Interview with Elon Musk. Part 2 - about the weight, about Mars and about MBA
This is the second part of an interview with Elon Musk Elena Levin, columnist edition of the American Physical Society APT News. The first part was published yesterday. i>
Levin How do you decide faced by your business objectives? Do you helps your physical and mathematical education see business problems from a different angle, or otherwise to address them?
Mask The physics is very helpful, because mathematics, which supports the business, very primitive compared to the mathematical apparatus of physics. I remember how in the course of the analysis of the securities market lecturer explained that such a matrix. I was shocked. If you know the math enough to study physics, the economic problem will be solved without effort. Many scientists underestimate themselves in this area. In fact, they know a lot more than people think. You can just go and make the physical method of thinking to almost any problem - is a versatile techniques and they work in the world economy as well as in the world of physics.
Levin I also studied mathematics and physics, and always consider the problems in business as a binary tree, and I think over the steps 4, 5 or 6 levels ahead. You have it so happens? This study physics affects?
Mask Yes, in general, I always try to think of future events, trying to predict them. I foresee a chain of events, then analyze the errors and discrepancies between the prediction and the actual course of things and try to minimize these errors. That's how I see it. And I think in terms of the probability flux. There is a certain set of outcomes, the probability of these outcomes, and I want to be a winner in any case. So, though not always, everything happens as you plan, if everything is correct count, over time, be sure to prodvineshsya forward. Levin So it's your everyday way of thinking?
Mask Yes, I imagine the future as branching streams of probability.
Levin And there are some shortcomings in knowledge of physics for the person in your office and in your industry?
Mask Definitely not. I can recommend it to all. Conversely problem is that physics is very poorly taught in schools. A lot of time is devoted to the study of instruments, but does not answer the question: "What the hell do we make it teach?»
Levin When you hire employees on what qualities and characteristics you look first of all, except, of course, technical knowledge?
Mask As we are engaged in the development of SpaceX rocket technology, and our ultimate goal - to create a self-sufficient colony on Mars. For this first we need people who are able to find innovative solutions for all parts of the rocket. We are primarily looking for evidence of the exceptional abilities of the candidate. Of course, we look at and assess, but there is always the opportunity to cheat the university system, choose the appropriate courses and easily get a perfect score. So for us, often more important than victory in international competitions and Olympiads. If someone wins the science fair national scale, gathered an outstanding instrument or written an outstanding software still in their teens - it says about the outstanding capabilities, innovative mindset and initiative. It is for us the most important thing.
Levin What do you advise young physicists, or those who are studying for physics in case they want to become entrepreneurs?
Mask Think about what you really want to do, and that this would benefit the people, and then direct your efforts in this direction. In physics itself only a small number of people moving science forward, especially if success is dependent on large-scale technical projects such as the Large Hadron Collider. Even if you do not want to work after studying physicist, such education is very helpful. So I recommend to study physics as a foundation, then go a little more variety of applications engineering courses in order to determine the most interesting direction for you, and do not neglect the arts and humanities, especially history. And still be a good idea to learn a few economic subjects, at least in order to navigate the terminology. Basically, that's enough of one of accounting, although personally I can not stand him. Economic disciplines necessary, but not in large quantities. And I do not recommend MBA. MBA degree is not required, it is a bad idea.
Mask On the MBA courses are taught entirely wrong. There do not teach people to think. And the more prestigious courses, the worse. Because there are trained people to think that they are special, after which they are unable to accept feedback and impartially analyze their own mistakes.
Levin But you have to hire people with a degree of MBA?
Mask I hire rather in spite of the presence of degree, not because of it. Among the senior management of my companies are very few people with MBA.
Levin If random passengers on the plane were to ask you who you are by profession, what would you say?
Mask I'm an engineer. Rocketeer engineer and automotive engineer. Most of the time I have been doing just that.
Levin how much time do you spend solving engineering problems, and how much - management?
Mask In general, sixty percent of their time I am working with technical teams. I have every week for several meetings with engineers Tesla and SpaceX. However, over the past few months I have spent a lot of time on the business challenges associated with the reorganization of the sales and service in Tesla. Not the most pleasant of activities, but it was necessary.
Levin Between your companies goes exchange of technical ideas?
Mask Over time, more and more, everything should go through me. Work at the intersection of the aerospace and automotive industries is very useful - I see things that do not see those who work only in one of them.
Levin For example?
Mask The car - a rather primitive device compared with a missile, because to go into orbit, it must be extremely effective mass. The first stage of the rocket is 95% of the fuel. For engines, electronics, wiring, frame and so on there is only 5%. This is a very, very small. Working with missiles, you get used to optimize everything to grams. And now look at the machine - they have plenty of excess weight where not needed, and vice versa, is not enough strength in other places, and they are made of steel is not the best. Tesla Model S - the only car in North America, which is made entirely of aluminum. Since it is very heavy battery, we have greatly simplifies everything. To achieve such a large reserve, as in Model S, we had to go to an all-aluminum chassis and body. There's still a lot of things can be optimized, but first of all we would like to ensure that the weight of the car is comparable to the weight of a conventional petrol sedan, despite the heavy battery.
Levin What do you think when ordinary people can not afford space travel, as well as ocean cruises now?
Mask It depends on what you mean by space travel. Just rise above the dense layers of the atmosphere is simple - jump for five minutes and come back, that's all. And in order to go into orbit, you need two orders of magnitude more energy to disperse, and then still have to this energy somehow dissipate during braking, so it is much more difficult. I think orbital journey sooner or later will be worth, say, a hundred or two hundred thousand. Our Holy Grail - the cost of a flight to Mars is less than half a million. This threshold value at which it will be possible to create a self-sufficient colony on Mars. And another thing: many scientists have questioned the need for the cost of manned space flight, because I do not see them as much sense. I can agree with them, if we are talking only about the flights into orbit. But if we want to become a real space civilization, and, as a species, spread across many planets, it was manned flights is the most important. Because it greatly increases the expected duration of the existence of mankind, as well as its scope and scale that will lead to new breakthroughs in physics and other fields.