January 22, 2022

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Fail: Exam paper marked by Elon Musk up for auction

Fail: Exam paper marked by Elon Musk up for auction
Elon Musk fans must be all a quiver this week as they finally have the chance to buy a collectible to slide under the bust of their idol's head: papers signed by the man himself. We're not sure what to use as the collective noun for Musk obsessives. Maybe a "delusion"? In the case of…

Elon Musk fans must be all a quiver this week as they finally have the chance to buy a collectible to slide under the bust of their idol’s head: papers signed by the man himself.

We’re not sure what to use as the collective noun for Musk obsessives. Maybe a “delusion”?

In the case of the auction, the items up for grabs are papers said to be marked up and graded by Musk when he was a teaching assistant at the University of Pennsylvania. The future Tesla CEO wielded the red pen, initialling the paper and scoring the answers.

Ironically, Musk appears to have taken exception to the language used by the student when defining “Exit Strategy.”

“A viable way to end operations if shit hits the fan,” earned the student, Brian Thomas, a terse “graphic” from Musk and a points deduction.

Thomas has written a detailed letter of provenance for the item. Musk has, as yet, not responded to our request for comment.

The annotated and initialled coursework has an estimate of $4,000+ at the auction (due to end on Wednesday) although the top offer currently stands at $1,481 after 17 bids.

Musk, who offloaded a billion dollars’ worth of Tesla shares last week, might well have used some graphic language of his own after reports surfaced last month about the challenges SpaceX faces in the production of the Raptor engine required by the company’s Starship rocket.

Musk’s companywide email, a copy of which was obtained by CNBC, warned of dire consequences if Starship wasn’t flying regularly. The rocket has yet to reach orbit, and each of the prototype launchers requires 39 Raptor engines apiece. The plan is that Starship will be reusable.

Getting to orbit is quite a challenge, although over the weekend Musk reminded the world of a past publicity stunt: “My car is currently orbiting Mars.”

Jonathan McDowell, astronomer at the Center for Astrophysics, corrected the billionaire, potentially earning himself the ire of Musk’s army of fans.

Well, no. It’s orbiting the Sun, and occasionally passes the orbit of Mars. Not the same thing.

— Jonathan McDowell (@planet4589) December 4, 2021

One Twitter user remarked in a (now-deleted) tweet: “Who died and made you the orbital police?”

To which McDowell responded drily: “Johannes Kepler.” ®

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