Why Elon Musk doesn't like Jeff Bezos's space colonies

Elon Musk took issue with recent ideas for space exploration from Jeff Bezos.

Why Elon Musk doesn't like Jeff Bezos's space colonies

Elon Musk & Jeff Bezos. 2019.

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  • Elon Musk and Jeff Bezos have sparred over space exploration previously.
  • Musk wants to focus on Mars while Bezos has the moon and space colonies as goals.
  • In a recent tweet, Musk called out Bezos's plans for space colonies as unrealistic.

Great rivalries often make for great progress. Thomas Edison competed against Nikola Tesla, bringing electricity to the world. Steve Jobs's on-and-off feud with Bill Gates largely defined the computer age, resulting in rapid innovation. Will the battle of the tech barons Elon Musk and Jeff Bezos come to fuel the space age?

While they have already sparred publicly on previous occasions, the latest salvo between Musk and Bezos stems from different visions for space exploration and settlement. While Bezos is focused on the moon and recently-announced space colonies, Musk has made Mars the main destination for Space X.

Earlier in May 2019, Bezos presented a new lunar lander called Blue Moon. Designed by his rocket company Blue Origin, the lander will be able to delivery a variety of payloads to the moon, aiding in its colonization.

The announcement of the lander also included Bezos's overall vision for the future of humans in space. He sees a trillion people living at different parts of the universe. Where would they live? To a large extent in O'Neill Colonies, thinks Bezos.

Jeff Bezos, owner of Blue Origin, introduces a new lunar landing module called Blue Moon during an event at the Washington Convention Center, May 9, 2019 in Washington, (Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images)

Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images

An O'Neill colony or O'Neill cylinder, is a concept espoused by the American physicist Gerard K. O'Neill in his 1976 book The High Frontier: Human Colonies in Space. Such a cylinder would actually have two five-mile-long counter-rotating cylinders, rotating in opposite directions and cancelling out any gyroscopic effects. This would also result in artificial gravity via the effect of the centrifugal force on the insides of the cylinders.

In the speech that mentioned the colonies, Bezos also indirectly challenged Musk's vision, saying that going to Mars is too distant and problematic to aid in human progress.

Space colony.

Blue Origin.

In a tweet from May 23rd, Elon Musk struck back, attacking Bezos's ideas as unrealistic. "Makes no sense," wrote Musk. "In order to grow the colony, you'd have to transport vast amounts of mass from planets/moons/asteroids. Would be like trying to build the USA in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean."

Which billionaire gets to try out their ideas for building a space colony first remains to be seen. Here's how Musk would settle Mars:

Watch Elon Musk Reveal SpaceX's Most Detailed Plans To Colonize Mars

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Inventions with revolutionary potential made by a mysterious aerospace engineer for the U.S. Navy come to light.

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  • U.S. Navy holds patents for enigmatic inventions by aerospace engineer Dr. Salvatore Pais.
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China's "artificial sun" sets new record for fusion power

China has reached a new record for nuclear fusion at 120 million degrees Celsius.

Credit: STR via Getty Images
Technology & Innovation

This article was originally published on our sister site, Freethink.

China wants to build a mini-star on Earth and house it in a reactor. Many teams across the globe have this same bold goal --- which would create unlimited clean energy via nuclear fusion.

But according to Chinese state media, New Atlas reports, the team at the Experimental Advanced Superconducting Tokamak (EAST) has set a new world record: temperatures of 120 million degrees Celsius for 101 seconds.

Yeah, that's hot. So what? Nuclear fusion reactions require an insane amount of heat and pressure --- a temperature environment similar to the sun, which is approximately 150 million degrees C.

If scientists can essentially build a sun on Earth, they can create endless energy by mimicking how the sun does it.

If scientists can essentially build a sun on Earth, they can create endless energy by mimicking how the sun does it. In nuclear fusion, the extreme heat and pressure create a plasma. Then, within that plasma, two or more hydrogen nuclei crash together, merge into a heavier atom, and release a ton of energy in the process.

Nuclear fusion milestones: The team at EAST built a giant metal torus (similar in shape to a giant donut) with a series of magnetic coils. The coils hold hot plasma where the reactions occur. They've reached many milestones along the way.

According to New Atlas, in 2016, the scientists at EAST could heat hydrogen plasma to roughly 50 million degrees C for 102 seconds. Two years later, they reached 100 million degrees for 10 seconds.

The temperatures are impressive, but the short reaction times, and lack of pressure are another obstacle. Fusion is simple for the sun, because stars are massive and gravity provides even pressure all over the surface. The pressure squeezes hydrogen gas in the sun's core so immensely that several nuclei combine to form one atom, releasing energy.

But on Earth, we have to supply all of the pressure to keep the reaction going, and it has to be perfectly even. It's hard to do this for any length of time, and it uses a ton of energy. So the reactions usually fizzle out in minutes or seconds.

Still, the latest record of 120 million degrees and 101 seconds is one more step toward sustaining longer and hotter reactions.

Why does this matter? No one denies that humankind needs a clean, unlimited source of energy.

We all recognize that oil and gas are limited resources. But even wind and solar power --- renewable energies --- are fundamentally limited. They are dependent upon a breezy day or a cloudless sky, which we can't always count on.

Nuclear fusion is clean, safe, and environmentally sustainable --- its fuel is a nearly limitless resource since it is simply hydrogen (which can be easily made from water).

With each new milestone, we are creeping closer and closer to a breakthrough for unlimited, clean energy.

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