Elon Musk – Not the Cologne in Your Cabinet

Leave a comment

10 Ways Elon Musk Is Making

the World a Better Place

You probably know Elon Musk as either a billionaire who’s as close as we’re likely to get to a real life Tony Stark, or that guy who keeps saying crazy stuff about how robots are taking over the world and we’re all going to live on Mars. However you see him, Musk is spending all of his time and money shaping the future of our world. Here’s how he’s doing it:

10. PayPal

elon1

In 1995, Elon Musk attended a graduate program at Stanford University for a grand total of two days before dropping out to try to change the world through the Internet. Four years later his first company, Zip2, sold for $307 million to Compaq. His next enterprise was a small company called X.com, which dealt in online financial transactions. You’ve probably never heard of X.com, but you have heard of the service that it became: PayPal. Ebay bought PayPal for $1.5 billion in 2002.

9. SpaceX

elon2

Elon Musk never intended to compete with NASA. He just wanted to use some of his insane wealth to put a greenhouse on Mars. His hope was that his humble greenhouse on the red planet would spark the public’s imagination and reignite popular interest in space exploration.

Then NASA quoted him $130 million for a rocket capable of getting to Mars,causing Musk to take a good, hard look at our existing space technology. He immediately recognized that much of the technology and manufacturing process was outdated. No one was stepping up to make space flight realistic, so he filled the niche himself. The SpaceX Falcon 1 rocket costs SpaceX’s clients $7 million per launch, and that’s presumably including a very hefty profit margin. That’s $123 million cheaper than NASA can do it for.

8. Tesla Cars

elon3

Elon Musk often talks about how he’s identified a three pronged approach for bringing humanity into the future. The first approach was the Internet. The second was interplanetary flight, and the third was the electric car.

Until now, the electric car has been career suicide for any car manufacturer. They’re notorious for being slow, uncool and taking 20 hours to recharge after every two hours of driving time. Musk got on board with Tesla motors, providing funding and eventually winding up in the CEO role. Tesla cars solve several key problems. They look cool, drive fast and have relatively low charge times, with a range of roughly 22 miles per hour of charge. This makes them much more user friendly than anything we’ve seen before.

7. Tesla Museum

elon4

A 2012 web comic created by The Oatmeal brought Nikola Tesla back into the public spotlight, turning the nearly forgotten genius into an Internet celebrity. When it became apparent that Tesla’s old laboratory was going to be sold to developers and destroyed the Internet rallied, raising a million dollars through a two week crowdfunding campaign. When Elon Musk heard about this, he donated an additional million dollars to the cause, and also pledged to build a Tesla car supercharging station at the site. Tesla’s old lab is now set to become a museum dedicated to the great man and his achievements.

6. Future of Life Institute

elon5

The robot apocalypse has been on people’s minds for some time now. TheTerminator movies made Skynet a household name, and The Matrix took things a step further by showing us what the world might look like after the machines completely take over.

In recent years, some of the smartest people on earth have been warning us that we’re getting close to the point where AI may surpass human intelligence. Sure, Siri can barely take a memo now, but the popular theory is that processing power doubles every two years. The singularity is getting exponentially closer.

Elon Musk is one of the voices taking the threat of AI seriously. In fact, he’s so worried that he made a 10 million dollar donation to the Future of Life Institute, which researches ways that we can peacefully coexist with machines, and also tries to identify and eliminate issues that may cause harm to people should that future become a reality.

5. Nevada Gigafactory

elon6

What do you do when your electric car company’s business plan requires more lithium ion batteries than the entire world produces? If you’re Elon Musk, the answer is to create a giant “Gigafactory” that meets your own demands.

Even for a man as wealthy as Musk, the Gigafactory is no small undertaking. The estimated cost of the factory is five billion dollars. Tesla is only worth just over three billion. That’s a bit of a funding gap. Musk got around this problem by inciting a bidding war between states who want to host the Gigafactory, which is estimated to create 22,000 new jobs and bring 100 billion dollars into the local economy over the next 20 years. The state of Nevada won with its offer of 1.4 billion in incentives, plus free land to build the Gigafactory on.

4. Mars Colony

elon7

You’ve probably heard of the ambitious Mars One project, which aims to put human life on the red planet by 2027. But Musk is planning his own Martian colony program, and he wants to do it three years earlier. While Mars One is hoping to put four astronauts on Mars, Musk’s vision would have an initial team of 10 that expands to a self sustaining colony of 80,000.

Unlike the Mars One project, who hope to fund their ambitions by turning the mission into a reality TV show, Musk isn’t looking for the best and brightest. He’s providing one way tickets to Mars to anyone who can afford the $500,000 price of a seat. Start saving your change.

3. Reusable Rockets

elon8

Not content with offering flights to orbit for one-tenth the cost of his competitors, Elon Musk is already working on the next way to save costs. He claims that if a launch mission costs $60 million, then only 0.3% of that cost ($180,000) is propellant. The rest of the cost is in building the rocket stages, which are discarded and fall into the ocean, meaning that they must be rebuilt for every mission. He compares that with the idea of airlines having to buy a new 747 for every flight.

