Does Elon's Musk stink?

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Mo
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Does Elon's Musk stink?

Post by Mo » 16 Jul 2013, 13:45

Why do I get a time cube feeling from Elon Musk's hyperloop thing? Is it that it is faster, more reliable and cheaper than existing technologies? Seems a bit snake oily.
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Re: Does Elon's Musk stink?

Post by thoreau » 16 Jul 2013, 13:51

Mo wrote:Why do I get a time cube feeling from Elon Musk's hyperloop thing? Is it that it is faster, more reliable and cheaper than existing technologies? Seems a bit snake oily.
I get the feeling that the cost estimate is mostly based on the actual hardware, not the costs of everything else that goes into planning for that sort of land use, acquiring the rights for that sort of land use, preparing the land, etc.
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Re: Does Elon's Musk stink?

Post by JD » 16 Jul 2013, 13:51

My first reaction was that for a supposedly smart guy, Musk seems to have absolutely no idea how much his plan would (actually, really) cost.
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Re: Does Elon's Musk stink?

Post by JasonL » 16 Jul 2013, 13:54

He always gives off that vibe. I absolutely do not believe the cost estimate. I'm uncertain if I would apply the same or higher multiple one would apply to the cost estimate of a high speed rail project.

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Re: Does Elon's Musk stink?

Post by Highway » 16 Jul 2013, 14:06

I'm willing to give Musk a bit of benefit of the doubt. It's true that he overpromises a little and underdelivers a little, but he's generally not a vaporware guy. There *is* a Tesla Model S, and it's selling very well (for what it is). There *is* a SpaceX Dragon capsule, and it's performing as expected. Now, true, neither of those are *especially* groundbreaking, but they are things that weren't really considered viable, and to be honest I think he's stuck to his promises pretty well with both. Will he be able to deliver on a $40,000 M3-beating electric car (his latest Tesla prognostication)? I dunno. And I don't know how far along his guys thinking about Hyperloop are. Alpha design is pretty much Popular Science level.

But there are certainly improvements that can be made in construction, materials, and control systems from what we have now. I'll see what he comes out with.
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Re: Does Elon's Musk stink?

Post by Mo » 16 Jul 2013, 14:09

Higher. At least the usual suspects have an idea of what sort of expensive crap can go wrong. Musk is making it up as if he doesn't have to deal with a lawsuit, pay a decent price for land or do an environmental impact report. Or that anything will go wrong.
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Re: Does Elon's Musk stink?

Post by thoreau » 16 Jul 2013, 14:10

Highway wrote:I'm willing to give Musk a bit of benefit of the doubt. It's true that he overpromises a little and underdelivers a little, but he's generally not a vaporware guy. There *is* a Tesla Model S, and it's selling very well (for what it is). There *is* a SpaceX Dragon capsule, and it's performing as expected. Now, true, neither of those are *especially* groundbreaking, but they are things that weren't really considered viable, and to be honest I think he's stuck to his promises pretty well with both. Will he be able to deliver on a $40,000 M3-beating electric car (his latest Tesla prognostication)? I dunno. And I don't know how far along his guys thinking about Hyperloop are. Alpha design is pretty much Popular Science level.

But there are certainly improvements that can be made in construction, materials, and control systems from what we have now. I'll see what he comes out with.
How much of the cost of a big transit project is the construction materials and assembly, and how much is the studies and planning for the land use, and the earth-moving and everything else that goes into preparing the site?
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Re: Does Elon's Musk stink?

Post by tr0g » 16 Jul 2013, 14:18

I'm dubious. The physics doesn't work to me. The only way to go that fast and use less energy is reduce your frictional losses to near zero. I question how he thinks he's gonna pull that off going 600 miles an hour. Vacuum tunnels (which he says this isn't, btw) don't seem like a net energy saver to me.
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Re: Does Elon's Musk stink?

Post by thoreau » 16 Jul 2013, 14:19

I don't believe the cost estimates, but I'm willing to be optimistic about revenue estimates. If he could get people from LA to SF in less time than a plane, for less money, and with less hassle, then he could get massive ridership.

I just don't know if that massive ridership would make up for the cost over-runs that he's pretending won't happen.
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Re: Does Elon's Musk stink?

Post by Aresen » 16 Jul 2013, 14:42

The pressures involved would be huge, plus it would have vastly more moving parts than even a Maglev. For one thing, you would need a powerful pump at least every mile. Then you would have to create an essentially air-tight tube hundreds of miles long that can take large transient differentials.

If the tube is not evacuated in front, there is going to be a tremendous bowshock building up in front of your capsule.

