March 17th, 2011
05:58 PM ET

Elon Musk on the 3 inventions that will change the world

Elon Musk is a 39-year-old engineer and serial entrepreneur. At 28, he co-founded popular e-payment company Paypal. He then went on to start SpaceX, the first private company to launch a rocket into space, and Tesla Motors, which builds electric cars.

I recently talked to Musk about inventions he thinks will change the world. You can check out the transcript below and watch part of our Skype conversation, which encapsulates Musk’s particular brand of big, big thinking (in particular, why we should expand human life into space).

Amar Bakshi: What three inventions do you foresee changing the world in the years ahead?

Elon Musk: One of the most important things that I think that will be invented this century, hopefully by SpaceX, is the first (1) fully reusable orbital rocket. It’s the fundamental invention necessary for humanity to expand to the stars and to become multiplanetary. (Check out the video above to see why Musk thinks expanding to the stars is important for humanity.)

The cost of fuel is only about 0.2% or 0.3% of the cost of the rocket. In fact, the cost to refuel one of our Falcon 9 rockets is about as much as the cost to refuel a Boeing 747 plane.

However, a 747 can be used tens of thousands of times. And that’s the reason a ticket to London doesn’t cost a half a billion dollars (a 747 is about a quarter-billion dollars, and you would need two of them for a round-trip flight if you didn’t have reusable planes). Now you’re paying a few thousand dollars for the ticket because you can reuse the craft.

(2) Rapid, low-cost, perfect DNA sequencing will have a huge effect on humanity. Human DNA has not yet been completely decoded. The most that anyone has gotten is about 91% or 92%, and that has been with a huge numbers of errors. Trying to read our DNA is like trying to understand software code - with only 90% of the code riddled with errors. It’s very difficult in that case to understand and predict what that software code is going to do.

That’s where things are right now in DNA decoding. There’s a company called Halcyon that’s trying to solve that problem. I’m an investor, and I’m on the Board of Halcyon, but I think if Halcyon succeeds in doing perfect DNA sequencing, it will have a huge impact on humanity.

I should mention another important thing. With DNA, you have to be able to tell which genes are turned on or off. Current DNA sequencing cannot do that. The next generation of DNA sequencing needs to be able to do this. If somebody invents this, then we can start to very precisely identify cures for diseases. It will be a really huge advancement for humanity.

We’ll be able to design treatments specifically for individual people and be able to tell beforehand if certain treatments would result in negative side effects for certain individuals.

There are a lot of people that think (3) viable fusion is not possible. But fusion is the “energy forever” solution. You know all energy in the universe originates with fusion. We get our energy from the sun, so that’s indirect reliance on fusion.

Do I think it will be solved this century? It may not be possible – or at least, not on a commercially viable scale. It’s a very, very difficult technical problem, one of the most difficult technical problems that humanity will ever try to solve. But if we solve it, we will have “energy forever.”

Bakshi: Where do you think these innovations are going to happen? Around the world? Or mostly on the west coast of the U.S.?

Musk: Primarily the west coast of the U.S. It is remarkable how much is invented in California. It’s kind of ridiculous. It’s not necessarily the people who were born in California. It’s just that people come here because this is an environment that is really conducive to invention despite the high taxes and all the constraints that one faces.

I was born in Africa. I came to California because it’s really where new technologies can be brought to fruition, and I don’t see a viable competitor. It’s not to say that California is perfect – far from it. But it’s the least imperfect of any place in the world that I know of for bringing new inventions to mass market.

Silicon Valley has evolved a critical mass of engineers and venture capitalists and all the support structure – the law firms, the real estate, all that – that are all actually geared toward being accepting of startups.

You go to some other part of the world, and you know you can't get a lease because your company hasn’t been around long enough; the law firm won't give you legal advice, nobody will give you funding, you can't find the technical talent you need. But in California, all this has arisen organically.

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Topics: Innovation • Science • Technology • Trends • United States

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soundoff (179 Responses)
  1. Roy

    Hope he's right about such innovations happening in the USA. Especially in California; despite it's flaws (which are many) he's accurate about the infrastructure in the State. Not sure those are the three most likely inventions, though.

    March 18, 2011 at 1:04 am | Reply
    • Jason L.

      They weren't meant to be the three most likely inventions. They were meant to be the three inventions that would most change the world.

      March 20, 2011 at 1:06 pm | Reply
  2. Sam Beal

    I read the book & he founded which competed with and was later acquired by PalPal. but why quibble. Elon is amazing.

