Tag Archives: SpaceX

Geeks You Should Know: Elon Musk

empicThis month’s Geek You Should Know is billionaire entrepreneur and engineer Elon Musk. Born in South Africa, he began his career by selling computer code for a video game at age twelve.  By age seventeen he had moved to Canada to pursue a college degree, eventually graduating from the University of Pennsylvania with a degree in economics and physics.  During the Dot Com boom in the mid 1990’s, he founded Zip2, which was later bought for just over $300 million—not bad for a guy in his 20’s. For most people, these accomplishments would be enough, but that same year Musk co-founded X.com, which we all know now as PayPal.  Three years later Musk sold PayPal to Ebay, and moved on to even bigger projects. Lately he has been making waves with both SpaceX and Tesla Motors.

Why We Should Care

This guy is basically Tony Stark without (at least as far as we know) the Iron Man suit.  While he has been fortunate to get involved in tech companies at just the right time, Elon Musk has also made a startling habit of taking on industries dominated by monolithic companies and revolutionizing the business right in front of them.  Before PayPal, banks and credit card companies were the only way to make payments on the internet.  Musk challenged that and forced the industry to play by his rules.  Many of the services that have come about in online banking since 1998 are directly or indirectly a response to PayPal.

Not only is PayPal on their with all the big name credit card companies, but they're name is the biggest. That's impressive.

Not only is PayPal listed with all the big name credit card companies, but their name is the biggest. That’s impressive.

Musk’s current projects are taking on two industries at once:  automotive and aerospace. Currently, wannabe astronauts have to spend years training, studying, hoping and praying that they can get accepted into NASA and get to be part of a mission.  If Musk has his way—and there is every indication that he will—NASA’s monopoly on space travel will quickly become non-existent.  SpaceX has recently announced its desire to construct a permanent space port in southern Texas where they can launch commercial space flights.

As for the auto industry, Musk’s Tesla Motors has been making huge strides in the electric car market. Although Tesla has had a few high profile incidents lately, their cars are miles ahead of the competition. With Musk’s vision leading the company, Tesla is not only looking at the cars themselves, but also at the infrastructure required to make these cars viable while still maintaining their green designs.

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Tesla has also been involved in some legal battles recently due to its business model. Most states have laws requiring that cars be sold from dealers who buy from the manufacturer. Tesla would like to remove the middle man, and sell the cars directly to the general public. This fight has been particularly rough in Texas, which has deeply entrenched laws.  I’m pretty confident that Tesla will win in the end, though it may get messy before it’s all done.

The world needs more people like Elon Musk.  Men and women like him are the kinds that drive industries to do new and different things and that’s why Elon Musk is a Geek You Should Know.

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Filed under Andrew Hales, Geek Life, Geeks You Should Know

Winning Science September 18, 2013

I know we’ve all heard this one before, but Voyager 1 has officially left the solar system, at least until they make another announcement. Launched in 1977, Voyager 1 is the first manmade object to travel beyond the confines of our solar system and into interstellar space. Considering Voyager 1 has taken 36 years to get to where it is, it’s not likely its going to have any company any time soon.

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This thing is getting some great gas mileage.

Keeping with our space theme, we have news from SpaceX. The commercial space flight company is going to be performing a second static test of their Falcon 9 rocket. Due to some anomalies (love that word, especially when it involves space) during the last test, they’ve decided to perform another one. Unfortunately for them the test will be pushed back until the end of the month due to Air Force’s testing of ICBMs.

At least it turned out better than the early days of NASA.

Today is the release of iOS 7, which by the time you are reading this has probably somehow bricked my phone. But for those of you who are not as unlucky as I am, we’ve found a handy little guide to help you prep your phone prior to updating. They provide some common sense kind of stuff like backing up your pictures and videos just in case.

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Well at least my phone will be a very attractive looking brick.

Finally, Popular Science has answered a question that I’ve had since I was a kid; What happens if you put rocket fuel in your car? Turns out, not much. I’m kind of disappointed

It's not nearly as funny as this will end up being.

It’s not nearly as funny as this will end up being.

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