’s polar regions, where frigid temperatures and considerable pressures would snuff a puny human like you in a heartbeat.

Robots, though? This is the stuff their tough-as-hell bodies were made for. This is the domain of Seabed, the sensor-packed machine that dives over a mile deep into the polar seas—autonomously—collecting invaluable data. But it comes at a price: Getting the bot back to its icebreaking boat alive can be more challenging than communicating with a Mars rover millions of miles away.

Seabed doesn’t swim like your typical autonomous underwater vehicle. Most are shaped like torpedoes, which allows them to efficiently cut through the water like jets. Seabed instead can use its propellers to hover in the water column like a helicopter. This allows it to hang over the seafloor and map it with sonar, or cozy up next to ice to measure its thickness.

The robot can’t be tethered for hardwired communication, on account of the ice, and radio waves don’t work underwater. So instead, Seabed sends signals of sound (like MIT’s hypnotic fish robot). Even then, the robot isn’t always a reliable communicator. “If we are lucky, we get a 256 byte packet once every minute,” says Northeastern University roboticist Hanumant Singh, who developed Seabed. “And there are no guarantees that we can get it.” Compare that to how NASA scientists communicate with Mars rovers: The signal takes an average of 20 minutes to get from the robots to Earth, but at least it’s consistent. If Singh needs to ping Seabed, the signal might not get there.

To account for the dropped signals, Singh gives the robot a course to, say, run along a particular stretch of the seafloor and map it with sonar. If something appears to be going awry, like colder weather blows in and starts freezing over the ice hole Seabed’s supposed to surface in, Singh can send a signal to cut the mission short. Ideally, it reaches the recipient quickly. (He’s only lost one of these robots, by the way, not because of a communication breakdown but because an intense current swept it away.)

If Seabed comes up in the wrong spot under thick ice, there’s also no guarantee its operators can get it out of the water. It may come up near the icebreaker, like on one mission in 2010. You can’t go breaking ice willy-nilly near a $500,000 robot, so the researchers had to dig a small hole in the ice. This gave them access to the vehicle, to which they attached weights to sink it a bit, but also a float to keep it from plummeting to the bottom of the sea. Then the ship could crack open up the ice further—carefully still, of course—and pull the robot out. On another nearly ill-fated mission, the researchers had to deploy a smaller tethered ROV to grab Seabed and tow it safely to open water.

Generally, though, Seabed returns to within just a few meters of where operators expect it to surface. Again, if the robot weren’t reliably autonomous, this environment would eat it alive.

And once Seabed is in the water, it’s happy as a fish in … water. It’s sealed up nice and tight to keep freezing water from infiltrating the electronics. So if you bring it out of a warm ship hangar and drop it in the sea quickly, it’ll be alright. Where things get problematic is when you have to pull the robot out of the water, then expect to use it again right away.

“You put the vehicle in the water and you’re doing a test and you realize, oh, we forgot something,” says Singh. The water itself is around 40 degrees Fahrenheit, but the air drops to zero degrees. “You bring the vehicle back up and now it’s completely encased in ice.”

But enough about problems. Seabed is one tenacious science machine, whose job is more important than ever in these times of climate change. In addition to mapping the seafloor with sonar, it can do the same with ice to measure its thickness.

Which, sure, you could do by drilling lots of holes and dropping tape measures through. But sea ice turns out to be beautifully complicated. “In the Arctic and the Antarctic, ice isn’t just sitting there and thickening as it freezes on a lake,” says sea ice physicist Ted Maksym of the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, who has worked with Seabed. “It’s moving around and all the flows are crashing into each other, and when they do they form these huge piles of ice.”

These features develop not only above the surface, but as much as 60 feet deep, which Seabed can map with sonar, swimming back and forth across the face of the ice. “It’s just like mowing your lawn from below,” says Maksym.

What Maksym wants to understand is how ice thickens and thins in polar regions. In the arctic, for instance, old ice is disappearing, and ice in general is becoming more seasonal. “So understanding how the processes that govern the thickness of ice change as the arctic changes helps us understand how the arctic is going to respond to climate change,” says Maksym.

That means putting Seabed in danger, sure, but also means taking human divers out of danger. The robot may get stuck under the ice from time to time, but the data it’s gathering is vital to science’s understanding of Earth’s most brutal environments not affiliated with Justin Bieber.

