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Elon Musk' s motivation for making billions? To help humans become a multi-planetary species.
Elon Musk publishes a visionary paper on his company's plans to colonize space.
Having previously teased that he'd like to put one million people on Mars, tech billionaire and serial enterpreneur Elon Musk released the specifics of his plan to colonize space. His paper "Making Humans a Multi-Planetary Species" outlines what kind of technology humans will need to make that dream a reality, including how to build a city on Mars, as well as the timeline for this endeavor.
Musk proposes that it's a necessity to make humans a space-faring civilization, citing the inevitable "doomsday event" that will befall us sooner or later. One big goal in making us a "multi-planetary species" would be to create a city on Mars that works not just an outpost but as a self-sustaining settlement that will drive the planet's colonization.
The SpaceX, Neuralink, and Tesla Motors CEO sees Mars as the best destination for such a city because it has conditions better suited for a human colony than other planets - it has atmosphere, it's rich in resources, its day is 24.5 hours, similar to Earth's. In fact, the red planet is so similar to Earth that "if we could warm Mars up, we would once again have a thick atmosphere and liquid oceans," writes Musk.
Here's how Musk compared Earth and Mars head to head:
The big problem in getting people to Mars now? Exorbitant costs of about $10 billion per person, if we were to use traditional "Appolo-style" approaches. Musk wants that number to go down by 5 million percent. If the number is closer to $200,000 per person (a median house price in the U.S.), Mars colonization would become a reality. Musk sees this number dropping even lower eventually, to below $100,000 per person.
How would Musk bridge that gap? Most of the improvement would come from rocket reusability, while other cost savings would lie in figuring out how to refill in orbit and produce propellant on Mars. Choosing the right propellant is also important. Musk says methane would be easier and cheaper to harvest on Mars than, for example, hydrogen.
Getting people to Mars and other planets would be the job of the Interplanetary Transport System, which will feature a booster and a spaceship powered by the Raptor engine, currently in development by SpaceX. It will be 3 times more powerful than the engine currently powering the Falcon 9 rocket from SpaceX.
The booster, which Musk aims to make reusable up to a 1,000 times, would have 42 Raptor engines, making it the most powerful rocket in history. The booster would also be capable of launching 300 metric tons into low Earth orbit. Compare that to NASA's Saturn V moon rocket which could lift 135 metric tons.
Here's how the whole system that SpaceX is looking to implement would operate:
Musk also gives some details on how a trip to Mars aboard one of his ships would look like - a trip he estimates would take about 115 days. It's important to make such a journey "fun and exciting," with zero-gravity games, movies, lecture halls, cabins and a restaurant, Musk writes.
Once we figure out how to get humans to Mars in an efficient and consistent manner, Musk imagines that the colony there would need a million people for a self-sustaining city. To get them there would require 1,000 ships, each carrying 100 people. With travelling to the red planet possible every 26 months thanks to having to wait for favorable alignment with Earth, the whole process of colonizing Mars would take about 40-100 years after the first ship goes, which is currently planned for 2023.
Musk also considers going to other parts of the solar system by envisioning a system of planet or moon hopping. Besides creating and improving spacecraft, the key for further colonization of space would be to establish propellant depots in the asteroid belt or the moons of Jupiter or Saturn. That would enable flights to these and other planets.
How realistic are Musk's plans? The prolific enterpreneur has a proven track record in methodically carrying out his visions. He also sees the colonization of space as such a personal priority that he says he's making money primarily for that purpose:
"I should also add that the main reason I am personally accumulating assets is in order to fund this. I really do not have any other motivation for personally accumulating assets except to be able to make the biggest contribution I can to making life multi-planetary," writes Musk.
Scott Hubbard, the editor-in-chief of New Space, a peer-reviewed space exploration journal that published the paper, thinks Musk's paper is a great jumping-off point for further discussion:
"In my view, publishing this paper provides not only an opportunity for the spacefaring community to read the SpaceX vision in print with all the charts in context, but also serves as a valuable archival reference for future studies and planning. My goal is to make New Space the forum for publication of novel exploration concepts–particularly those that suggest an entrepreneurial path for humans traveling to deep space," said Hubbard.
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Construction of the $500 billion dollar tech city-state of the future is moving ahead.
- The futuristic megacity Neom is being built in Saudi Arabia.
- The city will be fully automated, leading in health, education and quality of life.
- It will feature an artificial moon, cloud seeding, robotic gladiators and flying taxis.
The Red Sea area where Neom will be built:
Saudi Arabia Plans Futuristic City, "Neom" (Full Promotional Video)<span style="display:block;position:relative;padding-top:56.25%;" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="c646d528d230c1bf66c75422bc4ccf6f"><iframe type="lazy-iframe" data-runner-src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/N53DzL3_BHA?rel=0" width="100%" height="auto" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" style="position:absolute;top:0;left:0;width:100%;height:100%;"></iframe></span>
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Frequent shopping for single items adds to our carbon footprint.
- A new study shows e-commerce sites like Amazon leave larger greenhouse gas footprints than retail stores.
- Ordering online from retail stores has an even smaller footprint than going to the store yourself.
- Greening efforts by major e-commerce sites won't curb wasteful consumer habits. Consolidating online orders can make a difference.
A pile of recycled cardboard sits on the ground at Recology's Recycle Central on January 4, 2018 in San Francisco, California.
Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images<p>A large part of the reason is speed. In a competitive market, pure players use the equation, <em>speed + convenience</em>, to drive adoption. This is especially relevant to the "last mile" GHG footprint: the distance between the distribution center and the consumer.</p><p>Interestingly, the smallest GHG footprint occurs when you order directly from a physical store—even smaller than going there yourself. Pure players, such as Amazon, are the greatest offenders. Variables like geographic location matter; the team looked at shopping in the UK, the US, China, and the Netherlands. </p><p>Sadegh Shahmohammadi, a PhD student at the Netherlands' Radboud University and corresponding author of the paper, <a href="https://www.cnn.com/2020/02/26/tech/greenhouse-gas-emissions-retail/index.html" target="_blank">says</a> the above "pattern holds true in countries where people mostly drive. It really depends on the country and consumer behavior there."</p><p>The researchers write that this year-and-a-half long study pushes back on previous research that claims online shopping to be better in terms of GHG footprints.</p><p style="margin-left: 20px;">"They have, however, compared the GHG emissions per shopping event and did not consider the link between the retail channels and the basket size, which leads to a different conclusion than that of the current study."</p><p>Online retail is where convenience trumps environment: people tend to order one item at a time when shopping on pure player sites, whereas they stock up on multiple items when visiting a store. Consumers will sometimes order a number of separate items over the course of a week rather than making one trip to purchase everything they need. </p><p>While greening efforts by online retailers are important, until a shift in consumer attitude changes, the current carbon footprint will be a hard obstacle to overcome. Amazon is trying to have it both ways—carbon-free and convenience addicted—and the math isn't adding up. If you need to order things, do it online, but try to consolidate your purchases as much as possible.</p><p>--</p><p><em>Stay in touch with Derek on <a href="http://www.twitter.com/derekberes" target="_blank">Twitter</a>, <a href="https://www.facebook.com/DerekBeresdotcom" target="_blank">Facebook</a> and <a href="https://derekberes.substack.com/" target="_blank">Substack</a>. His next book is</em> "<em>Hero's Dose: The Case For Psychedelics in Ritual and Therapy."</em></p>
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