I can't see it being built for less than $500 million/mile.
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Re: Does Elon's Musk stink?

Post by Highway » 16 Jul 2013, 15:14

thoreau wrote:
Highway wrote:I'm willing to give Musk a bit of benefit of the doubt. It's true that he overpromises a little and underdelivers a little, but he's generally not a vaporware guy. There *is* a Tesla Model S, and it's selling very well (for what it is). There *is* a SpaceX Dragon capsule, and it's performing as expected. Now, true, neither of those are *especially* groundbreaking, but they are things that weren't really considered viable, and to be honest I think he's stuck to his promises pretty well with both. Will he be able to deliver on a $40,000 M3-beating electric car (his latest Tesla prognostication)? I dunno. And I don't know how far along his guys thinking about Hyperloop are. Alpha design is pretty much Popular Science level.

But there are certainly improvements that can be made in construction, materials, and control systems from what we have now. I'll see what he comes out with.
How much of the cost of a big transit project is the construction materials and assembly, and how much is the studies and planning for the land use, and the earth-moving and everything else that goes into preparing the site?
These are all very intertwined, but in general, building something is orders of magnitude larger than talking about it. If we spend 10 million dollars on a planning study, that's a huge amount. If you spend 10 million dollars on a planning study and preliminary engineering for a 100 million dollar contract, you were doing something wrong. It would probably be more like 2 million study and engineering for a 100 million dollar project.

Right of way is similarly all over the map, because it depends on where it is, and what the use is for.

I have no idea what his idea is, and like I said, it's pretty Popular Science-y at this stage. But I do think that Musk delivers more than, say, Dean Kamens.
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Re: Does Elon's Musk stink?

Post by thoreau » 16 Jul 2013, 15:18

Fair enough. Still, I suspect that if you're going over mountains there are certain costs that are inevitable no matter how cheap and futuristic your materials and construction techniques are.
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Re: Does Elon's Musk stink?

Post by Highway » 16 Jul 2013, 15:23

Aresen wrote:The pressures involved would be huge, plus it would have vastly more moving parts than even a Maglev. For one thing, you would need a powerful pump at least every mile. Then you would have to create an essentially air-tight tube hundreds of miles long that can take large transient differentials.

If the tube is not evacuated in front, there is going to be a tremendous bowshock building up in front of your capsule.
Some of this would be mitigated by the idea of vehicles traveling at the same speed at some headway. You don't need to evacuate the tunnel in front if the air is not static. If it's being dragged by the previous capsule, you could have a fairly normal atmospheric pressure between the cars (this might have something to do with 'no crashing', since it would help provide a buffer between cars). And at high speeds, you can have high throughput even with quite a large distance between cars.

Not saying there are no problems with a pneumatic tube idea, but I don't know if they're insurmountable.
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Re: Does Elon's Musk stink?

Post by Highway » 16 Jul 2013, 15:30

thoreau wrote:Fair enough. Still, I suspect that if you're going over mountains there are certain costs that are inevitable no matter how cheap and futuristic your materials and construction techniques are.
Definitely there are. But maybe there's also an economy of scale that he's got in mind that we're not thinking of. Like if you're crossing a mountain range, do you get an operation economy if you've essentially got a siphon? Maybe your energy costs go way down because the capsules ahead - going down the mountain - are pulling your other capsules up the mountain, and that lets you use routes that other things couldn't touch. And I don't know what kind of construction methods he's looking at. If it's, say, an elevated track on piles, you have to contact the ground a lot less, and don't have to do nearly the roadbed preparation.

Again, it's still vaporware until there's actually some built. But if you're going to put someone out there with an idea and see about getting it built, there aren't many better guys than Elon Musk, for all his faults.
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Re: Does Elon's Musk stink?

Post by Warren » 16 Jul 2013, 16:24

According to Eric Jackson, Elon was running PayPal into the ground til he was forced out.
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Re: Does Elon's Musk stink?

Post by Highway » 16 Jul 2013, 16:29

Warren wrote:According to Eric Jackson, Elon was running PayPal into the ground til he was forced out.
I wouldn't be surprised. He doesn't strike me as a guy who's particularly good with actually running a company. He strikes me more as a Steve Jobs type: Ideas, pushing others, not the guy you want in charge of making things run.

Plus, obligatorily, PayPal sucks.
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Re: Does Elon's Musk stink?

Post by Aresen » 16 Jul 2013, 16:41

Highway wrote:
Aresen wrote:The pressures involved would be huge, plus it would have vastly more moving parts than even a Maglev. For one thing, you would need a powerful pump at least every mile. Then you would have to create an essentially air-tight tube hundreds of miles long that can take large transient differentials.

