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Choo-Choo On This: The Science of Snowpiercer

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I need somebody to spoil me, tell me information from the book, movie, whatever. This science of this show has me scratching my head.

Here is some of the things I got just from watching the first episode of the TV Series and nothing else. Feel free to fill in my blanks because nothing seems to make any sense.

There are only 3000 people left on earth?

All 3000 are riding on this train.

If there are only 3000 people on Earth, why don't they value life more, why not collect eggs and sperm from everybody in the hopes of repopulating the Earth. Why stop the poor women from having children, I would rather have a bunch of babies than a bunch of people eating everything but are too old to work. 

How does the train get fuel to continue to (go around the world)?

Who maintains the tracks and keeps building from falling on them.

What was the the thing that the people on the train could do that the people stationary of the ground could not do to survive the cold weather.

There appears to be a sideways elevator system under the train to transport people to the different cars, but you have to climb down ladders to get to it and it does not seem very posh. Do the rich people use it to get around or do they limit themselves to only a few cars?

The sideways elevator system under the train moves very fast and the train twists and turns on curves that seems like it would cause all kinds of problems for the elevators.

The train doesn't seem to be very wide, but with the above and below portion of the train seems to be very high. This would create a very unstable train system.

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3 hours ago, AnimeMania said:

I need somebody to spoil me, tell me information from the book, movie, whatever. This science of this show has me scratching my head.

And that was why I felt the movie was stupid. The premise didn't make sense. One thing falling on the track and stopping the train and the movie is done. Since it's common in today's world I don't see it not happening in that world. 

I'll give the show a chance but they better explain the hows and whys better. 

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2 hours ago, meatball77 said:

Why are they in a train?  Why aren't they just in a bunker somewhere.

Y'know, I can hand wave a lot of "science" stuff, but this is a good question. They said they knew the world was about to freeze, why would they think a giant train on an endless loop would be the best idea for civilization? Why not go underground?  

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On 5/18/2020 at 12:33 AM, AnimeMania said:

How does the train get fuel to continue to (go around the world)?


In the opening credits, there are blueprints of the train’s design, one of them is labelled ‘Perpetual Motion Engine’. Which is basically fantasy science (impossible) but that’s why the train doesn’t need to refuel.

 

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Why does the train have to move at all?  It seems like it never stops.  Does it have to keep moving in order to generate power?

Jennifer Connelly said at one point that "I hate this stretch of track" like they have been there so many times over the years.

Who built the track?  If it's called Snowpiercer is it only going to travel in Northern Canada?  Or does it travel throughout the whole world?

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1 hour ago, blackwing said:

Why does the train have to move at all?  It seems like it never stops.  Does it have to keep moving in order to generate power?

Jennifer Connelly said at one point that "I hate this stretch of track" like they have been there so many times over the years.

Who built the track?  If it's called Snowpiercer is it only going to travel in Northern Canada?  Or does it travel throughout the whole world?

I have been studying this since I first asked some of these questions in the thread. The TV show would make a lot more sense if they had given us this information in the first episode. It is a TV Show guaranteed two seasons so it wouldn't have been that hard to include these answers to make the show seem more plausible, they may still do so in future episodes. These answers come from the Graphic Novel and the Movie by way of Google.

1) Why a train? Wilford loved trains and was building a 1001 car self-sustaining train that would travel around the world in one year. The train was just a prototype, to test out the new engine he had just created that could run forever, often thought of on Google as a ‘Perpetual Motion Engine’, others on Google think that is runs on Water/Snow collected from a huge scoop on the front of the train as it plows through the snow. Since the ‘Perpetual Motion Engine’, the train and it's track was built before the environmental disaster and the the Maiden Voyage was scheduled to occur right after the environmental disaster happened, many people who purchased tickets viewed the train as a life raft to ride out the storm until things went back to normal, including many people without tickets who managed to sneak onto the last car(s) of the train.

Here is a picture of the track that the train follows and what day it arrives at those locations (this is based off the Movie)

8lkq7xdhmem01.thumb.jpg.bd81fc420ad632c7c4f35c1e86390c5b.jpg

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2 hours ago, AnimeMania said:

Here is a picture of the track that the train follows and what day it arrives at those locations (this is based off the Movie)

There's a shot of the track in the opening credits. And each run is approx half a year so the train navigates the earth 2ce a year not once as shown in this shot. I'm not sure if the movie details are exactly applicable to the TV show especially

Spoiler

as Wilford is a different character.

