《Khan 访谈 Musk》阅读笔记

本文源自 Salman Khan 对 Elon Musk 四年前的一次 Chat,也是 Khan Academy 经济类课程中一个学时中的内容:

I just came from the Tesla factory in Fremont.

费利蒙市(Fremont)是一个位于美国加州旧金山湾区东南部的城市,Tesla 2010 年用 4200万 美金向丰田购买了这家工厂

So today's fiasco was -- I kid you not -- we were missing a $3 USB cable.

相当于 I am not kidding you. 整条生产线因为这根 3美金 的 USB线 停了下来

So essentially, because it's part of the wiring harness.

线束,前面提到的 USB 线是「线束」中的一根

means that you've got to stack them up in the yard.

yard 的意思有「无所事事,闲置在家」的意思,因为一根线的缘故让缺少了这个配件的汽车呆在 yard 这么形容也挺贴切

SAL KHAN: Like, literally, RadioShack? ELON MUSK: Like Fry's.

RadioShack 和 Fry's 都是电子器材店,RadioShack 都是面积不大的小店,Fry's 规模一些更像大型超市。RadioShack 创建于1921年,2017年3月宣布倒闭,Fry's 现在好像还不错,有30多家线下店

you were going to be doing this or-- when did it dawn on you that you would try to revolutionize

渐渐明白 dawn on you, dawn on me 这样的表述都是可以的,表示渐渐明白或者慢慢发生

SAL KHAN: Yellowstone's due for an explosion every several hundred thousand-- Shandra knows about that. It's been 700,000, Super volcano for those of you who don't know.
ELON MUSK: Yeah. Exactly. I know exactly what you're talking about.
SAL KHAN: We read the same books.


  • 火山灰将覆盖全美3/4的土地;
  • 在火山一千千米范围内,灰尘引起大量暴雨,爆发泥石流,火山灰将压垮多数民房;
  • 火山灰尘导致电子设备无法正常使用,将使通讯,交通,物流等行业全线瘫痪;
  • 多数民众将死于化学气体中毒、受污染的水和食物,比如氟
  • 全球性的天气灾难。硫酸气体层将在2周内覆盖全球,反射阳光,致使全球平均气温下降12--15度。赤道附近可能持续两三年的积雪,季风消失,大部分人类和动植物会死于寒冷和饥饿。

And so the area that I was studying was advanced capacitors. So essentially capacitors that have an engine density exceeding that of batteries. Because they have a very high power density, but a low energy density. Maybe you have lecture to that effect, I don't know.

So I was going to try to work on that and try to leverage the equipment that was developed for advanced chip making and photonics to create ultra-precise capacitors at the molecular level.

Musk 说自己在学习超级电容,然后调侃 Khan 可能在学院讲过电容和电池能量的物理课程,Khan 创建可汗学院的原因就是意外的发现自己讲课特别擅长,所以自然有可能也讲过类似的物理课程

后面 Musk 刹不住车说了很多专业领域的内容,高级芯片制作、光子学、超精密电容、分子级等等,Khan 赶紧把话题拉了回来

SAL KHAN: And this was when you were going to go into grad school? You had a brief stint at Stanford?
ELON MUSK: That's right.
SAL KHAN: At a PhD in applied physics?
ELON MUSK: Applied physics, material science.

Khan 确认了一下 Musk 的高等教育经历,Musk 在斯坦福读应用物理材料科学博士其实只有短短的两天,所以 Khan 用了 brief stint 这个短语

And I'd actually worked at a company in Silicon Valley called Pinnacle Research, which did advanced capacitors. There were electrolytic capacitors. And they actually were pretty good. They had like the energy density of a lead-acid battery, which for a capacitor, that's a big deal. But they used ruthenium tantalum oxide. And I think at the time, there was maybe like one or two tons of ruthenium mined per year in the world. So it's not a scalable solution. But I thought there could be some solid-state solution, like just using chip-making equipment. That was going to be the basic idea.

Musk 透露在 1995 年念书的时候曾经在 Los Gatos 的一家叫做 Pinnacle Research 的公司有过一段实习经历,让他对超级电容技术有所了解,了解其原理和局限,有所设想,并结合其他资源最终引发了他制造电动汽车的经历。
not a scalable solution(没有可扩展性)

ELON MUSK: I think success on an academic level would have been quite likely, because you can publish some useless paper-- and most papers are pretty useless--
SAL KHAN: We have a few-- don't take offense.
ELON MUSK: I mean, how many PhD papers are actually used by someone ever?
SAL KHAN: That's a good point.
ELON MUSK: Percentagewise it's not good. And so it could have been one of those outcomes where you add some leaves to the tree of knowledge. And that leaf is, nope, it's not possible. And there goes seven years of my life.

