Here is an idea for @elonmusk and three of his companies. Create a hybrid of the launch power of the Tesla Plaid car, utilizing Hyperloop technology with the Space X Starship rocket. I know what you are thinking. How would you do that? Hear me out and I will explain.
Railgun powered rocket
I realize that this is not a new idea. NASA supposedly has come up with this idea, but Elon owns 3 companies that could combine their skill-sets and pull this off! Basically, you would install a rail, I mean a really long rail, possibly a 2 mile long rail. You would angle it at 30 degrees. Utilize electro-magnetic propulsion to slowly increase the forward motion to a max of 3 g’s. I would imagine that lighting the Raptor engines prior to energizing the rail would be best to be sure that they all fire. Once the rail system energizes, slowly increase the throttle on the Raptor engines so that by the time the Starship hits the end of the rail, it has been released from it’s carriage and has enough velocity to continue it’s flight.
Less LOX, more payload
Utilizing this method, you could put more resources towards payload and less to propellant therefore making a shorter spacecraft due to the propellant/payload ratio being lowered.
It is worth exploring, and who better at utilizing resources that are at hand than the Space X, Hyperloop, Tesla team!
I’ve wanted to drive ever since my dad let me sit on his lap behind the wheel of his 1952 Edsel. The automobile was our passport to get out of the city and discover new lands. Growing up in a relatively small town, the routine sites and sounds got to be rather boring, even for a kid. Owning a car meant you could escape your normal surroundings and explore. Even Chevrolet hired Dinah Shore to sing their jingle, “See the USA in your Chevrolet.” I don’t know about Elon Musk, but my first ride was a go-kart.
My dad built the first hybrid
When I was 5 years of age, my dad bought me a push pedal car. It was a great little car, even though my little legs gave out trying to pedal it through the grass in our small yard. I guess my dad saw me struggling to pedal it and got to thinking.
He had an old self propelled reel style lawn mower that he was tired of sharpening the blades on. The motor on it still worked. What if I could make a go-kart out of the self propelled mower and the pedal cart. My dad didn’t own a lot of tools but he did own a hack saw and bailing wire. With those two things in hand, he sawed the pedal cart in half where the rear wheels were. He then sawed the handles of the self propelled mower off. Taking the two parts, he wired them together to make my first go kart.
Skip ahead 10 years
Skipping ahead 10 years to my teenage years, being able to legally drive a car was still a few years away, not that this kept me from driving! Somehow, I had to find a way to be able to drive. I needed something that I could drive legally. What I needed was a real go-kart. My dad still had that old engine from the reel lawn mower that he had converted into a motorized scooter. All I needed was a go-kart frame. My job at the chicken farm didn’t pay much. At $1 per hour, all I could afford was $25 for an old dilapidated go-kart frame. The right front wheel didn’t touch the ground due to someone running the go-kart into a tree which had bent the frame. The front tire was about 1 inch off the ground, but it was a beauty to me, even painted baby blue.
As if tying a pedal cart and a lawnmower wasn’t bad enough, my dad was able to attach the old mower engine to the back of the go-kart and somehow rigged it up so that I had a real gas pedal and brakes. To me, this wasn’t a Frankenstein, this was a car worthy of the Indy 500. By then, we had moved to the country with gravel roads and a field next to our new home. I sped up and down the gravel roads and in a big loop in the field to head back down the road in front of our house. We lived in a sleepy town, so there really wasn’t any traffic. Everything was great until word got out that Gill owned a go-kart.
A free attraction
A number of the neighbor kids came over and asked if they could ride my go-kart. Hesitantly I let them ride it a few times, but gasoline wasn’t free and this was MY go-kart. After a couple of days, I put that to a stop telling them to go build their own go-kart. My dad got word that I had closed up shop, not allowing other kids to ride it and I was told that I must share and let them have turns.
There, stood a line 4 to 5 kids deep with me maintaining this free attraction and having to give driving instructions to the kids. It wasn’t long before I was out of gas. I told the kids, “Hey, you supply the gas and you can ride.” Amazingly, they all left and none of them returned with gas cans. I guess as long as the ride was free, they didn’t mind riding.
