Neil deGrasse Tyson: Go Elon Musk

November 24, 2018

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23 Responses to “Neil deGrasse Tyson: Go Elon Musk”

  1. Sir Charles Says:

    Sure. Let’s exploit asteroids with their “unlimited” resources, and let’s shoot cars into space. So important. Some future indeed.

    • greenman3610 Says:

      agree too much emphasis on the asteroid resource shit, but pretty sure moving society to solar energy (technical a space resource) is critical

      • dumboldguy Says:

        Not to cut it too finely, but there IS a difference between solar energy as a resource on earth and solar energy as a “space” resource. The “space” variety has been talked about for a long time, but has major issues—-it is about as likely to happen as asteroid mining, so hold on to your Solar Roadway stock.

        https://www.energy.gov/articles/space-based-solar-power

        Sorry to see that NdeGT has joined the Musk Cult, but I guess celebrities have to stick together and scratch each other’s backs. Musk is already giving weight to NdeGT’s “space is our future” BS by building rockets and pushing Mars bullshit. Will we soon hear from Kanye about how wonderful Musk is?

        • Gingerbaker Says:

          The article you link to about space solar, which you characterize as “having major problems” is subtitled:

          “Solar power directly from space may arrive sooner than you think.”

          In it, the author says that:

          “You could say SBSP is a long way off or pie in the sky (puns intended) — and you’d largely correct. But many technologies already exist to make this feasible, and many aren’t far behind. While the Energy Department isn’t currently developing any SBSP technologies specifically, many of the remaining technologies needed for SBSP could be developed independently in the years to come. And while we don’t know the future of power harvested from space, we are excited to see ideas like this take flight (okay last pun, I promise).”

          So, it sounds scientifically feasible and possibly within reach. So does asteroid farming – we have just seen a probe land on an asteroid, and Musk has already demonstrated the real-world utility of rockets which return to the launch pad for re-use.

          The question remains, of course, whether either of these ideas will see the light of day because of political realities. But nothing is accomplished unless first it is envisioned, and work is done to establish feasibility. So dreamers and scientific schemers are important – they are the seeds which offer the possibility of actual blooming. I support that, and am not going to disparage visionary hopes that can benefit mankind simply because of jaded pessimism.

          I think NDT missed the boat a bit on Musk though. What he is accomplishing toward the electrification of the transportation sector is crucially important in the here and now. And I do not buy into the notion that the continued success of Musk and Tesla is not critically important to that transformation. If they fail, any possibility of the electrification of the transportation sector on a timescale that might possibly avert environmental disaster becomes virtually non existent. Much like the vaporware announcements of VW’s electric car program over the past five years.

          • dumboldguy Says:

            In his mindless cognitive bias, GB grasps at any straw, quoting the author as saying “Solar power directly from space may arrive sooner than you think.” WOW! The proper response is to that is “AGW may cause climate tipping points to be reached sooner than we think, causing runaway positive feedback and CAGW. We cannot allow ourselves to be distracted by pie-in-the-sky, wishful thinking, bright-sided BS about things that MAY arrive”.

            We know that GB’s cognitive bias makes it especially hard to deal with science facts and numbers. Too bad—if that were not so maybe he would have focused on these portions of the article rather than the meaningless PR subtitle:

            “Microwave transmitting satellites orbit Earth in geostationary orbit (GEO), about 35,000 km above Earth’s surface. Designs for microwave transmitting satellites are massive, with solar reflectors spanning up to 3 km and weighing over 80,000 metric tons.

            “The estimated cost of launching, assembling and operating a microwave-equipped GEO satellite is in the tens of billions of dollars. It would likely require as many as 40 launches for all necessary materials to reach space. On Earth, the rectenna used for collecting the microwave beam would be anywhere between 3 and 10 km in diameter, a huge area of land, and a challenge to purchase and develop.

            “Laser transmitting satellites, as described by our friends at LLNL, orbit in low Earth orbit. Weighing in in at less than 10 metric tons, this satellite is a fraction of the weight of its microwave counterpart. This design is cheaper too; some predict that a laser-equipped SBSP satellite would cost nearly $500 million to launch and operate.

