Elon Musk is probably best known as the founder and CEO of Tesla, the electric car company. However, he is a controversial figure to many who has turned heads with his sometimes outrageous behavior as well as with his formidable brain. He has also founded or cofounded PayPal, SpaceX, The Boring Company and Neuralink. Unfortunately a lot of people might know him from his recent appearance on the popular podcast The Joe Rogan Experience where the billionaire gives a wide ranging interview while drinking whiskey and smoking marijuana. Love him or hate him, Musk is an interesting person and possibly a master of the Universe.
10. Bored In Los Angeles
Anyone who has experienced the hell of driving in Los Angeles traffic has probably sat in their car day dreaming about ways to get around it. Elon Musk has decided he’s going to go under it. In 2016 the controversial billionaire started The Boring Company. The start up is using the latest technology to dig tunnels underneath L.A.’s congested streets. Musk gave a demonstration of what he had in mind when he had his engineers dig a tunnel under the parking lot at SpaceX. He decided to name the tunnel boring machine (TBM) Godot as a nod to the play Waiting for Godot. He plans to continue to get inspiration for naming his boring machines from authors and characters from literature. The first tunnel is planned to run from Los Angeles International Airport to Westwood with stops at Culver City and Santa Monica in between. Cars in the finished tunnel would travel along an electric sled at speeds up to 120 mph with a drive time of only several minutes. Musk is a very busy man and he has estimated that this tunneling project only consumes about 3% of his valuable time and considers The Boring Company to be only a hobby.
9. House Party
Most of us will never have enough money to buy a mansion in the exclusive Bel Air neighborhood in Los Angeles. Elon Musk isn’t most of us so he bought five mansions in Bel Air and counting. The estimated cost of the collection of properties is more than $70 million. Four of the five houses are situated near one another and this has prompted rumors that the eccentric billionaire plans to combine the properties into some sort of super compound. The fifth purchase was a new construction that never went on the open market and Musk is said to have spent $24 million to get it. This mansion, like the others, sits on large manicured grounds away from prying eyes. The beautiful home is filled with the latest technology and all the luxuries a billionaire could want. One of the houses was owned by the late actor Gene Wilder. Musk decided to turn it into a private school for his five children and the children of some of his friends. It seems like this master of the Universe wants to start his own little community in the hills above Los Angeles. Musk can be unpredictable so it will be interesting to see what he decides on for his next real estate purchase.
8. Not A Flamethrower
You might think Elon Musk’s Boring Company just makes boring machinery that tunnels underground, but you’d be wrong. The company also produces very cool looking propane torches that it calls flamethrowers. At least they were called flamethrowers until various customs agencies around the world refused to handle a product called flamethrower. Musk’s solution was to suggest the name of the torches be changed to “Not a Flamethrower.” He also suggested “Temperature Enhancement Device,” but whatever he calls them a lot of people seem to want one. The Boring Company sold 20,000 of them in five days to people perfectly willing to pay $500 for one. Shortly after they went on sale they started showing up on eBay for several thousand dollars. The torch shoots a flame about ten feet which conveniently keeps it within the product safety laws that regulate these kinds of products. Real flamethrowers can shoot flames 100 feet, but these torches seem dangerous enough to cause some mayhem in the wrong hands.
Space may be the final frontier, but the brain and the mind are still largely uncharted territory. In 2017 Elon Musk invested a lot of money in a biotechnology start up called Neuralink. The company’s stated mission is to develop brain/computer interface technologies to enhance the brain’s performance. This might sound like science fiction, but there is current technology doing this kind of operation for patients with certain neurological disorders such as Parkinson’s Disease. Surgically implanted devices are used to treat the disorders with electrical impulses. Musk envisions the technology eventually progressing to point that people will be able to experience person to person telepathy. many technology experts consider Musk’s plans to be very optimistic, at least in the short term. They also assume that healthy people will be reluctant to submit to dangerous brain surgery in order to implant the devices. With the pace of technological advancements, however, the billionaire’s vision of a “neural lace” that enhances our brain functions could become a reality sooner than we think.
6. The Real Tony Stark?
Scientist, inventor and billionaire Tony Stark and his alter ego Ironman have long been popular in the Marvel comics universe. After Robert Downey Jr. was cast to bring Marvel’s man in the iron mask to the big screen he wondered how to make Stark a character moviegoers would identify with. Stark is brilliant, but eccentric man with a flamboyant streak. These are qualities that make him an interesting character to play and Downey wanted to make sure he got it right. The talented actor decided to meet with Elon Musk, tech billionaire and all around master of the universe. Downey felt he could learn a lot by sitting down with the eccentric CEO. Iron Man director John Favreau was impressed how Downey was able to use Musk, as well as a little bit of Larry Ellison, the CEO of Oracle, to create a flamboyant character that would resonate with fans of the beloved comic book character. Downey’s research obviously paid off handsomely as Stark and Ironman have been going strong since Ironman first hit theaters in 2008.
