Elon Musk Debuts the Tesla Powerwall
Oce Eeco stashed this in Science Role
I'm surprised about how shy and cute he sounds for someone holding so much hope on his shoulders.
Yeah, he definitely doesn't act like Iron Man's confidence here. He's more awkward. More real.
Yep exactly. He looks like a science nerd who got suddenly skyrocketed to the stage.
I appreciate his authenticity.
1 - The surface in solar panels he said would be enough to power whole Humanity is far too small. According to on of my teacher who's a renown specialist in Planetary Sciences (so most likely more knowledgeable than Musk, and without any financial interests): the minimal surface would be the one of the Sahara. And that's a problem because covering such a surface with a dark absorbing surface would be enough to destabilize the global climate!
Conclusion: solar energy yes, everywhere it works well (between tropics), but that's not enough, we need a mix, a mix of sustainable energy sources.
2 - Same with batteries surface. I'll need at least 3 independent scientific publications in renown science magazines explaining and confirming the calculus to accept that. For now, I don't.
3 - It sounds like a revolution, like Tesla might have found brain new way to make batteries, but actually I haven't heard any explanation about a new way to make batteries (currently is chemicals).
All I understand is that they made it all compact, handy and pretty. Which is awesome of course but not a revolutionary battery system at all. It's kind of like the transition between a heavy desktop with a cathodic screen, to the brain new ultrabooks which can do the same than the old one but with 1/10 of the size.
So to summarize, he announces a lot of extraordinary, very exciting, facts and numbers, but doesn't give any scientific references to support them. Maybe because it's not the goal of this conference, but still, he could give little links at the bottom of the screen.
For now I can only hope they will give some scientific evidence one day; I'll try to stay optimistic and mute the demon in me who would like to say that all of that is just pseudo-scientific commercial hyperbolas made to attract investors to his project.
Yeah, it would be good to see some science backing this.
Still, this seems like a big first step in the right direction.
Here's a big deal, if true.
"Musk said that with 160 million Powerpacks, the entire United States could be transitioned to renewable energy."
Hmmmm, I tend to believe more so in entrepreneurs and innovators that go out and make something work far more than what is written in any science journals with lots of PhD researchers who are more willing to complain why something can't be done, or simply recite the problems with existing knowledge that dictate why nobody will do it. In other words I'll bet anybody that Elon makes solar energy work for the US at much less than the surface area of the Sahara. And it's not because Elon is Elon...
Humanity proceeds with technological progress because people like Elon make things work well in advance of any compelling universally held theories or highly articulate understandings about how they should work.
Innovators have little time to create narratives about new technologies... these responsibilities are left behind to be revised by journalists and college professors who simply don't have the vision or skills of making anything come to life out of the unknown on their own.
And Elon was presenting a new product from an ongoing business to an audience of investors and supporters – not a scientific paper to a conference of eggheads. That's all he's supposed to do and I'm glad he's doing it precisely that way so all of us can understand. (And Elon the Dude keeps open sourcing all patents and science about Tesla technologies to the world so that everyone, including college professors, can use his practical insights to advance our greater good.)
We're all already so much better off that he left university and is out in the real world making shit up we can all use. Tesla, Solar City, SpaceX all make things that make our world better and increase humanity's probabilities of surviving just a little longer... here on Earth and someday, if we're lucky, well beyond.
Don't misunderstand me Rob, I totally support Elon in all of his projects, they all sound awesome.
But, as a young scientist, I'm not a big fan of the tendency Americans have to worship figures, heroes, and lose all their critical thinking. (which often leads to big delusion in the following years)
I prefer my opinions to be constructed.
"Hmmmm, I tend to believe more"
That's the point, I don't believe:
- case 1: there are scientifically proven facts by various independent and international teams who manage to create a consensus in the community --> I can forge my opinion.
- case 2: there are no scientifically proven facts (like in this conference, maybe they're gonna publish papers later) --> I can't forge my opinion, I just don't know, and I wait for more details.
To me it seems that we are in the case 2. It all sounds awesome, but I'm waiting for science papers, patents to be published and obviously the experimentation by all the people who will buy and test the system, to confirm the awesomeness.