            “At its smaller size, there is a correspondingly lower capacity of about 1 to 10 megawatts per satellite. Therefore, this satellite would be best as part of a fleet of similar satellites, used together.

            You would think that GB’s obsession with RE would cause the comparative numbers to “pop” in his fevered brain after reading that. For instance, just to round things off, a typical wind turbine generates 2.5 MW and costs $2 million per MW to build. So it would take 4 x $2 million or $8 million to generate 10 MW with wind turbines as compared to $500 million (at a minimum) for a corresponding Laser satellite. The cost figures for the microwave system are jaw-dropping. Do the numbers, GB, and realize that this is so ridiculously expensive that it will NEVER arrive at all, never mind “MAY arrive SOON”.

          • dumboldguy Says:

            OOOOPS—math goof—should read:

            “So it would take 4 x $5 million or $20 million to generate 10 MW with wind turbines”.

          • dumboldguy Says:

            To address some more of GB’s foolishness:

            “So, it sounds scientifically feasible and possibly within reach. So does asteroid farming – we have just seen a probe land on an asteroid”. Again, do the numbers. What is scientifically POSSIBLE is not economically FEASIBLE. It has LITTLE OR NOTHING to do with “political realities” beyond the rich wanting to get richer and not wanting to waste their money.

            And your cute little speech on “disparaging visionary hopes” and “jaded pessimism” is just more “dreaming and scheming” bullshit. Wake TF up!

            I am truly shocked that ANYONE would say “If Musk and Tesla fail, any possibility of the electrification of the transportation sector on a timescale that might possibly avert environmental disaster becomes virtually non existent”. Words fail me (almost)—-all I can do is quote the Dude from The Big Lebowski “Yeah, well, you know, that’s just, like, your opinion, man”. Can you give a reference for ANYONE who agrees with you?

          • Gingerbaker Says:

            “The estimated cost of launching, assembling and operating a microwave-equipped GEO satellite is in the tens of billions of dollars. It would likely require as many as 40 launches for all necessary materials to reach space.

            We would need 14,500 nuclear power plants to power the entire world. They cost about $10 billion dollars a piece.

            That solar project projection you disparage is peanuts compared to your pet technology. Or has my cognitive bias and inability to deal with scientific facts and numbers the problem made 40 a larger number than 14,500?

          • dumboldguy Says:

            There is just no getting past your cognitive bias, is there? Nobody here is talking about nuclear power, so you can put your red herrings and straw men away. SBSP is simply not practical, now or in any foreseeable future. TENS of billions of dollars is best converted to $30 or $40 billion. Considering you don’t have much of a science background, why do you refuse to try to educate yourself?

            Even the quickest search will yield :

            https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Space-based_solar_power

            Look at “drawbacks” and “launch costs”

            And, with your typical eager non-logic, you jump to “14,500 nukes would be needed”. How about we start with just enough nukes to replace all the coal-fired plants? That would give some positive results relatively soon while you moon about pie-in-the-sky bullshit that will never happen.

          • Gingerbaker Says:

            “I am truly shocked that ANYONE would say “If Musk and Tesla fail, any possibility of the electrification of the transportation sector on a timescale that might possibly avert environmental disaster becomes virtually non existent”. Words fail me (almost)—-all I can do is quote the Dude from The Big Lebowski “Yeah, well, you know, that’s just, like, your opinion, man”. Can you give a reference for ANYONE who agrees with you?”

            Truly shocked, shocked I tell you….are you? Perhaps you haven’t noticed, but the major automakers basically didn’t do anything concrete about making EV’s until the Model 3 started shipping and disrupting important segments of the auto market.

            They are still kicking and whining and moaning about it, asking for special treatment for ICE cars. CAFE standards, etc. Half of them still deny the reality that they will have to change. None of them can truthfully be said to fully embrace the future, or they would be stopping the manufacture of ICE vehicles.