The need for speed
After a couple of weeks, it seemed that my go-kart had gotten slower and slower. In all actuality, it was going the same speed. I was just ready for more speed. Noticing that there was this wire near the carburetor that if I pulled it, the engine revved up like crazy. I wondered why it didn’t sound like that when I use the gas pedal. I found a way to take the throttle cable and attach it to this wire and then to my gas pedal. Now, I was able to increase my speed by almost 33%.
I was zooming up and down the road. This was great! Why didn’t the manufacturer of the motor done that originally? What I didn’t realize was that this was the engine governor. It kept the engine at a normal rpm while the engine was under load. To me, it was free power, to the manufacturer, it was a way to keep the engine from blowing up when not under load.
Back to the drawing board
Now that my engine was an anchor, I was back to the drawing board. I had a go-kart frame that was engineless. I needed to be able to save up enough money to buy another engine, but making only $1 per hour, I couldn’t afford a new engine.
By now I was in high school, still with no drivers license. There was a kid who was a senior that raced go-karts. I found out his name and went and located him during lunch one school day. I explained my dilemma. I’m thinking that he felt sorry for me. He was from a family of mechanics and racing was their middle name. He said that he had a used 2 stroke racing engine that he could part with for $20. I was exuberant. After a couple of weeks, I could afford that. I promised to buy the motor as soon as I could earn the money for it. After a few weeks of working, the day arrived that the transaction would occur. He delivered the engine to my house explaining that a 2 stroke motor required oil to be mixed with the gasoline as well as other tips.
Getting hooked up
My dad was busy with his barbershop quartet singing and didn’t have the time to help me with my go-kart any longer. He told me that this time, it was up to me to get the engine hooked up to the frame. This was when I realized that I would need actual tools. A hammer, screwdriver and a pair of pliers wasn’t going to cut it.
I bought my first set of wrenches and ratchets on sale for $10 and felt like a real mechanic. My dad had a power drill which was needed to drill new holes in the go-kart frame to be able to mount the engine to the rear frame. This I was able to do as well as attach the chain to the sprocket. What I couldn’t figure out was how to connect the throttle control to the gas pedal. Knowing the shortest distance between 2 points was a straight line, a piece of wire from an old picture frame did the trick. I was ready to roll!
Let’s wake up the neighbors
It was Saturday morning. My go-kart was ready. All I needed was 2 cycle oil to mix with the gasoline in the gas can. My buddy had given me a partial bottle of 2 cycle oil when he sold me the motor. I carefully added the correct amount as he had informed me. Pouring that mixture into the small gas tank on the 2 stroke motor and I was just about finished. I pushed the go-kart to the top of the driveway, took the pull rope and gave it a tug. Nothing happened. I gave it a little gas and pulled again. Suddenly the 2 stroke motor sprung to life. It made this loud raspy rat-a-tat sound like a chain saw. I didn’t realize that chain saws also used 2 stroke motors, I just knew that chain saws were loud.
I positioned myself in the metal seat of the go-kart, using an old cushion for a little padding on the metal seat frame. Carefully, I pulled the wire that I had connected to the 2 stroke motor throttle control and the rear wheel of the go-kart spun like crazy. Gravel was spinning high into the air behind the go-kart. I finally pulled it just a wee bit to get it to finally grab the gravel road and head down the lane.
I had only pulled the wire a little bit and I was going faster than the old lawn mower engine at it’s top ungoverned speed. What would happen if I pulled it all the way? With one hand I held the steering wheel, with the other hand I pulled the wire. The go-kart took off. The wind was blowing against my face. Water was starting to stream from the corners of my eyes due to the speed of the go-kart. Three wheels were on the ground with the 4th wheel touching only when I would head around corners. I was in go-kart heaven.
Part of the chain gang
Due to my limited amount of tools and how I had attached the motor to the go-kart, whenever I hit a big pump, the chain would pop off. This would leave the engine revving wildly high with the go-kart slowing to a stop. I limped the go-kart back home to realize that the L bracket that the engine was mounted on wasn’t really strong enough and that this was going to be a regular problem. What was needed was a thick gauge bracket, a welder and more tools than I had. I figured out how to reattach the chain and settled to just live with the chain popping off on every ride.