Musk 对学术成就有点受伤,吐槽很多的人给学术体系帮倒忙,这个比喻蛮有意思的,「给树上加叶子,然后是枯掉的叶子」

So we started Paypal on University Avenue. After the first month or so of the website being active, we 100,000 customers.

University Avenue 是一条很短的街,然后这条街的 165号 非常的厉害,这栋楼里面出过 Google, Logitech, Paypal, Danger(智能手机的先驱,传闻是微软5亿美金收购) 等众多著名企业

SAL KHAN: So much money did you all spend with that kind of $5, $10, $20 incentive to get that critical mass going?

在核物理领域,临界质量(Critical mass)是指维持核子连锁反应所需的裂变材料质量。在这个临界点以后,就可以产生连锁反应的组合,核反应的速率会以指数增长。在互联网项目的用户增长过程中,也存一个类似的临界点,当每天增长的新用户多于这个临界数量之后,用户的增长速度就会有较快速的增长

ELON MUSK: It depends on your relative scale. It's a peanut to Google.

peanuts 在美式英语里面经常被用来指代「很小的一点钱」,所以经常说:works for peanuts, he pay peanuts

SAL KHAN: And then after Paypal, then I mean-- to some degree, especially us in Silicon Valley, we kind of understand the Internet.

to some degree 可以翻译成「从某种程度上而言」,感觉是一个蛮适合口语中使用的连接词

And so I started researching the area, becoming more familiar with space, reading lots of books. And I came up with this idea to do so-called Mars oasis, which was to send a small greenhouse with seeds in dehydrated gel that upon landing, you hydrate the gel.

Musk 创立 SpaceX 的初衷,就是为了为「火星绿洲」项目提供发射手段,「火星绿洲」是为了在火星上种植物

SAL KHAN: But you were willing to bet the farm, so to speak, on this?

bet the farm 是「孤注一掷」的意思,没找到典故反正就是这么说~

ELON MUSK: The Boeing Delta II would have cost $65 million each, so two would have been $130 million. And then I was like, woah, OK, that breaks my budget right there.

德尔塔2号运载火箭是由美国麦道公司设计和制造的运载火箭,是德尔塔系列运载火箭家族中的重要成员,在麦道被波音公司合并后,则由波音的综合防务系统分部负责生产。德尔塔2号运载火箭是NASA手中的1种重要火箭,从1989年开始投入使用,近百次的发射仅有两次失败。Musk 觉得 6500万 美金一枚的价格已经高于他的预算了(相比较而言,目前最新的 SpaceX 可回收一级火箭重复发射的猎鹰9发射价格为 4000万美元 不到,有效载荷则是德尔塔2号的5-7倍)

And so I had a series of meetings on Saturdays with people some of whom were still working at the big aerospace companies, just to try to figure out is the some catch here that I'm not appreciating. And I couldn't figure it out. There doesn't seem to be any catch.

catch 在这里可以翻译成「猫腻」

  • OK, I've seen all the benefits, but what's the catch?
  • This sounds too good to be true. There's a catch, isn't there?
  • Aha, triple interest rates! So, there's the catch!
  • There's always a catch. Nothing's truly free in this world.
  • Don't fall for their low rental rates. The catch is in their mileage policy.

ELON MUSK: However, if we make it reusable, then it can be two orders of magnitude cheaper.
SAL KHAN: Two orders of magnitude cheaper.
A 100th of the price?
ELON MUSK: That's right.

两个数量级:two orders of magnitude 百分之一:A 100th

And I've seen some-- you all are doing these vertical landings, like literally out of like the 1950s Sci-Fi movies.