            The fact that Tesla is still the most highly shorted company should tell you something. The fact that even today the number of negative articles about the company far exceed the positive, despite its unparalleled success and rosy economic outlook should tell you something as well:

            The actors vested in the fossil fuel industry believe it is still very much in their interest to destroy Musk and Tesla. Now. And tomorrow. Why would that be so if electrification of the transportation sector was inevitable and apace? Answer: It wouldn’t.

            Who joins you in your argument that Tesla is not crucial to the e-car industry? I’ll tell you who – every bad actor publishing a tsunami of negative press about Tesla: The WSJ, Seeking Alpha, Business Insider, Wired, Forbes, The Guardian, Bloomberg, etc.

            If Tesla were to fail, all the western automakers in the world would jump for joy. They would be saving billions of investment, retooling, retraining. Ain’t nobody going to be buying a technology that’s not for sale. What gives me hope is that the Chinese would hold true to their goals. Whether they would be able to export their cars to the west is another kettle of fish.

            I hope you are right and I am wrong about all this. I also think it is a moot point, because Tesla isn’t going to fail any time soon.

          • dumboldguy Says:

            Once again, you have let your blind Musk cultism lead you off into a corner. EV’s will succeed or or not based on far more than whether that narcissistic, egomaniacal attention seeker and his company are there or not. Have you been keeping up with the news? GM is closing five plants and laying off 15,000 workers. Car makers are abandoning sedans and going to big SUV’s and trucks. The TrumpNuts are talking about doing away with the EV subsidy. Autonomous cars are going to take over. Coal burning is not declining and—the best of all—-Musk is talking about going to Mars in 6 or 7 years and expects to DIE there! And you wonder why there is “negative press” about him?

          • Gingerbaker Says:

            ” Considering you don’t have much of a science background, why do you refuse to try to educate yourself?”

            I have a B.S. degree and am published in research pharmacology. So, I do have a bit of a scientific background.

            And, nobody is talking about nuclear power? You do, all the time. You recommend it, so when you object to a blue sky proposal that could power the entire earth with renewable energy because of money, it seems to me fair game to put that into perspective against your recommended tech.

          • dumboldguy Says:

            A B.S. degree and work in research pharmacology should indeed give you more familiarity with science and the way it works, even though that’s a rather narrow “silo” to live in and far removed from the science of climate change. So, why do you continue to ignore facts and rely on belief to support your opinions? Why do you ignore or just seem to miss the things I’ve pointed out to you?

            Yes, nobody is talking about nuclear power on this thread. YOU are the one that brought it up as a “whatabout”, and had to go overboard with the “14,500” irrelevant exaggeration. We’re talking about SBSP here, and since YOU brought up nukes, yes, we could, as I suggested, use a number of them right now while we are waiting for SBSP and Solar Roadway to save us.

            What would be “fair game” would be for you to get away from your emotional cognitive pro and con biases and cheap shots and really start to look at FACTS.

    • smurfix Says:

      When testing a new rocket you gotta shoot *something* into space. Yes, using the Roadster is a bunch of PR, but if it’s exciting enough to convince some kids that space and science is cool and motivates them to get a real education, so much the better.

      SpaceX is driving innovation in rocketry, if not space travel. They’re allowed to have some fun along the way.

    • neilrieck Says:

      Yes, the “space resources” thing always embarrasses me whenever it comes up. Back to Tyson’s thesis, I remember when Apple sued Microsoft because Apple had put a patent on the idea of graphically dragging a file to the waste-basket icon on Apple computers. Microsoft was forced to pay money and rename the Windows waste-basket to Trashcan (it’s now called the recycle bin if you are into minutia). The same thing happened when Apple sued Samsung because Apple had patented answering a phone call by pushing a button. Samsung was forced to pay money and change their answering gesture to swiping from side-to-side. Thank the deity that Apple didn’t build the Apollo Guidance Computer for NASA. Apple would patent all forms of star-based navigation claiming that they used a novel technique not involving a sextant.

      • rhymeswithgoalie Says:

        Most of the “pioneering” Apple mouse and windows design originated at Xerox PARC. I remember being dumbfounded that Apple was suing and winning over originating those features.

