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19 February 2017


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alba etie

Elon Musk is an emigre from South Africa. The next technology milestone he and his scientist might well achieve is a recyclable lithium battery that could bring the price point down enough to mass produce affordable electric cars . Then we might be able to really get over our fossil fuel addictions,,,...


They also might want to look into some sort of safe, reliable power generation (fusion reactor, perhaps?)to truly get away from fossil fuels. Then, some sort of infrastructure to carry all that current. And those electric cars? They should have an available option like my electric drill---a convenient two-pack, where one battery in on the charger while the other is out working.


We have had some of these remarkable people in our country. Henry Flagler is one. Sam Hill, of "What in the Sam Hill are you doing?" Is another. Elon Musk just may be the most remarkable of them all.



ex-PFC Chuck

When I was in college the cognoscenti were saying that fusion electrical generation was at least 25 years away. That was over 55 years ago now and they're still saying its decades away.


my vote goes to Andy Grove.


alba etie -

I wish Elon Musk the best for all his pursuits. But the Koch brothers are trying to shut down affordable electric cars. He will have a tough battle fighting their propaganda machine.


Fusion has been touted as "20 years from being a feasible energy source" since at least the 60s.

A better medium term bet is are thorium molten salt fission reactors. They don't get anywhere near the amount of investment they deserve.

The Twisted Genius

These launches and landings are damned impressive. It's going to be interesting to see what technology he comes up with for his Mars shot.

My younger son test drove a Tesla Model S a few days ago. They were set up in Richmond's Shockoe Bottom and were offering rides to all comers. He liked it. He's also watching those Tesla whole house batteries. In time those batteries and solar panels will end up breaking the stranglehold of the big power utilities. The Republicans will fight it in favor of big oil and gas, but renewables are inevitable.


I just can't help it. Seeing that first stage return and nail the landing is just thrilling. We need to go back to the Moon. Just to point out we are still number one. OK, so I'm nationalistic. So be it.

alba etie

Sidebar discussion but the Koch Brothers generously funded Oklahoma State Attorney General Tom Pruitt's election campaign , and in return AG Pruitt sued the EPA continuously on behalf of Koch Industries . AG Pruitt is now the Trump EPA Director . (SIGH BIGLY ) ...


alba etie -

What is your opinion on Musk's 600-mph hyperloop transport system? I understand they have raised $160M for a test track.


I agree with the above comments about fusion. I was using it in the generic sense to make the point that we currently use a lot of fossil fuel to generate electricity. Sadly, in my experience most folks have never even heard of molten salt fission.


Safe & reliable sounds like solar. Musk is very big in that.

Sam Peralta


Solar cost curve is amazing. Its gone from tens of dollars per watt to 50 cents a watt. And will likely head lower. PV is just sand after all.

The issue with renewables remains base load and storage. Battery technology has not kept up as the essential chemistry has not changed much.

What about the disposal of all those batteries? That seems to be discounted by the greenwashing of electric vehicles.

There's a lot of discussion in hedge fund circles that oil has a price ceiling and consequently OPEC is dead. Every time oil hits $70/barrel shale producers in the US can turn on the tap. There is some credence to the impacts it will have to ME oil producers like Saudi Arabia & Iran. The Saudi's have been floating tens of billions in bonds recently to make up for the shortfall. What happens to ME in 10-20 years as the oil intensity of the world economy continues to decline on the current downward trajectory?


OT Have you seen the BBC's Quentin Sommerville's reports from south of Mosul?

He's embedded with a unit of the Iraqi Federal Police that is advancing towards the airport. They didn't seem to be very well equipped - very few real APCs, mostly 4X4s with improvised armour; no TOWs or Kornets, they were using recoiless rifles to stop SVBIEDs; few trooos wearing helmets, fewer still with body armour.

One reason IS emerged in Iraq was the failure of millitary spending to translate into properly manned and well equipped military units.
It doesn't look like they have solved that issue yet. Or perhaps this "police" unit is a poor relation.


That is in part due to the narrow R&D focus on fusion science vs. commercialization. MIT's fusion team could potentially develop a prototype commercial fusion reactor - but are at risk of loosing their DOE support because they are shifting from 100% pure research to practical engineering work. US fusion research was restricted to "science" in 1986. The MIT team has been integrating the potential to use new materials like superconducting tape magnets and new fabrication capabilities like using 3D printing to produce magnet cores that otherwise an't be fabricated - with a focus on the engineering necessary to develop an affordable working prototype.

There are also several companies (mostly small start-ups) working on "innovative fusion concepts" that typically still face some serious science challenges, but that if they can successfully address these challenges could be quite economically competitive. Tow examples are TriAlpha Energy (which has raised $500 million of private capital) and General Fusion (supported by Jeff Bezos).

All of these fusion technologies have a relative advantage over advanced fission technologies as they have a much less challenging (and MUCH quicker and cheaper) licensing path.

English Outsider

The space exploits are impressive but I could do with something a bit closer to the ground. Regenerative breaking, auxiliary multi-fuel steam generating unit (automatic feed for the wood, I'm picky like that), don't worry about the AC, it always packs up after a couple of decades anyway, optional spud wheels, PTO - Don't go away, Mr Musk, I've just got started ...

They used to plough with Model T's, and with the early model Land Rovers. Not too much to ask, is it?

alba etie


I support the hyper loop technology initiative under Mr Musk ,I believe Col Lang is right when he says perhaps California should have Musk design their high speed electric train . But by no means am I expert on any of this new technology - but it was pretty cool to see the Space X success.

Clonal Antibody

Also this came out today - One huge step: Trump’s plans to privatize ‘low Earth orbit’ and send NASA into deep space

In perhaps the most poetic passage from his inaugural address, President Trump said, “We stand at the birth of a new millennium, ready to unlock the mysteries of space.” So, how does Trump intend to do that?

Former Congressman Robert Walker, R-Pa., who was tapped to draft Trump’s space policy during the campaign, spoke to Yahoo News about the administration’s plan to place “low Earth orbit” missions predominantly in the hands of the private sector, with exceptions for military and intelligence satellites. The government would not compete with commercial interests in this region of space; instead, NASA would concentrate on deep-space exploration with the long-term goal of having humans explore the entire solar system by the 22nd century.


Fyi on Feb 15th, India had great success in the sattlelite launch department, with a world record number of payloads with loads of sensors on board. On board camera shots w narration are good too:



I think success like this is going to put a big dent in NASA's budget. I wonder how many of his people are being snapped up by Lockheed and Boeing?


Musk is a good businessman with some technological foresight. He runs a profitable company.
But lets keep in mind:
- The technology he uses was originally developed by the taxpayer (NASA).
- The launch orders he gets for his company are mostly from the taxpayer.
- The people that work for him were trained on the taxpayers' dimes.
- His companies seem to get subsidized by taxpayers wherever he moves them.
- He was/is a large donor to the relevant politicians of his business, especially the Obama administration.

One wonders how much personal taxes Musk pays? Given his political connections my bet is zero.



Where on earth do you find new and grans enterprise that does not begin with government subsidies? pl


The reason why people don't hear about molten salt fission is because if you explain how it works people get serious doubt about the 100% (not 99.99999%) security of a nuclear plant. People simply don't have experience about salt so hot that it melts.

alba etie

And the new Space X site down in South Texas will pave over one of my favorite fishing spots at the mouth of the Rio Grande - we caught a bunch of fish at Boca Chica growing up ...

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