I was the talk of the neighborhood, but not in a good way. It seems that my early morning weekend drives around the neighborhood was too loud for the neighbors. They complained to my parents that it was bad enough to have to listen to the wind of a chain saw when neighbors would use their chain saw to fell a tree, but to listen to one running up and down the street day in and day out was enough to drive them crazy. The complaint department told me that my go-kart was grounded and my days of running unfettered through the neighborhood was over. I put the go-kart under the front porch where it sat for months and months.
During this time, I had turned 16 and acquired my drivers license. One of my first jobs working at a gas station, I had my eyes on a Chevy Belair Station Wagon which an older fellow employee owned. He saw the stars in my eyes and it didn’t take much for him to convince me to purchase it from him. That was a quick $300 he pocketed.
All good things must come to an end
By now, I had a car, a girlfriend and a job that paid $3.25 per hour. It was time to grow up. After several years, I found someone to take the old go-kart off my hands. He had a son that was around 14 and he wanted to go through this rite of passage as I did. I think I sold it for $25.
I will always remember my old baby blue go-kart. From riding in my dad’s Edsel, riding in a pedal cart/mower hybrid all the way up to my current ride, a Tesla. Hmm, I wonder if Elon Musk ever had a go-kart? For me, the go-kart holds fond memories of learning how to drive the way that most kids do not. I learned a lot of lessons along the way, the most important…….buy a quiet muffler!
Have you ever heard a Tesla Model 3, Model S, or Model X?
This is just an idea for Elon Musk and his Tesla team, but I digress. After 11 months, Tesla finally delivered my Model 3. This is the understudy to the Model S, but it is quick, even with the standard motor. It goes 0-60 in 5.1 seconds. This is the same speed as 1995 Chevrolet Corvette LT1. Not bad for a base Model 3. Being this is my first electric car, I found myself going faster than I should have due to no engine sound.
As I was accelerating with no audible sound at all, I got this idea. Flipping through the 15″ dashboard screen noticing ALL of the controls and settings that are accessed through the screen, I said to myself, “Why not download all of the coolest car engine sounds there are out there, synchronize it with the accelerator pedal and send it through the speaker system?” You would be able to pick your engine sound and volume of course and as you accelerate, you get that familiar sound of the engine, and not just any engine, a Ferrari, Dodge Hemi or any other engine! Can you imagine the first ride of a passenger? You simply turn it on before you leave the parking lot and they think you have some massive engine under the hood. After a few miles, you simply dial down the volume to 0 and they look over at you like, “Hey your engine just died.” All you say is, “Gotcha! This is a Tesla dude!”
I’ve been thinking lately, and that is a dangerous thing! Much of our life is on auto-pilot, much like getting in the shower to shampoo, rinse and repeat; the instructions on the side of our shampoo bottle. In all actuality, I only shampoo my hair once each time I shower, not twice, but alas I regress.
It is so easy to go through life doing the exact same thing we did the day before. I know that I get in a routine. I leave the house each day, vowing to make this day unlike any other day, but when I get to work, I see the exact same visual clues and I settle back into the same actions that I did the day before. Don’t get me wrong, many of these actions have proven very successful, but when the actions that you do are not giving you the intended results, then something has to change.
I believe that the reason that many of us do not veer off of our routine is due to comfort and fear. It is very comfortable to experience the same thing every day, even though it may not be healthy for us. We know the outcome, we don’t have to really put our mind in creative gear, we just put it in drive. Just like going to the gym, our muscles get used to the routine and stop developing. We are told by trainers, you have to switch up your routine or your muscles will not develop as they should. Our minds do the same thing, we stop growing as individuals when we go to that comfortable routine that isn’t delivering results any longer. The other reason I believe is fear. Doing anything new has some level of fear to it. Here I am writing this during my work day. Since I own the company, I should be able to be creative and write to my blog, right, but do I typically? The answer is no. I do not because I fear that if I don’t do the same thing that I did yesterday, my work results would change at the end of the day, and that is very uncomfortable. I can talk all I want about making changes, but do I really do it? Doing the same thing gives you consistent results, even when the results are not what you want, but hey, that are consistent. Doing something different or new makes us venture to that unknown land that takes us out of our comfort zone. God forbid that we might end up with superior results.