    March 18, 2011 at 1:56 am | Reply
  3. Colin

    Two of these things you mention can catch fire and one can be unsequenced by environmental poisons used to control fire therefore the greatest invention is

    March 18, 2011 at 3:21 am | Reply
    • Dbarak

      Spam, don't bother following the link.

      March 20, 2011 at 10:00 am | Reply
  4. G. R.R.

    Actually, Elon, you missed CHEAP Energy STORAGE. That is going to be more important than fusion. My belief is that ultra-caps will push us into electric cars faster than tesla has (which did a nice job on getting other car makers on the band wagon).

    March 18, 2011 at 12:11 pm | Reply
    • Jack Be Humble

      Efficient storage or transmission is unnecessary if the energy production is cheap enough. If we had a device the size of a toaster that could produce 6.27 gigawatts of energy (Mister Fusion: Back to the Future), we could just have these gadgets everywhere and storage/transmission would be irrelevent.

      Super efficient storage would make super efficient energy less necessary; super efficient transmission would also do this... we could have superconductive cables everywhere to move energy without the loss of power from the source.

      March 18, 2011 at 5:47 pm | Reply
      • joe

        Super efficient storage bridges the gap until these toasters are available. If we ever figure out fusion you can bet it won't be on a portable scale; at least for quite some time.

        March 20, 2011 at 1:55 pm |
  5. Nate

    You left out mind-machine interface. The connection of human will directly to the tools it employs, without keyboards, levers, hands etc.

    March 18, 2011 at 12:27 pm | Reply
  6. erich555

    A bark translator, we can finally start to understand our dogs.

    March 18, 2011 at 1:27 pm | Reply
    • Bob

      And then maybe that will get us closer to a machine that can help us to understand women...nah, cant be done.

      March 18, 2011 at 2:38 pm | Reply
      • Rod C. Venger

        With just two words you can be right 99% of the time: "Yes Ma'am." Try it, you'll see. Just watch out for the trick question when your wife realizes you're not even listening anymore: "Do these pants make my butt look big?"

        March 20, 2011 at 12:14 pm |
    • Ed

      Your dog is telling you he's hungry.

      Now get to work on that rocket.

      March 22, 2011 at 8:00 am | Reply
    • spaciman

      Amazingly, this has already been done. Check it out...

      March 22, 2011 at 8:25 am | Reply
  7. thegadfly

    You are all assuming that machines will continue to tolerate humans.

    March 18, 2011 at 1:33 pm | Reply
  8. R C Porter

    Space exploration needs to reach out more to the private sector,NASA every year has to fight the US Gov for survival.

    March 18, 2011 at 2:01 pm | Reply
  9. R C Porter

    What does any of this prattle you people are talking about,have to do with space flight?

    March 18, 2011 at 2:02 pm | Reply
  10. erich555

    Cool, A space orbiter. We can wave at the "nothing" we'll find out there. Or a DNA speed machine, cause sometimes 91% just aint good enough. Can we cut funding to these fkers?

    March 18, 2011 at 2:19 pm | Reply
    • Freeman

      First, read the article. This guy is an entrepreneur. He doesn't get ANY of your money (unless you bought a Tesla, that is.)

      Second, are you serious? We'll find "Nothing" outside of earths atmosphere? You obviously can't comprehend how tiny and insignificant a speck the earth is in comparison to the rest of the universe. You could not even begin to imagine the amount of resources available in our own systems 'backyard'.

      Third, by your undecipherable comment about it, I don't think you have any conception of what DNA sequencing is. He is investing in technology that will eventually be able to find and even cure genetic disorders in the womb. Imagine completely wiping out Cystic fibrosis or Downs syndrome?

      But I am sure YOU know far better than Elon Musk what technologies will most benefit humanity in the future. Why don't you tell us? We're all ears.

      March 18, 2011 at 3:38 pm | Reply
      • Nofanofstupid

        Gol dang! Erich555 done invented a Nascar Race Winner Predictor! Humanityness will never ever be the same again! Praise Jeebus!

