Check out the February Popular Science for my cover story on a European concept for a hypersonic (that is, faster than five times the speed of sound) airliner.

If you’re like me and live in a town that doesn’t carry PopSci in any of its stores (gripe, grumble), you can also click over to the website and read the full story there.

Interestingly, even though the editors specifically wanted me to pitch the airline as the ultimate in environmentally friendly transport, the A2’s designers don’t see it that way at all.

Yes, the jet runs on hydrogen, giving it an environmentally benign water-vapor exhaust, but the A2’s chief designer, Richard Varvill of UK-based Reaction Engines, is quick to point out that there is presently no economically viable means of producing that hydrogen without releasing greenhouse gases.

This tendency toward optimism is something I really like about Popular Science. To be sure, many of our problems here on Earth are of our own creation, but, says the magazine each month, we’re also smart enough to develop the means of our own salvation.