I totally agree sometimes innovators have to not wait for scientists and start the thingie by themselves. And I support Musk's efforts on that way. I was just giving a more contrasted point of view on Musk's work than what we usually see on American websites.
"And Elon was presenting a new product from an ongoing business to an audience of investors and supporters – not a scientific paper to a conference of eggheads."
Yep, that's exactly what I said in my first comment this conference was "made to attract investors to his project.".
"Elon the Dude keeps open sourcing all patents and science about Tesla technologies to the world so that everyone, including college professors, can use his practical insights to advance our greater good."
This is great, but let's be honest about that, there's huge economical interest behind that: Tesla wants to create standards, so other companies will create infrastructures by themselves, without any Tesla investment (apart from the initial RD to create the patents), and these infrastructures will be compatible with Tesla's products.
Simple example: infrastructures able to charge Tesla cars. Tesla open sources the charging systems so other companies will create charging places all over America and people will be able to charge their Tesla cars anywhere they go. Owning a Tesla car will appear more convenient than it currently is because of the lack of place to fast-charge them, and at the end Tesla will sell more cars!
It's not charity, it's a Win-Win commercial idea, and it's good, that's what I call positive capitalism, the one that allow progress to be made.
"We're all already so much better off that he left university and is out in the real world making shit up we can all use."
First, he has never really been a university scientist, since he's a teenager, he's been making softwares solutions and have been selling them, like he did with PayPal, the biggest one.
Second, that's quite a common misunderstanding: people think research in fundamental science is useless and will never have any application in what you call the "real world".
This is not only wrong, but also dangerous for future innovation.
Let's take the example of Quantum Physics that appeared at the beginning of the XXth, one of the weirdest field of physics, with completely crazy laws and phenomenon that we can't even understand at a human scale because they disappear.
This crazy stuff certainly have no applications for the society!!!!
Well actually it has, and not just a little:
<<<<<<<<<<<<<< the transistor >>>>>>>>>>>>>>
Transistor theory can be understand thanks to Condensed Matter theory which is one of the many application of Quantum Physics.
Let's make a list of what wouldn't exist without transistors: CPU, CPU, calculators, computers, laptops, smart-phones, modern planes, modern cars (hello Tesla Cars) and any system with embedded electronic calculator inside.
All of these rely on transistors, transistors that will never have been invented without the comprehension of Quantum Physics, or maybe 2 centuries later.
And we could do the same with Electromagnetism, Relativity etc... but that comment is already tl;dr.
Fundamental sciences are fundamental for our future as much as genius inventors like Musk and his teams are.
You raise very good points. I also agree with them. And wish to refine a couple of items you mention:
"First, he has never really been a university scientist, since he's a teenager, he's been making softwares solutions and have been selling them, like he did with PayPal, the biggest one."
Well, first of all, being a scientist (i.e. someone that practices the scientific method) has little to do with the feudal professionalism and elitism of universities – many of the greatest scientists in history were amateurs) and secondly, even to a casual observer, Elon was pretty much on the tenure track to becoming something much more substantial than your average PhD student sucking up to their professors in order to co-author scientific papers:
At age 19, Musk was accepted into Queen's University in Kingston, Ontario for undergraduate study, and in 1992, after spending two years at Queen's University, Musk transferred to the University of Pennsylvania where he eventually received a Bachelor of Science degree in Physics, and a Bachelor of Science degree in Economics from the Wharton School. Musk stayed on a year to finish his second bachelor's degree In 1995, age 24, Musk moved to California to begin a PhD in Applied physics at Stanford, but left the program after two days to pursue his entrepreneurial aspirations in the areas of the Internet, renewable energy and outer space.
Thank god he left Stanford and didn't become another PhD student is my point.
Finally, I simply wanted to raise the point that any public figure in any industry can fall prey to the cult of personality worship. Today it's very easy to just as reflexively impugn people's efforts and successes because of the idiots that worship them as it is for their own absurd personality quirks and foibles. And I don't really care in either regard of who worships Elon or whether or not he eats pineapple habanero tacos. His work results are commendable on all levels, everything else is audience commentary.