    • rhymeswithgoalie Says:

      I’ve read too many future-dystopia novels where corporations fight wars or trash societies based on controlling ownership of asteroids, moons and Mars bases to think of space resources ending wars. On top of that, so many wars are fueled by tribalism, religion and ideology.

  2. indy222 Says:

    Not my favorite post from NDT. He’s a great asset, but yeah – let’s prove we can husband ONE planet before we go “exploiting” others. Leave Mars and the asteroids alone, for Christ sake. Solve renewable energy here, and also solve our dysfunctional genome which has us fighting wars over status, bling, and endless exploitation while you’re at it, Elon.

    • Gingerbaker Says:

      So, having a Mars program means we can not solve AGW with renewable technology? Who knew?

      • dumboldguy Says:

        As Yoda would say, “The cognitive bias is strong in this one”. Did GB even read indy’s comment ( a good one with which I agreed 100%)? If he did, he certainly didn’t understand it, and chose to respond with a Trumpian logic fail using a massive and downright stupid non sequitur rather than real thought.

        What we are all beginning to “know” is that GB is sinking deeper into the Cult of Musk and Let’s Be Distracted From Dealing With AGW By Foolish Space Exploration Scams. Time for an intervention—-GB’s family!—-contact a deprogrammer before GB starts talking about Kool-Aid.

  3. indy222 Says:

    Solar energy is incredibly dilute by the simple geometry of distance and area – NOTHING can be done about that. Besides, if someone is that unconcerned about gobbling up materials to launch them in space, they’re probably OK with covering half the deserts of the world (sorry, desert eco-systems – you’re just LOSERS!) with solar collectors that don’t NEED to be launched. The whole notion of space solar collectors is laughable and ridiculously too expensive to give further mental energy to.
    So far the Garrett Relation (total spending over all integrated past time is directly proportional to current power consumption rates) remains quite well obeyed, and may well remain a thermodynamic law of the human civilization system. A little math on that relation will show that during recessions, our gains in energy efficiency reverse, and backed up by data from past recessions. Basically, we are too saddled with trying to support against decay all of our PAST spending’s accomplishments, to additionally invest in improving energy efficiency. Peter Ward has it right – we are not going to Mars. We’re going to be too busy trying to deal with cascading calamities of humongous expense right here, beginning with our soaring private and public debt servicing, and plunging value of real estate as insurance becomes unavailable or spectacularly unaffordable, and building walls to keep out the populations of the Tropics, who still want to live and not die. How long before Canada builds THEIR wall to keep out the Americans?

  4. Brent Jensen-Schmidt Says:

    Read NdT as saying be new, adventurous, think wishful, different and go for it. He is using Elon the mouth as a known profile and of course pushing some of his favorite barrows. So be aware of getting stuck in ruts. After all, flying, going to the moon and economical solar power were all impossible once. Even silly ‘energy solutions” can be fun as long as one does not invest.

  5. indy222 Says:

    If climate were determined by the NdT’s of the world I’d not be near as worried. It’s not. We all use energy, Climate is determined by the decisions of the collective Earth, and we ~all make our decisions “on the margin”, so the infinitesimal cost to the environment of our personal spending will always remain a microscopic consideration for the large majority of people. THAT’s economics for you. Reality economics, not wishful thinking.

    Sure, there’s some wealthy older people with no debts and who want to see a better world and willing to sacrifice some of their personal wealth to make some difference. Wonderful, and a drop in the bucket of the actual scale of the problem.

    If you want to “think different” and “out of the box”, try digesting these truths and working within them, than simply “think wishful”. Frankly, that’s never worked when the chips are down. It was a hugely different environment that produced the Apollo program, the Wright Brothers. And solar power took a hell of a long time to approach commercial competitiveness with fossil fuels. By meany measures, it’s still not there – not without subsidies, legal help, etc.

    Re-read my point above on the behavior towards energy efficiency of ACTUAL civilization during recessions to learn what happens.

    It’ll take a revolution. A political revolution. And I don’t see the stomach for that among the world’s people. Not the kind of sane, studied, valuable political revolution necessary. A bloody coup leading to an even worse regime in country after country? Yeah, I could believe that more easily. That’s not what we need.


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