First Click: Elon Musk, rockstar savior

May 1st, 2015


The US has known its fair share of inventors who’ve helped reimagine the modern world. Alexander Graham Bell, Thomas Edison, Edwin Land, Henry Ford, and Nikola Tesla are some of the biggies. Steve Jobs’ name appears on 460 Apple patents in the US Patent and Trademark database while Steve Wozniak lays claim to just 4, the same number attributed to Elon Musk of Tesla Motors.

With Jobs gone and Woz being Woz, it’s Musk who’s donned the crown of US technology laureate. He’s the one we now look to for a glimpse of the world our children will inhabit. Musk oozes PopSci futurism on stage, surrounded by fans more fanatical than any attending an Apple keynote. Like Jobs, Musk can put entire industries on notice with the mere mention of interest in some nascent technology. Unlike Jobs, Musk is accessible — engaging with his 2 million Twitter followers from behind a profile picture of him stroking a stuffed white cat with a raised pinky to his mouth.

Where Jobs was famous for making transformative products, Musk is hell-bent on the execution of transformative ideas. Through Tesla Energy, Tesla Motors, SolarCity, and his new Gigafactory, he’s systematically addressing two-thirds of the fossil fuel consumption in the US. “Our goal here is to fundamentally change the way the world uses energy,” Musk said today while unveiling turn-key battery solutions for utilities, commercial, and residential use. Yes, Tesla Energy could solve an environmental issue. But it also addresses a national security issue for the US and other countries whose soldiers stand ready to protect fuel interests in foreign lands. And the economics are very close to making sense, especially by the time Musk’s Gigafactory starts spitting out batteries in 2017.

Self-driving supercars? You had me at super.
Robotic “snake” charger? Quit it.
HyperLoop? Shut up!
Vertically landing rockets? Get over here!
Saving the world? Pucker up rocket boy!

It’s a wonderful age we live in when a technologist can simultaneously be a rock star and savior of mankind.

Five stories to start your day

  1. Tesla Energy is Elon Musk's battery system that can power homes, businesses, and the world

    The Powerwall is a home battery system, that comes in a 10 kWh version for $3,500, or a 7 kWh model for $3,000. The unit is about three feet by four feet in size and six inches thick, and comes with integrated heat management and can fit either on the inside or outside of the wall of your home.

  2. Watch Elon Musk announce the Powerwall home battery in the best keynote I've ever seen

    I'm sure many people will disagree — I mean, how can you compete with Steve Jobs introducing the iPhone in 2007 — but ultimately Jobs was selling a better smartphone. Musk is selling a better future.

  3. Up close with Microsoft's HoloLens headset

    Microsoft isn't letting the media take pictures of the HoloLens experience itself, but we just arrived at the company's demo station here at Build and there's a unit under glass. It looks identical to the press photos we've seen before, with a futuristic looking visor and the transparent glass that lets you see your environment while holograms project around you.

  4. Leica has a new $7,450 camera that only shoots in black and white

    The most interesting thing about Leica's M Monochrom camera thus far hasn't been what you can do with it, but what you can't. When Leica introduced it three years ago, some people turned their heads sideways in confusion because it cost $7,950, yet could only shoot in black and white.

  5. This is the last image sent by NASA's Messenger before it crashed into Mercury

    At approximately 3.26PM ET yesterday, NASA's Messenger probe slammed into the planet Mercury at speeds of around 8,750mph or two and half miles per second. This picture is the last image it beamed back to Earth before ending its 10-year mission, four years of which were spent orbiting Mercury, the solar system's smallest planet.

Madman of the day