The same visual clues can also be a hindrance I believe. These are triggers. They cause us to repeat the same action the last time we were in that place. Why? I believe again it is comfort. Our brain associates an image with an action or thought process. It’s hard to stop thinking or doing something that has been ingrained in us. For instance, when I walk by my computer, instead of thinking of how can I write a really interesting story, I look over my work schedule, look at a profit and loss statement, look at our recent web rankings, look at my budget, check my email and any creative thought that would have been birthed has now vanished. You have to figure out what visual triggers cause you to fall into that trance that steals your life. Don’t get me wrong, many of our visual triggers are good, they get us moving and we get stuff done, but when you wake up with a purpose for the day, promising to brainstorm, don’t let the visual triggers side track you.
Purposeful living is hard. It’s much easier to simply repeat what you did the day before, in the exact same way that you did it yesterday. Also, being creative is hard as well. It’s much easier not to be creative. Creativity takes real effort. I don’t see being creative and routines as going hand in hand unless you call sitting still every day (the routine) to let God drop some really out of this world ideas into your head.
When I was a kid, my teachers used to tell my parents that I sat and daydreamed too much during class. I was guilty of this for sure, but I wasn’t daydreaming about the kind of cereal I ate that morning, I was dreaming of all kinds of inventions like space travel, underground cities and flying cars. I am also off the charts when it comes to dreaming each night. I joke about my multiple dreams per night, saying that I should have popcorn to go along with my dreams since many of them feel like cinematic experiences.
Somehow, the older we get, we seem to stop daydreaming or dreaming in general. We get into a routine that has proven to work for us. It pays the bills, keeps us out of prison and doesn’t cause people to hurl insults at us as we walk down the street. I guess you can say that we start to settle. What if our shampoo bottle said, “Shampoo, rinse, wait a couple of days, rinse, then shampoo and if you feel like it, shampoo some more.” Well, they wouldn’t sell as much shampoo and for those of us that like instructions, we would just melt into total confusion. Shampooing twice in one day does sell more shampoo, but for those of us that shampoo every day, that’s just too much shampoo in one’s life! Back to the analogy. Routines are not all that bad. For instance, I started playing cello two years ago. Unless I set up a routine to practice, I won’t get better. I know that for myself, I also have to set up a time that I practice each day, which for me is around 9PM each night. My teacher gives me different techniques to help me improve. I use these multiple exercises which are all different, yet I use the routine of my practice to perfect these. This “routine” works for me and gives me the desired result that I want in this area of my life. Exercising is another routine that I know is good for me. I need that routine to keep my body in good shape, but even with exercising, I choose different activities to keep my body from getting used to the same motions so that I can get a full workout.
One good routine that I have started to do is to take the first part of the day to write down 10 different ideas. (By the way, this isn’t my original idea, I borrowed this from James Altucher) These 10 ideas are not a to do list or a task list, they are ideas where I let my mind go wild. Some of them are great practical ideas and others are Buck Rogers type ideas. When I write down many of these ideas, I think of how silly they are, but when I go back and read through many of the old ideas, they don’t look so silly. Anyway, who said when we grow up our ideas have to become all serious and boring? I don’t think that Elon Musk starts his day by thinking, “I just need to start thinking of some boring ideas and businesses that nobody will get excited about, but will guarantee that I will make loads of money.” Nah, I think that Elon Musk believes that the future doesn’t have to be as bleak as we are all signing up for. It doesn’t hurt to have investors and the financial backing to make your dreams a reality, but we can all dream. This is the thought behind the movie Tomorrowland, that I wrote about last year. The future can have some golden moments and opportunities if we will start to dream again. We don’t have to stop dreaming just because we are older than the age of 12.
I remember when I finished college. The biggest wake up call was that the summer season would take on a whole new meaning. When you are in school, you have the summers off, for the most part. This was a time of going on vacation with your family or finally inventing that really cool rocket part that you didn’t have time to do during the school year. When you finally finish going to school, every month is like the previous, shampoo, rinse and repeat. Maybe you get a week or two of vacation during the year, but for the most part, it’s groundhog day. My wife and I recently read a book by Bob Goff called Love Does. Bob has these zany stories where he strives to live a life that has a good amount of whimsy in it. He is an attorney, but he does not let his vocation dictate how he lives his life. He allows ideas to pop into his head, then has the bollocks to act on them. Our home group read his book. Most of the people in our home church group are retired. This book really challenged many of them and made us think differently about how we should live each day.