        March 19, 2011 at 2:26 am |
      • Seabrooke

        Elon Musk has something lse in mind. But if you think of the phrase "Reading between the line" you'll certainly know his future intentions. To give you an idea, the world is already overpopulated and why do you think this fellow, a genious, wants to invent a vehicle to explore if not to reach the edge of our solar boundaries? a Domino effect of his inventions. perfect mapping of human genum, DNA sequencing leads to accurate identification of the causes of genetic defects which makes near perfect human being, less deaths, slow aging process, and... bingo "immortality". And since the world is over-populated and running out of food, clean water and peaceful environment with less competition, a new place outside our planet is necessary. Most certainly he wouldn't waste his time convincing everyone to but telsa to make money. Profiteers with do that for him. It will certainly come to his favour when moneyed people buy their way to immortality.

        March 20, 2011 at 9:05 am |
      • sgt rev

        Seabrook, are you serious? The earth is not over populated! Have you driven through north dakota or kansas lately, we have plenty of room!

        March 22, 2011 at 7:49 am |
    • HooBoy

      Seriously, Erich, I hope you're 14 years old – otherwise that comment was like making yourself a big "I'm a big idiot" sign and marching around with it.

      March 18, 2011 at 7:26 pm | Reply
    • Jackie Treehorn

      erich555 is one of those guys who would think "what has science ever done for me?" while typing his ignorant comments on a magazine-sized computer and transmitting them to the world over the internet. Wait a internet? Ridiculous idea. Never happen.

      March 18, 2011 at 8:19 pm | Reply
      • Paulf

        What you speak of did not come from science, those are feats of engineering. The first transistor didn't do anything for anyone. It was science! Most likely the three inventions that will most change humanity are the three no one has so much as a clue about today. The three the Bozo in this blog mention are three they're invested in. I was personally less than impressed. "If we knew what it was we were doing, it would not be called research, would it?" –Albert Einstein

        March 22, 2011 at 7:53 am |
    • ddheart

      You should read with attention articles like this or if is to hard to you to understand it find a accurate information before you post something with out knowledge,

      March 20, 2011 at 12:23 pm | Reply
    • cia

      oh shut up punk

      March 21, 2011 at 11:40 pm | Reply
  11. phreedom

    If we can invent a machine that has the capability to actually invent other things, all of our problems would be solved. The only way to do that is to understand only a fraction of part of the brain the size of a chicken mcnugget. Once that's mapped, replicate the process and connect/network many of those chicken mcnuggets together. Then simply sit back and watch them argue over whether or not there is a g-d instead of actually inventing something useful (which in that case shock therapy using a 9 volt battery maybe in order).

    March 18, 2011 at 3:05 pm | Reply
  12. The Inventor

    Here is an invention that will ACTUALLY "change the world". And what's more important is YOU can be part of this! (I know, some people will consider this a "rant", but we have to speak even if one person never heard of this before). We absolutely depend on nature and animals to survive. Pollution, eating species into extinction and massacre of environment happens on global scale: sacred and very needed by life on Earth trees are being massacred by human predator. Gold mining, illegal tree cutting, illegal ranching in Amazon already destroyed a lot of sacred trees. Animals' habitat is disappearing with exponential (unbounded) rate. Films: "AMAZON with Bruce Perry",
    "The End of the Line (2009)". Most vicious predator (human) must learn to stop destroying its own environment. (Aside: the human is most vicious predator because it kills for sports.) While most vicious predator propagates with exponential (unbounded) rate, the nature and animals disappear with exponential
    rate at the hand of most vicious predator. Most vicious predator must stop unbounded (exponential) reproduction: it leaves no space for healthy environment
    for most vicious predator and leaves no space for animals. CONSUMPTION is not "cool" anymore. Echo-systems sustain the economies. Economies do not sustain the echo-systems.
    Bottom-lines and corporations only destroy the nature, environment and animals. In the past, we hoped that our
    technology would help us to live better lives, but as of today, our technology (better traps, binoculars, nets, better sonars to track our prey, better guns, etc) only leads us to the SIXTH EXTINCTION
    of all life on the planet, at the hand of the human. If you cannot farm it – do not kill it. What's still amazing that you still think that some "invention" will "change" your "world": you refuse to see that your "inventions" only make your own life miserable – they allow you to propagate exponentially! Look at India, China, etc.
    If you are religious: "go forth (be fruitful) and multiply" was repealed by Jesus in the new testament just like
    many such Old Testament "orders/commandments" were repealed by him in new testament (eye for an eye, etc).
    Even Jesus showed to you that the truths (commandments) must be changed with changing times.
    So, INVENT yourself: stop multiplying like rats and your "problems" will be "SOLVED" and the "WORLD" will be "changed".