A Comprehensive Guide to the Physics of Running on the Moon

One day humans will have a permanent presence on the moon. Right? One day it’s going to happen. So, how are we going to live on the moon? And maybe a more important question—how are we going to move around there? In preparation for our lunar colony, let me look at three motions that we could do on the moon: jumping, running, and turning.

Let me note that this analysis is inspired by Andy Weir’s recent novel Artemis. I’m not going to spoil the plot except to say there is a girl that moves around on the moon. Weir does a pretty nice job describing what would be different about moving on the moon as compared to the Earth.

What is different about the moon compared to the Earth? The biggest difference is the gravitational field on the surface. On the Earth, the field has a strength of 9.8 Newtons per kilogram (we use the symbol g for this). This means that a free falling object (no air resistance) would have a downward acceleration of 9.8 m/s2. On the moon, the gravitational field is about 1.6 N/kg, so that the vertical acceleration of an moon-object would be much less than one on Earth.

There is another important difference with the moon: It doesn’t have any air. If you are a human jumping, that might not be a big deal; an Earth-bound jumping human doesn’t move fast enough for air resistance to play a significant role. However, on the moon that same human would probably want to wear a spacesuit. This suit would both increase the effective mass and decrease the range of motion for a moving human. Oh, if there is a moon base there would probably be air inside of it so that you wouldn’t have to wear a spacesuit unless you just thought it looked cool (it would).

Jumping on the moon

I will start with the easiest motion—jumping straight up. Let’s say that during a normal human jump, a human pushes on the ground with some maximum force over some set distance. This distance is from the lowest position in pre-jump squat, up until the feet are no longer in contact with the ground.

Now for some starting values (you can change these if you like). I’m going to say this maximum jump force is three times the weight of the person (the weight on Earth) and the jump distance is 15 centimeters—that’s just a guess. With these values, I cannot model the motion of a jumping human on Earth. I’ll just calculate the total force as either the upward pushing force plus gravity while “in contact” with the ground or just gravity after that. It should be a fairly straightforward numerical calculation.

For a jumping human on the moon, I am going to make a few changes. Obviously the gravitational field will change—but also some other things. I’m going to assume the human is wearing a spacesuit, so this will increase the total mass (but not the max jumping force). Also, since a spacesuit is bulky, the jumping distance will also be smaller. OK, let’s get to it. Here are two jumpers (moon and Earth). If you want the code for this calculation—here you go.

Here is what it would look like (using spherical humans for simplicity).

Also, here is a plot of the vertical position of both jumpers.

A few things to notice. First, the Earth jumper starts off with a faster speed. Why? Because the moon jumper has more mass (spacesuit and stuff). Second, the moon jumper both goes higher and stays off the ground for a much longer time because of the lower vertical acceleration.

But wait! How about a real video of a moon jump? Here is a video of John Young’s famous “jump salute” during the Apollo 16 mission.

[embedded content]

Pretty cool—but without a spacesuit, a human could probably jump even higher. Here is an old NASA film of a jumping human in simulated moon-gravity. NASA’s method (very creative) to simulate moon-gravity is to have the a human suspended mostly horizontal by strings and then move on a mostly vertical surface.

Running on the moon

It’s not really a spoiler, but one of the first scenes in the book Artemis has the main character (Jazz) out on the surface of the moon. For some reason (read the book), she starts running quite fast in her spacesuit. So, what would it be like to run on the moon?

Yes, there exists video of actual astronauts moving in a manner that could be considered “running”—but I still want to model this motion. I previously built a model of a running human and now I can just change some stuff to adapt it for the moon. Here is my previous post on a running human model. Some key points aspect of this model (remember, it’s still just a model).

  • A human is like a ball bouncing along the ground. It consists of two parts: contact with the ground and motion through the air.
  • The part where the human is not in contact with the ground must last a minimum amount of time so that the human can switch feet from front to back.
  • During the contact with the ground, the human can only exert some maximum force.
  • The contact time with the ground decreases with linear running speed.

All of this together means that as the runner moves faster, a greater component of the pushing force must be applied in the vertical direction to get the human off the ground, since the contact time decreases. Eventually, the human reaches some maximum speed where all of the force is used in the vertical direction. You can check out my model running code here.