 

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Since people were saying there was some information in the opening credits I took another look to see what was there.

The train is 1001 cars long and holds 3000 people.

The current temperature outside was -119.6 degrees Celsius or -183.3 degrees Fahrenheit.

The train travels 2.7 times a years around the globe, requiring 133 days to complete a loop. 

The train is currently in the Canadian Yukon.

The people have been on the Train: 6 years, 9 Months, and 26 days.

Edited by AnimeMania

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Don't know if this is the right topic, but: I've taken some screen-caps from episode #1 intro, looking at the map of the route.

Starting on the West coast, the train travels down through he Isthmus of Panama, makes a loop through South America, and back via the isthmus again. North on the East coast (ish), diverts through the Great Lakes, up through Newfoundland & Labrador, passing West of Greenland. Looks like it crosses over or near the north pole, travels south over Yuzhny Island and into Northern Europe.

SP-map-01S.thumb.jpg.6170f147c5668c309a1451df8e2134c6.jpg

Down through the Iberian Peninsula, over the Straights of Gibraltar, around the West coast of Africa as far as the cape, then Northerly again near the East coast. We have no more route than this.

SP-map-03S.thumb.jpg.f489ce01b66a78da599ca31404da16d8.jpg

However, we can see a number of waypoints on an earlier map, showing a path East, from around Suez, through Iraq, Iran, Afghanistan, down through Malaysia, across the Timor sea into Australia. From there back North through China...

SP-map-02S.thumb.jpg.3567c2ecee3563da54f51d9db702a100.jpg

...and (presumably) across the Bering Straits and back to the starting point on the West coast.

This route differs from the one we saw in the movie, but the essentials are pretty much the same.

Edited by Netfoot
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Seems like the weather would be prefect if Mr. Wilford invented some kind of new high temperature (also known as room temperature) superconductor material. The train could possibly be partially Maglev to explain why it stays on the tracks so well, so fuel efficient, so long, and so low maintenance.

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Hub watched the movie all the way till the end (I didn't), but with the lack of tv production going on, we're giving this a shot.

I think the premier should've been 2 hours if only to dedicate quality time to explaining the science and mechanics behind this non-stop train, but it looks as if they're going to spoon feed us this in dribs and drabs.

One of the things Mr. Ctlady and I were discussing was the lack of any kind of outside noise, movement, vibration, etc in the first class dining car.  We were wondering if those cars were designed to absorb the natural noise and jostling that comes with being on a train and perhaps there's some kind of electro magnetic (trying to convey what hub described) rails on those cars specifically in which they don't actually touch the tracks for a smoother ride.

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It seems like the faster the train moves the more power it generates. The power needed for the head-end power, that is power used by the trains for any other use than propulsion. Okay, increasing the speed means the engine produces more power right? Producing more power means more for the head-end. But why the head-end must depend on propulsion? Why not keep the power generating separate?

And speaking of which, even if they have perpetual engine (itself is a violation of the Second Law of Thermodynamics), why do they bother putting people on a train? Taking risk by the fact that the train is moving through different terrains and exposing itself to different elements. Would it be better if they just build a habitat and let the perpetual engine power it? There will be less complex machinery to deal and better space arrangement.

In addition, outside of science discussion, how does Wilford Corporation does this? First, second, third class passengers pay, fine. But for what? In that post-apocalypse world, what is the value of money? Point is, how do wealthy people maintain their comfort? Do their material possessions still mean something if everything is provided by the train anyway?

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1 hour ago, TV Anonymous said:

And speaking of which, even if they have perpetual engine (itself is a violation of the Second Law of Thermodynamics)...

I am assuming that the term "perpetual engine" is a simplification used for marketing purposes. Seeing as how it isn't possible in reality.

Perhaps the engine derives it's power from crossing the earth's magnetic lines of flux. Perhaps it inhales some sort of fuel (duterium?) from the environment, as it travels, and needs to keep moving so as to find fresh supplies. Either way, it is not functioning in a closed environment, so the conditions for perpetual motion are not met.