    March 18, 2011 at 3:25 pm | Reply
    • antonio

      Dear "Inventor", as a Brazilian I would like you to remember that, despite all you've heard, read or seen about the Amazon forest, around 80% of Brazil's share of it is still standing healthy. I guess the same happens in other South America's countries that houses that unique bioasset. On the other hand, around 97% or more of the great native American forests have been destroyed by its own people. On this subject, therefore, I think you have one or two thinks to learn from us.

      March 18, 2011 at 7:08 pm | Reply
      • nilas ralph sanders

        hey antonio you are 100% right

        March 21, 2011 at 11:38 pm |
      • Paulf

        Yet strangely there are more trees in the United States today than when the Pilgrims got here. Imagine that!

        March 22, 2011 at 7:58 am |
      • Ted Dubin

        You are mistaken about US forests, just like most in the US are mistake about Brazilian forests. Even in my state of Maryland, the 5th most densely populated state in the US, there are 2.5 million acres of forest (source: US Forest Service).

        March 22, 2011 at 4:07 pm |
    • bringiton

      Dont other countries, esp. the first world countries dont multilpy like rats because they abort them like rats?

      March 19, 2011 at 8:24 am | Reply
    • Jessica

      I'm all for saving the environment. Improving our technology will help us do that, not hinder us. I love camping and being outdoors but I also like my Mac and my Android phone. With better technology I believe one day we will be able to ween ourselves off of oil from the Middle East. How is that hurting the environment? And what about advancements made in computers? That will ween us off of cutting down trees for paper. And I hunt alongside my Dad and Uncle and if it weren't for hunters, think of the OVERpopulation of animals like deer that eat the "food we farm". You have to consider all sides.

      March 19, 2011 at 11:28 am | Reply
    • Common Sense

      Get a grip inventor. All the materials/chemicals that went into your computer you use proves your a hypocrite. Move to the moon into isolation and stop bothering productive live on Earth.

      March 19, 2011 at 1:40 pm | Reply
    • Russell

      Best way to save this planet is to get off it!
      A new life awaits you in the Off-world colonies! A chance to begin again in a golden land of opportunity and adventure!

      March 19, 2011 at 2:43 pm | Reply
      • Nexus

        Roy was Off-world and then came back. He wanted more life. Don't we all?

        March 20, 2011 at 2:52 pm |
    • Star

      Inventor. I disagree with most of what you say. We have plenty resources to feed people. But just to persuade you to think a bit about what you said in your last comment...."stop multiplying like rats" this totally goes against anything and everything the Creation is all"Go ye be fruitful and multiply"....I will make your seed as the sand of the Sea", Almighty said to Abraham, this obviously will happen sometime in the future. The greatest joy (normally) in ones life is when a child is born to them. Everything you see, and don't see, around you is made for you and for humanity. While I agree that we humans should take care of our mother earth better....The Master Mind commanded us to reproduce like rats. If your Parents took your wouldn't have to answer your post now.

      March 21, 2011 at 6:52 am | Reply
      • cia

        you shut up also with the liar book that is mighty weak get a clue there is no god like in your fake book there might be a higher power but it is nothing like in the fake book wrote by crazy old guys who then picked only what they liked to put in it and besides people been around a whole lot longer then the fake book so stop it please get out side or anything but spreading the lies of the fake greedy church who should be paying taxes sigh

        March 21, 2011 at 11:51 pm |
    • Roy Hendricks

      Dear inventor, i agree with some of your points about huntings etc, but i am from Guyana in South America, Brazil's neighbor, which is consider a third world country. All the developed countries,viciously destroyed their forests now condemns us for using ours,,,which is done by the way sustain-ably. We as a third world are bringing up the rear so,we are saving your behind.

      March 22, 2011 at 9:05 am | Reply
  13. jimbo

    I think someone else actually started Tesla Motors and needed capital so Musk wrote a check and didn't like the way the Tesla was being run and he forced the inventor out, that is the true California development plan. Find a great idea and buy it. Maybe that was a good thing but Musk was not the mind behind Tesla just the bucks.

    March 18, 2011 at 3:53 pm | Reply
  14. amarcnn

    Thanks for the comments all. Let me know what innovations you think will change the world (or any inventors/CEOs/etc. you want on the site). I'll try to track them down.

