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Japan’s Shinkansen don’t look like your typical train. They’re fast — so fast they coined the term “bullet train” — with long, pointed noses that let them reach speeds of up to 200 miles per hour.

But these Japanese trains didn’t always look like this. Earlier models were rounder and louder; they often suffered from the phenomenon of "tunnel boom," where deafening compressed air would rush out of a tunnel after a train rushed in. A moment of inspiration from engineer and birdwatcher Eiji Nakatsu changed all that.

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