Obviously, a reusable rocket would save a huge amount of money. You couldn’t just drop a huge rocket into the desert, though — that’s dangerous. So Musk has come up with a strategy to use drone technology to land his rocket segments intact on a sea barge. His first attempt didn’t go well, to put it mildly, but Musk is optimistic about perfecting the technology in the near future.

2. Self-Driving Cars

elon9

Google has been on the road to self-driving cars for several years now, and has said that they’re hoping to bring them to consumers in three to five years. So it should be no surprise that Elon Musk is looking to integrate the technology into his next generation of Tesla cars.

Tesla’s Model S already includes some self-drive features, such as the ability to change lanes automatically if there’s space and adjust the cruise control speed whenever the car passes a new speed limit sign. Musk has stated that the next step is to implement functionality that would allow drivers to summon their cars from the garage via their phones, at least when they’re on private property. Autonomous cars on public roads are still a legal nightmare.

1. Hyperloop

elon10

The Hyperloop is what trains want to be when they grow up. Elon Musk is currently working with UCLA graduates in Texas to build a test track for his public transit system, which he claims will be capable of reaching speeds of 760 mph. For comparison, the current fastest train in the world travels at 360 mph.

The Hyperloop works by enclosing a train in a low friction tube and using air pressure to shoot the train at massive speeds. It’s based off pneumatic tube systems used in offices to send messages between floors. Musk believes that his Hyperloop would allow transit between Los Angeles and San Francisco in just thirty minutes. That’s twice as fast as making the same journey by aircraft. If successful, the Hyperloop could make the world a much smaller place. Travelling across the country could be done in a fraction of the time it takes today.

Elon Musk

– Not the Cologne in Your Cabinet

Fictional Character Improvisation

Leave a comment

Ten

Top 10 Fictional Characters That

Were Almost Totally Improvised

 

There are dozens of lists online noting famous scenes or lines in movies that were improvised on the spot. However, as awesome as it is to know that “We’re going to need a bigger boat” was something that was thought up by Roy Scheider on the day of shooting, we wanted to do one better. So here here are 10 people that didn’t just improvise scenes, they improvised entire characters. Characters like …

10. The Janitor – Scrubs

scrubs-janitor

Neil Flynn plays the eponymous Janitor in Scrubs, a seemingly insane custodian who dreams only of commanding a squirrel army — truly the dream of the common man. It was actually originally conceived that the janitor would be a one-time character, but Flynn bossed his first day so well that the director himself insisted that they make him into a mainstay character.

Want a source on that? How about hearing it straight from Zach Braff himself? In his Reddit AMA, Braff revealed that not only was Neil so good at acting that he made it into the main cast just by being hilarious, but he made up so many of his lines that the script would sometimes just say “Neil makes something up and leaves.” You know you’re good at acting when the very people who conceived your character can’t think of lines funnier than the ones you can make up on the spot.

9. Wikus van der Merwe – District 9

Wikus-van-der-Merwe

District 9 is the story of Wikus van der Merwe and his alien best friend, Christopher. Though it’s never explained why Wikus has a far more alien-sounding name than Chris, there isn’t really time, since the entire film revolves around Wikus slowly turning into an alien, culminating in him shooting a South African warlord in the face while wearing a robot lobster fighting suit. In a rather unique twist, the entire film is filmed like a pseudo-documentary on Wikus and his eventual alien transformation. All documentaries should end with robot lobster fighting suits. All of them.

According to Sharlto Copley (Wikus), the film had no script to speak of. In other words, every line Wikus says is completely improvised, up to and including all that screaming and swearing he did. The was presumably done to keep the feel of a documentary, but you have to admit, it’s kind of impressive that, for 9 months, Copley turned up on set after 2 hours of make up and was trusted to just wing it for 7 hours.

8. The Genie – Aladdin

Genie-Aladdin

The Genie in Aladdin was a character specifically written for Robin William, mainly due to his immense amount of improvisational skill. Being a magical Genie with unlimited God-like power, the Genie naturally spends most of his time morphing into pop-culture figures that wouldn’t exist in their world, and thus make no sense within the context of the film itself, but luckily, who cares?

It’s reported that hours upon hours of material was recorded by Williams, the vast majority of it thought up by Williams himself. In fact, he recorded so much that the crew were at a loss as to how to boil it down to just his funniest stuff. Say what you want about the man, but when you can walk into a Disney studio, ignore the script, have the entire crew rolling on the floor laughing, and walk out with a paycheck, you win at making movies and have struck a severe blow at the heart of capitalism.

7. Dwight Schrute – The Office

dwight-schrute-the-office

The Office is a show revolving round, well, an office, in a faux-documentary style. Though it may not seem it, the show is 100 percent scripted. Everything you see, every um, every ah, and every pause is literally written right there in the script. With a few exceptions, of course.

As revealed in this interview, both Steve Carrell and Rainn Wilson improvise quite a few of their lines and jokes. However, it’s noted that Rainn is more prone to this; for example, during the first season episode Health Care, Wilson was able to list off several made up diseases, cracking up the entire cast in the process. Because all actors are required by law to know all fictional diseases, in case they ever decide to remake Outbreak.