    March 18, 2011 at 4:04 pm | Reply
    • Karina

      Very interesting interview, thank you. I personally would like to know more about information storage and the research/trends in that field. Every day there are millions of pages added to the www, databases are updated with billions of records, personal computers have more and more local files... How we as humanity dealing with ever increasing information backup and archiving, how we determine what is useful and what not for future, if useful how to easily extract and find archives;

      March 19, 2011 at 8:39 am | Reply
      • Paulf

        Didn't you watch WATSON on Jeopardy? Linux is going to save the world!

        March 22, 2011 at 8:03 am |
  15. Bruce

    Perhaps someone can invent world peace and human tolerance; perhaps even a method to solve problems without bloodshed. Then the world would be changed.

    March 18, 2011 at 4:27 pm | Reply
    • Bart Hawkins San Antonio TX

      No chance, is in fact the ABSENCE of competition that is driving humanity to absolute ruin. When 5% of the population must support 95% drones (yes, I am exaggerating, it really is 5% supporting 50%) then the Nation state is doomed to failure. We are inches away from this reality now....and the clock is ticking.

      March 18, 2011 at 7:06 pm | Reply
  16. steveo

    If we want the human race to continue, it is best to execute a plan to continue our perpetuation outside of earth. Many ways have non-zero chance of success, including providing the information for reconstructing or actual instantiation of humans. We will probably never know whether we succeeded.
    Fusion I decided 40 years ago was critical to mans continued survival. Let's hope it is not and don't base plans on it since prospects remain so uncertain.
    There will be countless inventions that are going to change the world. You can read Kaku for one on some possibilities.
    I believe education can be greatly enhanced by games that simulate the real world, such as Immune Attack which is used to teach the immune system. Clearly, education systems need to and will greatly change in all aspects.
    It is good that the internet has come into being as the earth appears to be nearing its capacity to carry human beings. Cultures which have provided peoples with necessary frames of reference and guides for daily living for thousands of years may now be more hindrance than help with the unprecedended and rapidly changing circumstances humanity is now facing. We have largely failed to develop international institutions, economies, and understandings which allow us to better address transnational challenges, but we are getting there, slowly. Whether nature will allow us the time no one knows.

    March 18, 2011 at 4:49 pm | Reply
    • Observer

      that is the end of earthlings and the begining of space creature like area 52

      March 19, 2011 at 12:45 pm | Reply
      • collagekid


        March 19, 2011 at 1:54 pm |
    • ken

      Present human population is already a factor of ten above the long term carrying capacity of the planet. See

      March 19, 2011 at 7:48 pm | Reply
  17. Jeff

    Keep your eyes peeled for a viable fusion technology based on nickel and hydrogen, operating at temperatures below 500C and a few 10s of atmospheres of pressure. A team of Italian scientists has at least twice demonstrated a 10 KW unit that fits on a desktop and does not produce radioactivity or radioactive byproducts. Work is also in progress in the USA and several other countries.

    March 18, 2011 at 5:22 pm | Reply
    • Jackie Treehorn

      I've been reading similar things every year for the last 40 years.

      March 18, 2011 at 8:23 pm | Reply
      • Jeff

        The fusion you refer to attempts to reproduce conditions in the interior of a star, and that is really difficult. The fusion, or more accurately low energy nuclear reactions, I menioned earlier takes place in gas/metal environments and occurs as a consequence of collective quantum effects that effectively overcome the Coulomb barrier. There is a very good website that explains this phenomenon.

        March 18, 2011 at 8:37 pm |
      • Paulf

        Yes but did you see the movie? Mr. Fusion ftw!

        March 22, 2011 at 8:07 am |
    • Pooua

      I have heard of this development, and I watched the YouTube demonstration. I remain highly skeptical that the claims are legitimate. Their work appeared out of nowhere, in the form of advertising a product they are selling. Incidentally, if the reaction does not produce a neutron flux, it isn't fusion. If it does produce a neutron flux, it needs to be shielded. So, the whole thing looks like just another scam.

      March 22, 2011 at 12:04 am | Reply
  18. Bart Hawkins San Antonio TX

    Well.....I enjoyed the article, but believe that "fusion," on this planet is a dream....and is hardly a "perfect energy source." Look, the Sun itself has the thermal output of a manure yourself, on a per-volume basis, produce MANY times more energy than the Sun (or any star for that matter).

    Of course, there ARE a great many cubic inches of Sun, and THAT's why it is so radiative of energy......relatively small thermal fluxes but HUGE volume acting over 15 billion years or so.