I feel that each day is a gift from God. I don’t know about you, but when I receive a gift, I’m very thankful. I take time to write a thank you note to let the person who gave the gift know how much I appreciated the thought, and for remembering me. My thank you note to God is taking the time each day to allow Him to fill my mind with the vast possibilities of what this world was meant to be and for allowing me to be just a small part of that grand plan. Maybe someone one day will look back on one of my ideas and say, “Wow, that idea was bigger than Gill, he must have had someone help him with that one.” My answer would be, “You’re right, I don’t have that kind of imagination, but let me introduce you to the One whose imagination started this whole planet we live on!”
Walt said “EPCOT will be an experimental prototype community of tomorrow that will take its cue from the new ideas and new technologies that are now emerging from the creative centers of American industry. It will be a community of tomorrow that will never be completed, but will always be introducing and testing and demonstrating new materials and systems. And EPCOT will always be a showcase to the world for the ingenuity and imagination of American free enterprise.”
I’ve wanted to be a part of Walt’s original EPCOT idea since I heard about it. I remember in October of 1966, just 2 months before Walt’s death, Walt airing his whole EPCOT idea. What a concept I thought. I want to be a part of this. In 1966, Nasa was in the midst of the Apollo program, eventually headed to the moon. Walt wanted to play a part in it, if nothing else, to get people excited through his animation team explaining the dream to America. What Walt really wanted was to see what the brightest minds of our country could come up with. Walt saw the advances that science was making. As scientists, first there has to be an idea, an aha moment, then the testing of the hypothesis, and finally the creation. EPCOT was going to try and bring together the brightest minds as well as those with incredible imagination. Brad Bird, the director of ‘Tomorrowland’, the Disney movie about a boy that invented a rocket pack that ended up in a sort of EPCOT, was a tribute to the original EPCOT idea.
Fast forward 50 years to today. With Elon Musk’s ‘The Boring Company’, he could actually use this company to accomplish the underground roads that Walt’s crew conceived to keep traffic out of the city. Elon seems to be echoing many of the thoughts that Walt had, creating underground tunnels to mitigate traffic in high congestion areas, primarily in EPCOT. Musk’s new company hopes to increase the speed of these tunnel boring machines 10 fold to reduce the cost of the whole tunnel boring process.
Walt also saw the direction that our cities were headed and wanted to build a city that showed what was possible, for those that wanted something different, something that was forward thinking. Elon has also said that he wants to do something to stop our dependence on fossil fuels, thus helping with climate change. This is forward thinking, not just thinking about the present, but to the future.
It’s obvious that Hyperloop, one of Elon’s other projects could also be integral to a modern day EPCOT. It would be Walt’s version of the WED PeopleMover on steroids. I actually had this idea when I worked at a fossil fuel testing facility 30 years ago. I’m glad that Elon is pulling this off. We can use low pressure air to move pods, much like the drive through bank teller pods that you put your money in to make a deposit. This would be a great way to get people in the city to the place they need to go.
Creating EPCOT would be a small scale prototype city, one that if it works on a small scale could be applied to larger cities. If the main purpose of this new EPCOT would is to be an incubator of ideas, it would hopefully spurn other cities to follow this lead. Instead of declining cities and wringing our hands about the future, it would put a more hopeful slant on our existence, being excited about what would be thought of next. Heck, EPCOT could stand for Elon’s Prototype Community of Tomorrow.
I realize that I’m not the first person to make this connection, but maybe if enough of us keep planting this bug in Elon Musk’s team, they may realize that there is some merit to it.
I’ve often thought that maybe there would be enough people out there who wanted to see this become a reality and to put together a ‘Go Fund Me’ site, but really a ‘Go Fund EPCOT’ site. If the likes of Elon Musk or Richard Branson, who are billionaires don’t think that creating the original concept of EPCOT is for them, maybe the rest of us who do believe that there is merit to the idea could create a collective entity that is funded by individuals like you and me. Sounds far fetched, but then again isn’t that what EPCOT was in the first place?