Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Elon To The Future

We all want heroes, but how often can a someone really live up to our standards?  We are used to people in positions of power abusing that privilege, be it in government or business.  But today I want to talk about an extraordinary individual, someone who looked at the situation unfolding in front of us and decided to take matters into his own hands.

As the title probably indicated to you, this man is Elon Musk.  For those who don't know, he began his career by co founding pay pal, which ended up being incredibly lucrative.  But for him that was just the beginning.  After moving on from pay pal (pre Wikileaks shenanigans) he literally invested every penny and more into starting not just one revolutionary company, but three.

He looked hard at the situation and tried to figure out what he could do to most benefit the future of humanity.  The answer ended up being a solar power company (Solar City), an electric car company (Tesla Motors),  and a private space company (Space X).  His goals in each of these areas is far reaching and powerful.

His approach to solar power is revolutionary, instead of having people pay for the panels, instillation is free, that's right FREE, you just pay for the power you use and the rest goes out to the grid.  With this approach, solar is being installed at a rate never before imagined.  His dream is that one day all power will be solar.

To complete his vision of a carbon emission free future, Elon understood that all gasoline cars must be converted into electric, so he founded Tesla Motors, a revolutionary electric car company.  The electric motors his company produced are now being purchased by many mainstream car companies, and Tesla is on target to sweep the market in the next few years.  People are lining up for a chance to own one of these clean futuristic vehicles.

And finally, he made what most consider to be his ultimate gamble, starting a private space company.  This was truly unbroken ground, and this novelty led to some strange situations for Mr. Musk, including traveling to Russia to purchase refurbished ICBM missiles to use as the bodies for his rockets.  To many peoples surprise, Space X became incredibly successful and after almost ten successful launches in a row, is grabbing government contracts left and right.

One of the biggest technological stumbling blocks for any space program is the huge cost of replacing most of the rocket every time you launch, so Space X is working on a reusable rocket.  Check out this awesome video of Space X's Grasshopper taking off, hovering in the atmosphere and then descending again to land vertically on the launch platform.


Now lets hear from Elon himself about why he is doing what he does:

"I think it's very important to have a feedback loop, where you're constantly thinking about what you've done and how you could be doing it better."

"I've actually made a prediction that within 30 years a majority of new cars made in the United States will be electric. And I don't mean hybrid, I mean fully electric."

"Land on Mars, a round-trip ticket - half a million dollars. It can be done."

"I don't create companies for the sake of creating companies, but to get things done."

"I would like to die on Mars. Just not on impact."

"I think life on Earth must be about more than just solving problems... It's got to be something inspiring, even if it is vicarious."

Of course it takes will take more than just one person to turn our Earthship in the right direction, but don't doubt the power of a single individual to inspire others around the world.  As the dangers of global warming, overpopulation and environmental destruction loom, all of us must confront these problems head on, even in the smallest ways in our personal lives.  We also have great opportunity to spread the word about the dangers humanity now faces as well as the solutions that could save us all.

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