5. Get Your A** To Mars
Visionaries dream big and billionaire visionaries dream really big. Elon Musk dreams about establishing a human colony on the red planet. Mars has long been a focus of space scientists who want to take the next step and build on the moon landing of the 1960’s and 1970’s. A manned mission to Mars would be a huge undertaking – it’s difficult and expensive enough just to get small unmanned probes to Mars. Robots can only do so much and if people are going to get excited about space again it seems like a manned mission to Mars is just the thing to do it. Elon Musk might just be the man to get it done. The wealthy and eccentric genius might have the vision, money and drive to make it happen. If the feat remains out of reach because of technological limitations Musk’s resources could at least drive the process forward so it can happen some time in the future. His SpaceX company says it plans to rocket its first group of passengers into Mars orbit by 2024 and land colonists on the surface a few years after that. The Musk Foundation, among other things, operates the Musk Mars Desert Observatory to help scientists prepare for the day when astronauts will step onto the ruddy soil and plant a flag.
Elon Musk has founded, cofounded and invested in a lot of companies, but according to Musk himself he is most passionate about SpaceX. Musk is anything, but humble and according to SpaceX.com he has charged his baby with nothing less than revolutionizing space technology “with the ultimate goal of enabling people to live on other planets.” Since 2002 SpaceX has developed the Dragon capsule, a compact spacecraft designed to be rocketed into orbit and deliver passengers and cargo to destinations in orbit such as the International Space Station. The company hopes that with further testing it will soon be cleared to shuttle NASA astronauts to and from the ISS instead of relying on Russian ships. SpaceX also produces rockets like the Falcon 9 is a two stage rocket that thrusts payloads into orbit including the Dragon craft – and yes it was named after the Millennium Falcon from Star Wars. In 2018 the company began using Falcon Heavy, sometimes referred to as theBig F*cking Rocket (BFR) is the most powerful rocket in use and is capable of lifting prodigious payloads into orbit. These accomplishments are impressive, but Musk sees them as incremental steps toward his ultimate goal of sending humans to explore and colonize Mars.
3. The Elon Musk Experience
Elon Musk is an accomplished and famous venture capitalist who is known around the world as a larger than life character known for colorful statements on Twitter. However, his recent appearance on the popular podcast The Joe Rogan Experience may push him into infamous territory. Musk can be seen and heard smoking marijuana and drinking whiskey during a wide ranging interview that lasted for more than two hours. A flame thrower (not a flamethrower) and a Samurai sword were also part of the mix. Strangely however, these items get less attention than Musk’s use of drugs and alcohol. He briefly discussed his Boring Company that is tasked with trying to dig underground roads to relieve traffic congestion in Los Angeles. Musk has admitted that the bureaucracy and red tape endemic to large cities like L.A. is making it very difficult to keep his vision on tack. All of this seems like pretty manly stuff and it was an amazing scoop for Rogan. The reactions on social media ran the whole gambit from inspired to unmitigated disaster. Musk has a bit of a cult following and for them the interview probably solidified his status as something of a legend.
2. Electric Revolution
Tesla, Inc. was founded in 2003 by Martine Eberhard and Marc Tarpenning. Elon Musk joined the company shortly thereafter as the controlling investor. Musk is now the CEO and face of the brand. Tesla produces 3 models of electric cars the S, X and 3. Tesla began selling the Model S sedan in 2012 and the Model X cross-over SUV in 2015. Although the Model 3 endured some serious production delays, Musk has reassured customers and investors that the problems have been largely resolved. The first 30 cars were delivered in the summer of 2017 and has since delivered more than 28,000 units. Musk has announced plans to produce a number of new models including a full-sized SUV, a roadster and a semi truck. To support the growing number of electric plug in cars Tesla is building charging stations around the world called superchargers. A subsidiary of Tesla, SolarCity Corp, is another piece of the energy puzzle selling rooftop solar panels to homeowners. Consumers can also purchase batteries to store the solar energy for later use. Electric cars are still a tiny percentage of the total number of cars sold, but Musk seems committed to using Tesla to challenge the supremacy of the internal combustion engine.
Elon Musk is many things, but one thing he is not is discreet. When SpaceX needed a payload for its Falcon Heavy rocket test Musk offered up his own Tesla Roadster. He put an astronaut mannequin appropriately named “Starman” in the driver’s seat. In February 2018 the unique payload was launched into an orbit complete with David Bowie’s classic song Space Oddity playing. Interested viewers could watch a live stream of the red sports car in orbit. To top it off Musk adjusted the car’s display to read “Don’t Panic” from Douglas Adams’ popular science fiction novel The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. Was Musk inspired by the opening scene from the 1981 animated movie Heavy Metal that shows an astronaut driving a Corvette in space? After a 5 hour trip around our planet a thruster propelled the roadster into an orbit that will eventually take it past Mars. This might all sound a little crazy and it is, but it is vintage Musk. He is not willing to be constrained by conventions or perhaps even good sense, but as a master of the universe he is body pushes against the limits of technological innovation.