25 April 2012

Harvard Dropout Bill Gates Takes Online MIT Course, Discovers a new Investment Opportunity

It is never too late to have a dangerous childhood, and it is never too late for a dropout such as Bill Gates to go back to school -- even if for only one online course.
According to Phil Giudice, the CEO of a battery startup called Liquid Metal Battery, his company found their most high profile investor, Bill Gates, through a more unusual way: the classroom.

...Gates started taking a class from Liquid Metal Battery founder and MIT Professor Don Sadoway via MIT’s online open-course program. Gates took Sadoway’s 34-lecture series on batteries and contacted Sadoway by email to meet with him and learn more, said Giudice.

“At first Don thought it was a joke,” said Giudice, “but then realized it was actually Gates and that Gates was serious,” said Giudice. Soon after, Gates invested in Sadoway’s new battery venture Liquid Metal Battery, and has also invested in at least four other battery startups. _GigaOm


It will be at least two years before the new battery will be ready for commercial application, but the episode does illustrate the idea that it is never too late to re-open at least some chapters of one's life.

MIT Open Courseware

This vial containing three immiscible liquids – that is, liquids that cannot be mixed – demonstrates how the chemical components of a liquid metal battery can self-assemble. When the vial is shaken, the liquids separate after a few seconds. (Photo by Lee Moshurchak, courtesy of Donald Sadoway.)

Introduction to Solid State Chemistry is a first-year single-semester college course on the principles of chemistry. This unique and popular course satisfies MIT's general chemistry degree requirement, with an emphasis on solid-state materials and their application to engineering systems. _MIT OCW
MIT Open Courseware



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Anonymous Anonymous said...

Fantastic. Just shows that learning never stops :)

Would Gate's next startup be something eco-friendly in nature?


Wednesday, 25 April, 2012  
Blogger Bruce Hall said...

Most "eco-friendly" endeavors have an "eco-animus" component. It could be argued that Gates' creation, Microsoft, was eco-friendly because it facilitated the "paperless" revolution in business. Of course, the computer electronics necessary to use Gates' product are not so eco-friendly. But then it could be argued that computers are eco-friendly because they allow work-from-home arrangements which reduce the need for commuting.

The simpleton's approach is to pick an "eco-winner" and push full steam ahead regardless of unintended consequences. Wind turbines require all manner of dirty manufacturing, affect the local climate, kill birds and bats, and may cause epileptic seizures or altered mental states. Additionally, they are unreliable sources of electricity. Henry Ford did not create an eco-friendly, mass-produced machine, but he did create an alternative to millions of horse droppings and disease-spreading flies which, I would think, might be considered eco-animus.

What Gates appears to be investigating is an alternative to lithium batteries which cause havoc to the environment when the raw materials are mined and which cause a huge environmental mess with disposal.

The non-simpleton approach to eco-friendly requires a far more in-depth analysis than most people are willing to endure... and perhaps a re-examination of what the term "eco-friendly" really means.

Wednesday, 25 April, 2012  
Blogger al fin said...

Very good points, Bruce. Thanks.

Wednesday, 25 April, 2012  

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“During times of universal deceit, telling the truth becomes a revolutionary act” _George Orwell

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