Elon Musk Introducing Hand Gesture Based Rocket Part Engineering
By Yonatan Gordon
Shortly after 2013 began, I wrote an article titled “2013, Leap Motioning into the New Year (The Leap Motion in Concept). Now before offering up my thoughts for 2014, I thought it a good time to wax poetic and reflect on this past year.
Personally speaking, the article was written at a time when all I remember knowing about Elon Musk was that he wanted to send people to Mars. But after a year of coming up with one news headline after another, Fortune Magazine decided to call him the businessperson of the year. While Musk made many headlines this year, there is one consistent theme in each story: He wanted to make or do something that “leaped” from Point A to Point B.
What Musk now calls “First Principles” thinking, I called uncovering the “Vision Statement” or that initial concept, vision or idea behind a product. Here is how I explained the Vision Statement behind the Leap Motion hand gesture device:
By emphasizing hands as the central force of movement in the body, Leap Motion is helping us to envision all our creative endeavors as something 3D; even the once presumed 2D task of writing or drawing.
Second Place Products
Before we get to Musk’s own announcements in 2013, let’s begin with a thought mentioned in my article on “First Principles” thinking. Using the recent announcement from Amazon about their intention to use flying drones to make deliveries, I mentioned that irrespective of whether the result takes place, the message was publicized. As one journalist wrote, Amazon could have said that they were “now accepting Bitcoin, or orders through Google Glass, or 3D printing your deliveries of baby wipes and socks.” Other writers began talking about Amazon rocket deliveries that would taken less than 5 minutes (instead of the 30 minute drones), or a fleet of self-driving cars. While the self-driving story appears to have been a parody, the results would have all been pretty much the same. The lesson, and this is an important one, is that First Principles thinking is concept based. Irregardless of whether the product is actually developed, the concept–in this case, the desire to reach instantaneous delivery speeds–was achieved.
While many journalists called it a publicity stunt, our approach is slightly different. Whether commercial drones takes to the skies or not, the message was conveyed; and now the world knows that instantaneous deliveries is something that people care about.
1969 Moon Landing
I mentioned to someone a few months back that whether the July 21, 1969 Apollo 11 moon landing was a hoax or not, either way, it inspired a new generation to think optimistically about the future. It’s not that I think that the landing was filmed in a television studio, or that I think that it wasn’t. What interests me–as was reinforced by the more recent Amazon drone story–is that the event or product itself (the outcome) plays second fiddle to the message.
If the 1969 landing occurred on the moon, what resulted? While there were some scientific advances, what stands out in my mind (and the minds of millions of others) is that the landing inspired a revolution of free-thinking, creative, futuristic thought.
Leaping from the Product
Now that I’ve brought some background material, I would interpret the popularity of Musk in 2013 to be a testament to the fact that he marketed the “leap” more than other businesspeople. Let’s start looking at some examples.
One of the clearest examples for how Musk expressed this principle in 2013 was the announcement that he wanted his rocket engineers to start designing rocket parts with their hands using … yes you guessed it, the Leap Motion hand motion sensor! I wrote an article shortly after that announcement entitled: Designing Long-Range Rockets with Your Hands
Musk also recently announced something called the Hyperloop, a vacuum-sealed high-speed transit system that would initially be used to take passengers between Los Angeles and San Francisco in under 45 minutes.
Let’s quote again from that Leap Motion article published early January:
As was mentioned above, the greatest concept behind Leap Motion is the expansion of human potential. Not linear progression, but quantum leaps and jumps forward from 2D to 3D reality. This then plays nicely with the concept that the Ba’al Shem Tov made famous called Kefitzas Ha’derech (lit. “the jumping of the road”). This was the phenomenon whereby he would leap great distances between cities on his wagon.
As explained in “Speeding from Science Fiction to Fact: Elon Musk’s Hyperloop, Wormholes and Kabbalah,” the Vision Statement or First Principle behind the Hyperloop is exactly that.
Then there was the story about the transformable submarine car prop that Musk bought for close to $1 million. I wrote about the different ways in which we leap forward through life (either the short long or long short way) in “Elon Musk’s Transformable Submarine in Jewish Thought.”
More than the Leap
Launch of SpaceX’s Reusable “Grasshopper” Rocket
While I didn’t have the opportunity to write about Musk’s successful launches of his SpaceX space transport company, or the leaps he’s made at his electronic car company Telsa Motors, there’s enough evidence to say that he is probably the businessperson who marketed “leaps” the most in 2013.
But in order to bring this article, and year-in-review, back down to Earth, let’s go back to that leap made in 1969. Again whether it happened or not, what we do know for sure is that the public was privy to one of the most well-known quotes of the past century: “One small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.”
I would venture to say that this line was the First Principle of the moon landing. The fact our small steps, can be turned into a leap for mankind, is something that we would all like to achieve. But like the debate over the moon landing itself, the take home thought that I would like to end with is that Musk is not known for any of the products he bought or made in 2013. Instead, he is known for the ideas that he presented, and the dreams that he helped inspire.
But like my original article ended, in order to properly put these dreams into context, we need to place them within the landscape of the Torah. Each of the articles linked above attempted to do just that; to turn the written word itself into the 3D product that resides within the landscape of Torah. To say it another way, the public is beginning to realize that its the idea that makes the product, and that the 3D application to the product is not as it first appears to be.
To quote again from my January article:
By focusing on the latent power of the hands, Leap Motion is saying that even your presupposed 2D tasks like writing, should be approached as if you were constructing a 3D reality. More than a flat book or screen, words have the ability to move the hearts and minds of millions.
This is what makes the concept behind this machine so remarkable. It was impressive to hear that Superman could leap tall buildings, but until now, we always thought hands had a 2D element to them. While we knew prior to Leap Motion that molding took place in 3D space, in 2013 we have to rethink the very words we type. If they don’t verily leap from the page, there’s something wrong. Like in a YouTube video that goes “viral,” the written word will be seen as the biggest mover and shaker in 2013.
Note to Reader: Although I go according to the Jewish calendar, which started some weeks ago, for audience purposes I used the civil year of 2013 instead of the previous Jewish year of 5773.