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Maybe the passengers paid for something like a cemetery endowment, whatever the actual term is?  All things were taken care of in return for a huge payment up front.  Or maybe there's a term limit, say, 20 years?  The first class passengers being on the average much older, might see that as a benefit as they will likely die before time runs out.  The upfront payments would go toward the construction of the train and the railroad.  Just a thought.  Maybe it will be explained as we go.

 

4 minutes ago, Netfoot said:

I am assuming that the term "perpetual engine" is a simplification used for marketing purposes. Seeing as how it isn't possible in reality.

Perhaps the engine derives it's power from crossing the earth's magnetic lines of flux. Perhaps it inhales some sort of fuel (duterium?) from the environment, as it travels, and needs to keep moving so as to find fresh supplies. Either way, it is not functioning in a closed environment, so the conditions for perpetual motion are not met.

Or maybe it's just powered by industrial strength handwavium...

Edited by Dowel Jones
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59 minutes ago, Netfoot said:

Either way, it is not functioning in a closed environment, so the conditions for perpetual motion are not met.

There are no conditions for perpetual motion. It is thermodynamically impossible. The train is as realistic as the Hogwarts Express.

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8 hours ago, Dowel Jones said:

Or maybe it's just powered by industrial strength handwavium...

There's so much of this required for this show, from the "science" of the train, to why they're on a train, to why money and class are still issues on this train, that I have to put it all aside and watch the show for what it is. And that appears to be a post-apocalyptic, dystopian murder mystery that is also a not-too subtle allegory about class and capitalism. Perfectly diverting during these weird times in which we are currently living. 

7 hours ago, ursula said:

The train is as realistic as the Hogwarts Express.

Hogwarts Express had better food. 

Edited by Superclam · Reason: Threw in some commas to hopefully make more sense.
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A perpetual motion machine is a hypothetical machine that can do work indefinitely without an energy source. So, external provision of an energy source - some sort of fuel, or application of some external force is disallowed. Otherwise a windmill or a Crookes radiometer could be considered perpetual motion, with the external application of wind/light.

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I don't view this show as science fiction, despite the premise. I just see it as a fantastical setting that will allow the creators to explore class struggle in a literal straight line. From the most entitled at the front to the least in the back. It's how they handle that premise that I will judge the show.

4 hours ago, ursula said:

The train is as realistic as the Hogwarts Express.

This is actually an analogy I thinking about with this show. The Harry Potter Universe was essentially based on the Oxford University college system. But it didn't operate like a real college, it was just a stage to examine a magical universe. 

I look at Snowpiercer the same way. Trains are real. This train is decidedly not.

Edited by xaxat
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This is one of those shows where it's best not to think too hard about the science because it doesn't really make sense.  Trying to make it fit and come up for reasons for it is probably part of the fun though.

One reason for why a train? is probably that Mr. Wilford was/is a brilliant but eccentric nutball.

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4 hours ago, rmontro said:

One reason for why a train? is probably that Mr. Wilford was/is a brilliant but eccentric nutball.

I don't know why, but I always thought that the train was something Mr. Wilford was already building as some business venture, something like those world cruises that take most of the year to travel around the world. Then, when everything went to Hades, he adapted it to an updated ark. There wasn't time to build a bunker, so the train had to do. 

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56 minutes ago, Zanne said:

I don't know why, but I always thought that the train was something Mr. Wilford was already building as some business venture, something like those world cruises that take most of the year to travel around the world. Then, when everything went to Hades, he adapted it to an updated ark. There wasn't time to build a bunker, so the train had to do. 

If I'm remembering correctly, in the movie, Wilford saw the whole global disaster coming and built the train.

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1 hour ago, Trini said:

If I'm remembering correctly, in the movie, Wilford saw the whole global disaster coming and built the train.

Maybe he just didn't know how to build a bunker?  

🙂

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11 hours ago, Zanne said:

I don't know why, but I always thought that the train was something Mr. Wilford was already building as some business venture, something like those world cruises that take most of the year to travel around the world. Then, when everything went to Hades, he adapted it to an updated ark. There wasn't time to build a bunker, so the train had to do. 

And I think that is the weak point of this show. We as viewers will accept the premise of the show, if only they let us know why. As such, may situations in the show are not what we think humanity would do in the given situation. Why train? Why not a fix habitat? How the power generation works? Why do they have to circle the world? Those are questions the show needs to answer in the first episode.