    The National Ignition Facility, to succeed, must generate thermal fluxes FAR in excess of the Sun's, and approximately as great as the most energetic sources (pulsars) in the Universe.

    If we solve the myriads of problems associated with fusion – the world will change, THAT I agree with – but the technical barriers to such a solution are NOT merely duplicating Nature – they are exceeding it by dozens to hundreds of orders of magnitude.

    March 18, 2011 at 7:03 pm | Reply
    • JLS639

      Most fusion takes place in the core of the sun.The deeper into the sun you go, the less it looks like a manure pile and the more it looks like a fusion reactor.

      It seems inconceivable to me we will ever be able to duplicate the pressures at the core of the sun that make fusion possible. We will have to find another viable way to create fusion if it is ever to succeed on Earth.

      March 19, 2011 at 11:46 am | Reply
      • Pooua

        FWIW, we *have* duplicated the pressures and temperatures necessary to produce fusion on Earth. That's why the thermonuclear hydrogen bomb works. What we have difficulty doing is controlling a sample that is under these pressures and temperatures.

        March 22, 2011 at 12:07 am |
  19. Sam

    We need batteries that can store 10x the charge for the same size – that will really change both personal computing and transportation. Can you imaging a cell phone you only need to charge once a month or a laptop that only needs to be charged once a week, a portable GPS you can take along on a weeks hike? Electric/Hybrid cars will be the rage and maybe finally we will be energy independent.

    March 18, 2011 at 7:23 pm | Reply
  20. realworld

    Expanding to the stars is only important if we continue destroying and overpopulating the planet we're on.

    March 18, 2011 at 8:25 pm | Reply
    • JLS639

      Or a large meteorite strikes us.

      March 19, 2011 at 11:47 am | Reply
    • JMR

      ...or a major caldera erupts like the one under Yellowstone...
      ...or we fail to control the human instinct to reproduce (y'know, like we're doing right now)...
      ...or a nuclear weapon of sufficient size detonates producing nuclear winter...
      ...or a bio-weapon of the wrong type is accidentally released destroying all but a tiny fraction of the population...
      ...or worldwide economic collapse occurs and we return to a pre-industrial state, wage wars until we destroy ourselves...
      ...or we have a massive crop failure due to any number of reasons...
      ...or we destroy ourselves with some accidental scientific endeavor (like a super-collider going haywire)...
      ...or nanotech gets out of control (think worldwide machine initiated cancer)...
      ...or the Singularity happens and the machines decide we're inefficient and unnecessary...
      ...or nearby hostile aliens decide they like our water...
      ...or a gamma radiation burst from a dying star happens to be pointed our way...
      ...or all this God stuff ends up being true and there actually _IS_ a rapture...
      ...shall I continue???

      The problem with you tree huggers is that you're WAY too simplistic in how you analyze problems. A good quality assurance engineer knows better. How does that proverb from Don Quixote go? "Don't put all your eggs in one basket?" Something like that... Earth is one giant basket right now, and we're only now getting to the point where we realize how very dangerous that is...

      March 22, 2011 at 12:47 am | Reply
  21. Allen N Wollscheidt

    The gentleman is probably right - but I prefer to think in terms of 25 to 30 years - Things that can affect my children - (I will be LONG gone).

    However, few want to think even THAT far out, so I do not think that he will find ANY support at all. Our population no longer has or values IMAGINATION ! ! ! . Too bad ! ! ! . Thank your nearest Conservative for THAT ! ! !

    March 18, 2011 at 9:55 pm | Reply
    • cia

      yeah the nazi party and the lie's they tell eh sad really

      March 21, 2011 at 11:55 pm | Reply
  22. runner920

    Hmmmm...... PayPal, rockets, and electric cars. Is this guy single?

    March 18, 2011 at 10:47 pm | Reply
    • david466


      March 22, 2011 at 2:01 am | Reply
  23. Aarona

    The syndication is near...

    March 18, 2011 at 11:24 pm | Reply
  24. Tim

    My votes would be for biological based computers, DNA Sequencing, the promulgation constitutional governmental models based on rule of law, civil rights, democracy, civil control of military power, and functional political transitions from one elected governing faction to the next elected governing faction, and finally a concerted world wide allocation of resources and interest to prevent, intervene, and treat child abuse.

    March 19, 2011 at 12:00 am | Reply
    • JLS639

      Why do you suppose biological based computers would work better than the ones we have now?

