July 09, 2015 - 8:25 AM
For light summer reading, I learned about solar power (har, har).
The book is the biography of Elon Musk.
Musk is Bill Gates II or Steve Jobs II, take your pick.
He’s the guy behind the Tesla electric car and the private space company SpaceX. One of the SpaceX rockets crashed recently but Musk is no quitter, totally and compulsive not.
Musk is a bit like Gates. Both are said to be at least a bit autistic, but probably at the savant level. He’s also a bit like Jobs with the nasty streak, although few could be as nasty as Jobs, rest his mean soul.
As you may know, the Tesla is not an oh-so-yesterday hybrid like the Prius. It’s totally electric.
It shocked the motor world in 2013 when rated by Motor Trend as not just the best electric car in the world, but the best car, period.
The headline said: “Proof positive that America can still make great things.”
The Tesla is made in U.S. and has brought thousands of jobs back from offshore countries.
Batteries are getting lighter and more efficient.
Motor Trend’s tested Tesla can go 350 km on a charge.
It’s also roller coaster fast.
A 2015 Tesla.
Image Credit: Photo courtesy Tesla Motors.
The quickest Tesla can go from zero to 100 km/h in 3.2 seconds. That’s at least two times faster than the car you’re probably driving.
The first Teslas were luxury vehicles and might cost as much as $150,000 Cdn.
Tesla is doing it in the same pattern as computers that started out being sold mostly to the rich. The price then, of course, came down for the masses.
The next Tesla will cost about $43,000 Cdn.
People who buy a Tesla can recharge for free at one of the solar-powered stations the company is building. It takes 20 minutes, or eventually a robot under the car will take the drained battery out and put in a recharged one in a couple of minutes for the price of a gas fill-up.
The marketing line is: You can have free or fast, your choice.
Electric cars sound great but where is all the electricity needed if everyone buys one?
Not wind, that’s a loser.
Much of the answer will be relatively clean liquid natural gas power plants, (thank you, fracking).
But for Musk, it’s the sun.
The same old sun. Heard it before. But consider this:
The amount of sun that hits the earth in a day could, if entirely harnessed, power the planet for a year.
That’s an astounding statistic but also, in a practical sense, there are obviously a lot devils in the details.
SpaceX wants to put solar panels in space where there would be sun rays, 24/7. Then you just microwave the juice back to earth. Just like that.
Solar panels are also getting more efficient. Locally, Okanagan College in Kelowna has built B.C.’s second largest solar panel.
In the U.S., 33 per cent of all new electricity generation is solar. Wow.
Last week, a plane powered by the sun went from Japan to Hawaii. It took five days and couldn’t carry much weight, so not sure about the viability of that approach, although a good start is never bad.
Musk’s idea is power pods that will carry cars on the ground and travel in a hyper loop, which is somewhat like a pneumatic tube that used to send mail around offices. Musk’s pods, solar powered, would travel at 1,000 k/ph.
That’s not a new theory but when Musk says it, I’ll listen.
SpaceX eventually wants to colonize Mars. The obvious question is "why"?
Maybe because Virginia-based Darpa has a plan to transform hostile places into human conditions.
That will involve genetically engineering a wide variety of organisms that could eventually make places like Mars suitable for humans
Yes, the awful GMOs! OMG!
Com’on all you eco religionists. Give up on saving the world with organic carrots.
Cast off your dour, money-grubbing false prophets like David Suzuki.
Good science is wonderful and, hot damn, isn’t it exciting?
- Chuck Poulsen can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
News from © InfoTel News Ltd, 2015