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On 5/28/2020 at 7:36 PM, Zanne said:

I don't know why, but I always thought that the train was something Mr. Wilford was already building as some business venture, something like those world cruises that take most of the year to travel around the world. Then, when everything went to Hades, he adapted it to an updated ark. There wasn't time to build a bunker, so the train had to do. 

 

On 5/28/2020 at 8:50 PM, Trini said:

If I'm remembering correctly, in the movie, Wilford saw the whole global disaster coming and built the train.

I have chosen to fanwank this as the train travels all over the world, (thanks to @AnimeMania and @Netfoot for maps!) to be able to determine when/if the weather situation changed. If you're solely in North America, and Africa is where spring gets sprung, what good does it do you? But if you are constantly around and monitoring as much as possible across as many potential places to see when/if the world warms again, you have the greatest chance of spotting signs of the planet warming, which would influence a lot of things. That's my guess--weather monitoring through travel. 

 

 

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18 hours ago, xtwheeler said:

 

I have chosen to fanwank this as the train travels all over the world, (thanks to @AnimeMania and @Netfoot for maps!) to be able to determine when/if the weather situation changed. If you're solely in North America, and Africa is where spring gets sprung, what good does it do you? But if you are constantly around and monitoring as much as possible across as many potential places to see when/if the world warms again, you have the greatest chance of spotting signs of the planet warming, which would influence a lot of things. That's my guess--weather monitoring through travel. 

 

 

That's what I figured, as well. Any sign of thawing needs to be monitored. Maybe when it warmed up just enough, they would start letting people (or forcing non-first class passengers) off the train to attempt to start stationary societies once more.

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Any sign of thawing would stop the train on its tracks, as it would not be able to safely cross any of the oceans it now does.

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4 hours ago, Dowel Jones said:

Any sign of thawing would stop the train on its tracks, as it would not be able to safely cross any of the oceans it now does.

I think they built the train tracks before the weather changed. I don't think that money would matter after the weather changed. I don't think that people could work or would want to work after the weather changed.  The only thing I could think of that would be easier would be getting permission to build the track on all that land through all those different countries (negotiations must have been a nightmare).

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I can hand wave the science of the train, because there’s a futuristic vibe to the show, and who knows where science will advance in the future. 
 

However, humans are still human, and will need sleep, will sicken, and even die. The train cannot run, which is necessary for its three thousand occupants to live, without them, yet there are only three engineers. They work 24/7/365.  One contagious illness and they’re all gone. 
 

There are hundreds, if not thousands, in the night car dedicated to the hedonistic pleasure of first class, yet only two apparent doctors on board.*  Of those two, only one knows about the science of maintaining the people in the drawers, and he’s not an overly healthy looking fellow.  Likely, there are more prostitutes on board than engineers and doctors combined. 

There’s only one teacher, and instead of teaching things like survival, animal husbandry, science, etc., they seem to live in a fairy tale world where they are taught to worship Wilford.  

This whole train was set up to cater to every desire of the top 0.1%, than to ensure the survival of the species.  

*I’ve seen an occasional post referring to Jinju as a doctor, but her wiki says she is a scientist and chef. 

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On 7/9/2020 at 8:04 PM, AryasMum said:

There are hundreds, if not thousands, in the night car dedicated to the hedonistic pleasure of first class, yet only two apparent doctors on board.*  Of those two, only one knows about the science of maintaining the people in the drawers, and he’s not an overly healthy looking fellow.  Likely, there are more prostitutes on board than engineers and doctors combined. 

There’s only one teacher, and instead of teaching things like survival, animal husbandry, science, etc., they seem to live in a fairy tale world where they are taught to worship Wilford. 

What horrifies me about the train's design and set-up is that they don't have any kind of back-up for the animals onboard.

There were 1,001 cars. Why not have the cattle spaced out, so that if there is a breach in one car, there are still enough cattle left to maintain the species? They couldn't squeeze in a second aquarium car?

In The 100, even though it was expected to be at least several generations before Earth was survivable again, the kids on the Ark took Earth Skills as a class. Even if it was expected that the children on Snowpiercer would not live to see the Earth become warm enough to live on, they would still need to learn things like survival, building shelters, agricultural science, animal husbandry, etc, so they could teach future generations.

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