But what about running on the moon? The big difference is time. Since the gravitational field is small, the human will be in the air for a much larger time with a smaller vertical push force. This means that more of the max force can be used in the horizontal direction to increase the horizontal speed.

OK, but what about a plot? Here is my running model on both the Earth and the moon. I increased the mass of the moon-human to simulate a spacesuit and I also increased the “stride time” the human is off the ground to account for a bulky suit that would require more leg swinging time.

Here is a plot of the velocity as a function of time for these two runners.

The Earth-human gets to a speed of almost 10 m/s, but the moon-human easily can go over 15 m/s. But wait! It’s even better. This is assuming the same kind of running style for both gravitational fields. However, on the moon it’s very possible that there are more efficient running styles that take advantage of the low gravitational field.

It’s probably not very surprising that people have already explored the idea of running in low gravity. Just check out this NASA test using the same “horizontal running” rig as in the jumping video.

[embedded content]

Oh, there’s also this interesting paper looking at theoretical and simulated running speeds on the moon—“The preferred walk to run transition speed in actual lunar gravity”, from the Journal of Experimental Biology. For that study, they put actual humans on treadmills while in a plane flying in parabolic paths to create lower apparent weight. But really, who knows how it will really work until we get serious about being on the moon.

Running and turning

Running in a straight line might be fun for some short amount of time—but if you want to really maneuver around you are going to have to turn at some point. Would turning on the moon be different than on Earth? Of course. Let’s consider a human running in a circle on the surface of the Earth. Here is a top and side view with a force diagram.

The key idea here is that you need a “sideways” force in order to make a turn. The direction of this turning force is towards the center of the circle you are turning in. Also, the magnitude of this force depends on the running speed and the size of the circle in the following manner.

So, faster running speed means a bigger force and a smaller radius (sharper turn) also means a bigger force. The force that pushes the human into a circular path is the frictional force between the feet and the ground. But of course you already know that—if you try taking a turn on low friction ice it doesn’t work so well, does it?

Here’s the last important point—the magnitude of the friction force is proportional to the force with which the ground pushes up on the human. In the case of maximum friction, the magnitude would be:

But what about the moon? What changes? The first thing is the gravitational force. With a lower gravitational force on the moon, there will also be a lower force of the ground pushing up on the human. This of course means that there will be a lower frictional force used for turning. Oh, add to this the fact that the human might be running faster and you get a big turning problem.

So, running on the moon is going to be different than running on the Earth. I’m sort of excited to see what cool tricks we can come up with to move around in this lower gravity environment. Oh, being on the moon would be cool too.


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JapanVoice: Japan Is Opening Its Skies And Business Jet Travel Is Taking Off

Japan is only a few hours’ flight from China, one of the world’s biggest markets, and countless businesspeople shuttle between the two countries. Not all parts of the mainland, however, have easy connections to the archipelago. For instance, flying to Tokyo from Changsha, the capital of Hunan Province, takes at least seven hours with transfers in China or South Korea. But when one smartphone screen manufacturer in Hunan needed to send representatives to Tokyo, it decided to use a business jet for quick, hassle-free travel. The trip took a few hours instead of all day and resulted in two important deals with major Japanese smartphone makers.

Honda Aircraft Company CEO Michimasa Fujino believes local airports can revitalize Japanese industry.JapanVoice

Japan is on the cusp of a revolution in business aviation

As a result of deregulation, flying to and in Japan on business jets is now simple and quick, giving passengers unprecedented flexibility and convenience in their travel plans. It’s the latest piece of an advanced infrastructure, from hyper-modern bullet trains to logistics terminals, that’s designed to make Japan one of the world’s most business-friendly nations.

“Over the past two years, we’ve seen an improving trend in clients going to Japan because of greater flexibility in arrival and departure times,” says Jolie Howard, CEO of TAG Aviation Asia, a Hong Kong-based aircraft charter and management company. “With three days’ notice, they can arrive anytime during the day and park where they want, even at Haneda Airport in Tokyo, whereas before it was limited to late-night and early-morning time slots.”