6. Seth – Superbad

Seth-superbad

Superbad is one of the best received comedies of recent times, starring Jonah Hill, Michael Cera and Christopher Mintz-Plasse as a bunch of teens who want nothing more to feel what it’s like to be inside of a woman. Basically it’s American Pie for the current generation, only with a much less awesome soundtrack.

Jonah Hill, who plays Seth, along with both Cera and Mintz-Plasse, improvised a lot of their lines. Though the main story and actions of the cast were scripted from the start, the three young actors were given a lot of leeway with how they interpreted the script. For example, in this interview, director Judd Apatow (notorious for letting actors improvise) notes that, due to the sheer amount of time one has while filming a movie, actors have a lot of time to go with the flow. This is something Jonah Hill took advantage of when playing Seth, though we could have picked any character from the film. We picked Seth purely because his quotes are the most ridiculous.

5. Gunnery Sergeant Hartman – Full Metal Jacket

sgt-hartman

Full Metal Jacket is one of those films you need to watch. We can’t describe it here, because we don’t feel like we could properly describe the cure for eye cancer in film form. Needless to say, if you watch it and don’t find yourself quoting Sergeant Hartman, you’re dead inside.

R. Lee Ermey (Hartman), who once served as a drill instructor, felt like he was perfect for the part. So, while serving as technical adviser, he lined up 30 extras and yelled at them, in character, for 10 minutes straight. He filmed it and gave the results to Kubrick. When he saw the footage, he immediately fired whoever was playing Hartman at the time and gave Ermey the part instead. Ermey responded by ripping up Hartman’s part of the script, replacing it with roughly 150 pages of insults directed at the recruits. That’s something you just don’t do to a Kubrick script, since it’s usually a surefire way to make Kubrick stab you in the neck. But Ermey got away with it, because just look at the guy. You’d let him get away with it too.

4. Randall Peltzer – Gremlins

Randall-Peltzer

Gremlins, for the 8 people reading this who haven’t watched it, is a film about small creatures known as Mogwai that turn into bloodthirsty Gremlins and multiply exponentially if exposed to water or fed after midnight. Seemingly to avoid explaining why the Gremlins had taken over the entire world, they’re also killed if exposed to sunlight in gremlin form, because it was an ’80s movie and stupidity didn’t need to be explained.

It’s commonly known that legendary voice actor Frank Welker provided the voice of all the Mogwai and Gremlins, and that he was given free reign to improvise their lines. Though impressive, there was another character in the film who was largely overlooked: Hoyt Axton, the first guy onscreen, and seller of the Bathroom Buddy, is noted as improvising most of his lines. Yes, even that opening speech where he tries to sell a product his character is supposed to have invented. Damn Hoyt, you’ve got game. Why are you not more famous?

3. Optimus Prime – Transformers

optimus-prime

Optimus Prime is literally robot Jesus; when he died in the original cartoon series, he was brought back to life by God (the animators,) simply because people believed in him hard enough. When you have that kind of power, and are also a giant truck with flaming swords for arms, the guy who voices you is also going to carry some sway.

In the Michael Bay live-action Transformers films they got veteran voice actor Peter Cullen to be the voice of Optimus Prime. Seeing as Cullen had voiced Prime for years, his insight into the character was invaluable, meaning that if he felt that Optimus would say something that wasn’t in the script, you better believe he said it.

So how much did he improvise, exactly? However much he felt was necessary, that’s how much. Why? Cuz he’s freakin’ Optimus Prime, that’s why!

2. Dr. Peter Venkman – Ghostbusters

Dr-Peter-Venkman

We don’t want to insult you as an audience by describing Ghostbusters, but the word count says that we have to fill out this opening paragraph with something, so we’re just going to say that Ghostbusters rocked our socks and we’re happier that it exists.

Dr. Venkman, played by Bill Murray, was pretty much all Bill Murray. Various sources give differing accounts of exactly how much Murray read the script, with some saying he’d occasionally glance at it, and others saying he’d ignore it completely. However, what is certain is that he improvised, well, everything. So, with that in mind, it’s probably better to assume he didn’t look at the script, since it’s more offensive to assume he looked at the script and ignored it anyway.

1. Tony Stark – Iron Man

tony-stark

Iron Man is a film about a man who is almost killed by terrorists, and decides the best revenge is to murder people in a suit that doubles as a war crime. The film has everything from intimate romance, to scenes where two aging men in robot suits punch each other into orbit.

According to Jeff Bridges (one of the aging men,) the film was like a “200 million dollar student project.” People would turn up on set to find no script, and key scenes were improvised on the day of shooting. Robert Downey Jr., for his part, apparently came up with most of Tony Stark’s lines himself, on the spot. Though it’s weird to think that a film with the Marvel label was so loosely put together, it’s far more important to note that this only confirms what we were all thinking: yes, Robert Downey Jr. is pretty much a real-life Tony Stark, only without the robot death suit. That we know of.

Fictional Character Improvisation