There is very little any of us can do with quantum mechanics (yet) that is of practical value to our day to day, coarse realities. This doesn't mean we should stop theorizing and trying to make our understanding of reality better than it is. There should be more funding for free thinking and hypothesizing without commercial application. We also might be better off by not worrying too much about category errors of transposing and cross-pollinating one set of theoretical realities and parameterization in Quantum physics to the yeoman's work of innovative practice under the parameters of Newtonian applied physics.
Elon is not remaking our theoretical understanding of reality – he is remaking our actual day to day reality by making better batteries, making better engines, and making better ways for all of us to capture and use the sun's energy. Not a great deal of revolutionary thinking or theory here, except on the actual doing of it at a level of scale that nobody else before him has been able to accomplish in one industry, let alone three.
And here we find a hell of a lot of improved practices and benefits for many, many people, whether or not scientists agree. Charity be damned – who cares about or needs charity if Adam Smith's original Theory of Moral Sentiments is alive and well in Elon Muck and spreading to others ... yes, this is very good capitalism!
PS Releasing and opensourcing his design of a public transportation Hyperloop for all others to use didn't and is unlikely to bring any of Musk's companies a single dollar in profit margin... and might even erode those margins if more people use public transportation instead of Tesla cars.
"Thank god he left Stanford and didn't become another PhD student"
PhD are not only for fundamental sciences and universities careers.
You can do a PhD in industrial sciences to develop a system for a company.
There are probably people doing PhDs at Tesla and SpaceX.
I wonder who you have met to have such a negatively biased conception of PhDs and university scientists.
"There is very little any of us can do with quantum mechanics (yet) that is of practical value to our day to day, coarse realities."
Have you read the second part of my previous comment?
Or is the whole microelectronic not something you use everyday?
Don't you surf PandaWhale on a computer? If yes, then you're using an application of quantum physics and electromagnetism right now.
"Releasing and opensourcing his design of a public transportation Hyperloop for all others to use didn't and is unlikely to bring any of Musk's companies a single dollar in profit margin... and might even erode those margins if more people use public transportation instead of Tesla cars."
Hyperloop is a very alpha project, they didn't even start to build the first prototype, right?So, I'll see what results it gives before talking about that.
Also, Hyperloops will probably not make Tesla cars sales decrease, the same way current trains and planes (sadly) didn't make the traditional polluting car sales drop.
I simply have an issue with US, formal higher education, not people. People are awesome in general, even when they are doing PhDs. And PhDs are fine. I've worked with PhDs and higher education programs in 100 countries and love the people I've met there. I even like the beautiful lands and buildings that formal institutions of higher learning posses and maintain, like Oxford, where I've presented. We also need much more grant funding in many areas for studying and increasing our theoretical knowledge base and greater understanding of nature and the world in general – in particular I vote for more PhDs studying earthworms and their relevant proxies for understanding continental drift throughout the earth's history.
But what I am I am saying is our higher education system has become meh and could be far better than it is – the system deserves as much criticism as any other cultural artifact that sucks down corporate dollars, sponsors and investors to run programs and survive, if not make a buck. And all that do should be judged by their results, not solely by legacy activities and a fine patina of historical accomplishment and prestige...
Well I'm not from the US so you know that system better than me.
What I see from here is that if you're not rich in the US, you're pretty much screwed.
Or you don't get higher education, don't heal yourself and live in your car, or you do pay for higher education, health and home; and you're in debt for your whole life.
Doesn't sound like the best way to help youth build the future of the USA.
I went back and watched Elon's speech again:
It's pretty clear there's no published research to support the claims.
But he is very good at selling.
By the way, fossil fuels are currently subsidized $10 million a minute according to IMF:
Is that an 8 hour, five working day minute, or every minute 60/24/7/365...?!
My god that's a lot of baksheesh if so! = $36,792,000,000,000... that many trillions?... hmmm...
...must be just the working week = $24,000,000,000 ... billions a year... yeah that's more like it...