“Japan has all the ingredients to be the most business jet-friendly place in Asia,” says Jolie Howard, CEO of TAG Aviation Asia.JapanVoice

Part of the Swiss-based TAG Aviation group specializing in long-range business flights, TAG Aviation Asia manages private aircraft travel for clients including high net worth Chinese businesspeople. While many of them travel to Japan for business, pleasure trips to tourism hot spots such as Hokkaido, renowned among skiers and snowboarders for its deep powder snow, are also increasing. Overall, Howard estimates that TAG’s business jet travel to Japan increased about 40 percent in 2016 to 2017, it’s continuing to grow at the same rate in 2018, proving the trend is stable.

“The business jet industry in Asia is only 10 years old and there’s still lots of room to grow,” says Howard. “Japan has all the ingredients to be the most business jet friendly place in Asia, with very good local infrastructure such as trains… It just needs to accept business aviation as part of the economy. The key here is that we are not competing with airlines. Our business is point to point for places not served by airlines. It’s like taxis versus buses – they coexist and there’s no need to take each other over.”

Japan has seen limited growth of its business jet industry, with only about 50 business jets registered in the country. But recent developments in Japan’s public and private sectors are opening up the skies. Under the government’s deregulation policies, in 2010 Haneda Airport launched a dedicated international terminal and, four years later, increased the availability of parking spots for foreign business jets; up to 50 such flights now land in Japan every week. Meanwhile, leading airports across the country are increasing the options for business jet travelers. For example, Kansai International Airport opened its new Premium Gate Tamayura facility for business jets in June 2018. It offers 24-hour service and greater privacy, as well as smoother security, drop-off and pick-up facilities, and CIQ, with applications due by noon the day before landing.

HondaJets, which have class-leading features such as fuel efficiency, are set to go on sale in Japan.JapanVoice

The Japanese aviation industry has also been vitalized by the founding in 2006 of Honda Aircraft Company, whose high-tech HondaJets boast class-leading features such as fuel efficiency. The HondaJet Elite, for instance, has a range of 1,437 nautical miles, putting all of northeast Asia within reach of Shanghai and nearly all of North America within reach of Denver. Honda Aircraft recently announced sales of the HondaJet in Japan as well as a tie-up with ANA Holdings to use HondaJets for feeder and charter flights in Europe and North America.

“A lot of infrastructure and investment has gone into business jets recently in Japan—there are now 84 local airports and these have the potential to change Japanese industry if fully utilized,” says Honda Aircraft Company CEO Michimasa Fujino. “If influential companies and universities set up bases in local areas, it will increase the flow of people and use of the land.”

These developments are boosting business aviation in Japan. The number of business jet international flight departures in Japan rose from 2,918 in 2010 to 5,190 in 2017, up 77.8%, with those from China leaping from 487 in 2010 to 1,045 in 2016.

A typical business jet traveler spends as much as 400 regular travelers

“Wealthy passengers who are flying into Japan for business are now thinking of returning for leisure trips,” says Toshio Kitamura, president and CEO of Japan Aviation Service Co., a Tokyo-based company specializing in ground handling and business flight support.  “They want to go to areas with hot springs or famous food, especially Hokkaido, Kyushu or Okinawa, so these places are seeing big potential in tourism.”

Kitamura estimates that in terms of economic value, a typical business jet traveler could spend as much as 400 regular travelers, which is the equivalent of a jumbo jet. He believes that if the current growth trend in business jets continues, it will enhance travelers’ awareness about regional areas of Japan, which will lead to economic benefits. He says that the key to accelerating business jet use in Japan is to maximize time savings by users with super-efficient facilities. And he agrees with Howard that the mindset in Japan is changing, with more and more executives, celebrities and other VIPs seeing private aircraft as an essential tool for business.

“I think the key message here is to watch this space,” says Howard. “It’s got great potential, and once we see more deregulation and more facilities it’s going to be great for manufacturers, and business suppliers.”

Toshio Kitamura, president and CEO of Japan Aviation Service Co., says high net worth individuals are increasingly using business jets for both business and leisure in Japan.JapanVoice

So if you want to get the most out of your next trip to Japan, consider business aviation. With the speed and convenience of a business jet, you could hold meetings in Tokyo, then fly to Hokkaido for skiing and hot springs before jetting back overseas again. Japan’s growing ranks of business aviation specialists are eagerly awaiting your arrival.