1950s 被认为是科幻小说电影的黄金年代,10年间涌现了无数的科幻小说,以及200多部科幻电影,那个时代的人们正经历着战后的反思,冷战的序幕已经拉开,核武器的巨大威慑让人们对未来充满了不确定性的巨大恐慌,让这类科幻题材的影片出现了和那的市场,并最终促进了后来人类登月的壮举

John W. Campbell 的 Astounding Science Fiction 杂志被公认为那个时代最杰出的科幻杂志,旗下有众多一流的科幻小说作者,是那个时代幻想思潮的主要根源之一

Yeah, actually, that seems to be the case. I didn't realize they sold so few cars in that segment.

segment 的用法很多样:C-segment, that market segment, segment leader 等等,有时候可以翻译成「级别」,有时候可以翻译成「款式」。欧洲为了对汽车市场进行更好的管理,曾经制定了分类标准,用的也是 segment 这个词,称之为 Euro Car Segment,感觉这是一个汽车行业专用的词

The nature of new technology adoption is it tends to follow an S-curve. So what usually happens is people under-predict it in in the beginning, because people tend to extrapolate in a straight line.

新技术发展的 S曲线:


ELON MUSK: So it's, I think very impressive thing you're doing to spread knowledge and understanding throughout the world.
SAL KHAN: The universe soon, if you hold up your end of the bargain.

if you hold up your end of the bargain 可以翻译成「如果你完成了你那部分的工作(前面说要发射火箭、登陆火星等等)」,「end of the bargain」一般运用在双方合作并共同完成(一笔交易、一项合作)的情况下,所以含有「你那部分」这层含义,侧重在表示对方完成自己所约定那部分事情

But I think a lot of things that I would say, you've probably heard 100 times. And, in fact, are if not doing. The more you can game-ify the process of learning, the better. For my kids, I do not have to encourage them to play video games.

-ify 是一个表示「...化」的词缀,这里可以翻译成「游戏化」

I have to like pry them from their hands, like crack.
ELON MUSK: It's like, drop that crack needle.
SAL KHAN: You have that problem at your house, too. The crack is addictive.

Musk 形容他的小孩子玩游戏的时候全神贯注就像「吸毒」一样,crack 可以翻译成霹雳可卡因(Crack cocaine),是可卡因的游离碱形式,也是吸食可卡因时的一种常见形式。纯品为泛白色、带有锯齿状边缘的块状固体,密度比烛蜡略高。

And I think, unfortunately, a lot of education is very vaudevillian.

vaudevillian 是指1880-1920年之间,在北美比较流行的,混杂形式的表演者,这种表演能够把乐器、歌唱、杂技、小丑等串在一起,后来因为电影的发展而消亡

I mean the analogy I sometimes use is, have you seen like Batman, the Chris Nolan movie, the recent one. And it's pretty freaking awesome. And you've got incredible special effects, great script, multiple takes, amazing actors, and great sound, and it's very engaging.

在电影拍摄每个镜头开始的那个板子上,会有 take,表示某个镜头的第几次拍摄,每一次连续进行的表演,可以称之为一个 take
multiple takes 是指一个镜头被反复拍摄很多次,有时候是因为导演对表演一直不满意,有时候是为了满足后期剪辑的需要而故意多拍摄一些

SAL KHAN: So with that-- and I apologize to all of you guys for hogging up all of the time, because, obviously, I could talk for hours about this stuff.

hog(something) 的意思是一只把着一个东西单独使用,这里 Khan 这么说的意思就是他一直是单独和 Musk 单独聊,那么接下来就可以到观众提问的时间了,因为 hog 愿意是「猪」,所以这里要么是自谦,否则感觉说话蛮不客气的
例句:Dude, stop hogging the controller. I want to play.

ELON MUSK: I was reading about the California high-speed rail, and it was quite depressing. Because California taxpayers are going to be on the hook to build the most expensive high-speed rail per mile in the world-- and the slowest.


SAL KHAN: Is this around the evacuated tubes? The vacuum tubes? Like the old bank--
ELON MUSK: It's something like that.

在晶体管、集成电路出现之前,电脑是基于真空管技术的,Khan 说 Mush 的 Hyperloop 项目的原理类似于真空管技术,这里的 old bank 只是一个比方,因为银行为了安全和稳定,会固守一些老旧的技术,但是老到用真空管电脑?我认为是不可能的

But, we haven't done our earnings call yet. So I think I'll probably do it after the earnings call.

earnings call 是指公司管理层定期给投资人报告财务情况的会议,会议这么命名是源于 earnings per share (EPS),会议的内容会随后出简报公布,如果是上市公司的话需要遵守交易所的一些相关约定

You should really-- if you told it to an objective person, would they look forward to the day that that thing became available.

objective person 是指那些不会受情绪影响,对事物不产生偏见,仅仅基于事实来进行判断的人

Or an aircraft. Like I thought it was really disappointing when the Concorde was taking out of commission, and there was no supersonic transport available.