If the tube is not evacuated in front, there is going to be a tremendous bowshock building up in front of your capsule.
Some of this would be mitigated by the idea of vehicles traveling at the same speed at some headway. You don't need to evacuate the tunnel in front if the air is not static. If it's being dragged by the previous capsule, you could have a fairly normal atmospheric pressure between the cars (this might have something to do with 'no crashing', since it would help provide a buffer between cars). And at high speeds, you can have high throughput even with quite a large distance between cars.

Not saying there are no problems with a pneumatic tube idea, but I don't know if they're insurmountable.
If the tubes are not evacuated and you have a 600 mph airflow going through them to carry the capsules, you have a huge turbulent flow problem.
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Re: Does Elon's Musk stink?

Post by thoreau » 12 Aug 2013, 19:14

The proposal is up:

http://www.teslamotors.com/sites/defaul ... -alpha.pdf

If he can get us between LA and SF in 30 minutes and without the TSA, he can charge $250 easily. The revenue scenario is not crazy. I have no idea if the rest is crazy.
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Re: Does Elon's Musk stink?

Post by Jennifer » 12 Aug 2013, 19:21

thoreau wrote:The proposal is up:

http://www.teslamotors.com/sites/defaul ... -alpha.pdf

If he can get us between LA and SF in 30 minutes and without the TSA, he can charge $250 easily. The revenue scenario is not crazy. I have no idea if the rest is crazy.
If there's a way to get from LA to SF in 30 minutes, the TSA will demand jurisdiction over it. Security reasons, of course.
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Re: Does Elon's Musk stink?

Post by JasonL » 12 Aug 2013, 19:49

thoreau wrote:The proposal is up:

http://www.teslamotors.com/sites/defaul ... -alpha.pdf

If he can get us between LA and SF in 30 minutes and without the TSA, he can charge $250 easily. The revenue scenario is not crazy. I have no idea if the rest is crazy.
I didn't go into the technical section in any detail, but I'm a bit surprised you gain enough efficient air flow in semi evacuated chamber to do what you want to do with that fan.

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Re: Does Elon's Musk stink?

Post by Highway » 12 Aug 2013, 20:24

I dunno, the idea seems pretty sound to me. I think it's a lot more than just a 'fan', essentially the compressor section from a turbofan.

I read through quite a bit of it, and none of it seems like a "no, there's no way this would ever work". I do think that his use of the Model S in the energy comparison is both self-serving and inaccurate, since I don't see how it could use 1/4 the energy to take a Model S on the same route as a car.
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Re: Does Elon's Musk stink?

Post by Mo » 12 Aug 2013, 21:04

The only thing that seemed off was that you could make supersonic flight cheap and quiet.
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Re: Does Elon's Musk stink?

Post by Eric the .5b » 12 Aug 2013, 21:31

Highway wrote:I dunno, the idea seems pretty sound to me. I think it's a lot more than just a 'fan', essentially the compressor section from a turbofan.

I read through quite a bit of it, and none of it seems like a "no, there's no way this would ever work". I do think that his use of the Model S in the energy comparison is both self-serving and inaccurate, since I don't see how it could use 1/4 the energy to take a Model S on the same route as a car.
That's about my reaction.

However, the capsules look scary-cramped in the cutaways.
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Re: Does Elon's Musk stink?

Post by Highway » 12 Aug 2013, 21:54

Eric the .5b wrote:
Highway wrote:I dunno, the idea seems pretty sound to me. I think it's a lot more than just a 'fan', essentially the compressor section from a turbofan.

I read through quite a bit of it, and none of it seems like a "no, there's no way this would ever work". I do think that his use of the Model S in the energy comparison is both self-serving and inaccurate, since I don't see how it could use 1/4 the energy to take a Model S on the same route as a car.
That's about my reaction.

However, the capsules look scary-cramped in the cutaways.
Yeah, that kinda of creeped me out, too. 6.1 feet total height, 4.something feet total width (both out to out). Basically, you sit in a carnival ride kind of thing. For 1/2 an hour. Not my idea of comfy.
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Re: Does Elon's Musk stink?

Post by Jadagul » 12 Aug 2013, 22:09

Mo wrote:The only thing that seemed off was that you could make supersonic flight cheap and quiet.
Yeah. We know people aren't willing to pay for supersonic air travel. We know because it existed, and then it stopped existing because it was too expensive. So that comparison would make me worried about his scale estimates for everything else.

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