      You need to realize that human and animal brains are actually specialized and really good at a narrow range of tasks. There are reasons engineering and science take massive amounts of paper, computer power, spreadsheets and esoteric equations. Our brains cannot manage much of science and engineering without the help of tools better designed to do those things. We have computers easily doing functions no human brain can manage.

      March 19, 2011 at 11:53 am | Reply
      • Paulf

        Maybe yours can't, or mine either for that matter, but some people could:

        March 22, 2011 at 8:13 am |
  25. Dr Night

    To change the world, first change yourself. Then you may find the world doesn't need as much changing as you think. As far as DNA research is concerned, it may be the answer to many ills. However, we should work on making human beings better before making "better" human beings.

    March 19, 2011 at 12:02 am | Reply
    • Vivienne Chin

      absolutely right.

      March 19, 2011 at 10:38 am | Reply
    • JMR

      How profound, Confucius.

      March 22, 2011 at 12:52 am | Reply
  26. harinder

    It appears people posting comments here have not seen or heard what mother nature has done in Japan. All the advances made by man can and someday will be wiped out by nature. We should learn to live in peace and harmony and enjoy all this while we can

    March 19, 2011 at 12:29 am | Reply
    • thouston

      That is one reason to head for space. Therefore the survival of the human species is not dependent on this planet.

      Also, thousands of lives were SAVED in Japan due to modern engineering and science. They have spent decades learning about earthquakes and making their buildings safer. Despite what you think, mankind can indeed overcome nature.

      March 19, 2011 at 7:13 pm | Reply
  27. jayman419

    What we need right now is a better battery, a break-through in power storage rather than power generation. No machine we make is going to rival the output of the sun. Yet without a means to store more of that energy for a longer period of time and in a smaller space than we can today, we're never going to be able to take advantage of it.

    March 19, 2011 at 4:41 am | Reply
    • Capt Jack

      Fuel Cells

      March 19, 2011 at 2:51 pm | Reply
  28. Albert Person

    He is so far off the mark it is scary. He currently is in the business of making toys for rich people (Tesla), games for rich people (X-Prize), and bioengineering (a ploy for the rich and ultra-elite to mass-extinct the common people. He is simply another capitalist preaching that "everyone can become a billionaire mentality". It will NEVER happen. We need to put money into our environmental infrastructure such as food production, water-purification, etc. Yes, I'm a bee-hugger. Three things that will change the world will be 1) Finally admitting we have overpopulation and how to reduce it without the medical industry's help of killing off people with experimental drugs 2) Preparing for the upcoming water shortage, which will happen if we grow in population at the current rate, 3) Help put the environment back in balance by focusing on the "engine" that has been here all along. He can go live in space. It's pretty cold out there. We were given the Earth to make it better, not destroy it, which is what we are doing.

    March 19, 2011 at 9:04 am | Reply
    • JMR

      Ok, Dr. Rainbow, how precisely do you plan to limit my God given right to reproduce? We've fought horrible wars for far less dramatic affronts than someone trying to dictate someone else's reproductive rights.

      The answer is to leave this rock and get some elbow room. Humanity is a cosmic virus, and the only realistic solution is to find another host... sorry... wish there was a more fairy book ending, but there isn't, and there won't be.

      March 22, 2011 at 12:57 am | Reply
      • Paulf

        We'll get you a ticket out of here just as soon as you belly up the two billion dollars it is going to cost to haul your carcass up out of the gravity well. Oh and when you go it is a shame that there is no place to go to. But good luck! Realistically there is no viable future with human space flight, other than maybe for short trips of amusement.

        March 22, 2011 at 8:24 am |

    Hi Elon,

    If you read this, please take a look at GelCool. It is the opposite of rocket science, the opposite of most of the work you have done so far, because it is a simple idea. But it has the potential to impact so many lives in the areas of hyper and hypo thermia. Your first reaction might be... tiny market, little impact. But the market is in the hundreds of millions as it extends far beyond our initial commercial markets (athletes, hard hat workers, military helmet wearers) into consumer markets: every summer millions and millions of people suffer from the effects of the heat. Check us out – we need someone far more brilliant than ourselves to get involved.

    March 19, 2011 at 10:12 am | Reply
  30. Roberto

    Time for a high tech, non-middle east, non-nuclear, non-global warming, no carbon, non-polluting solution to our energy needs. This Nano Hydrogen gas substitute looks very interesting:

    March 19, 2011 at 10:42 am | Reply
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