The Wall Street Journal (4/22/12) headlined the story “A Quixotic Quest to Mine Asteroids,” about a number of well known, respected individuals who have formed a company (Planetary Resources, Inc.) to search for natural resources in space, with the potential to mine asteroids.
The article states that “Such mining could yield large amounts of water, oxygen and metals to help further space exploration by allowing people to fuel spacecraft, build space stations and other constructs. The resources could potentially be brought back to Earth as well.” WSJ goes on so point out that a NASA study suggests that such missions could be accomplished by “around 2025.
The venture appears to be based largely on known technologies developed and tested over many years, primarily by NASA, and appears to be a continuation of man’s desire to explore and develop space. The investors appear to be driven both by the desire to pioneer in space and to develop new (and hopefully profitable) sources of metals and minerals. The WSJ article suggests iron and nickel for example.
All a logical extension of the world’s efforts in space.
The May-June issue of The Futurist includes an article Tsvi Bisk, “Limiting Energy’s Growth” that suggests transformational change over the next decade which could see carbon nanotubes displacing many common metals. Bisk suggests that carbon nanotubes, because of their extreme strength and light weight could replace metals in many applications, and that the cost of producing carbon nanotube products is falling. Moreover, carbon nanotube material “conducts electricity like copper and disperses heat like steel or brass.”
Bisk goes on to state that ”It is a reasonable conjecture that by 2020 or earlier, an industrial process for the inexpensive production of carbon nanotubes will be developed…”
So, here we have two views of the future, both unfolding over the next ten to fifteen years. Are they mutually exclusive? Not necessarily. Regardless of the success, failures or problems with the asteroid mining adventure, the development of carbon nanotube materials will continue.
But how will the development of super light, super strong materials that conduct electricity affect the demand for metals and other resources here on earth? Or in space? Will carbon nanotube products substantially displace metals in manufacturing and design of new products? How will that affect asteroid mining?
What will be the impacts and implications? What do you think? Here’s an opportunity for you to use the “Comment” space below. Or, if you prefer, send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org
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This is my last posting for the next few days. I will be taking my office apart so that we can move to our new apartment downtown next Tuesday. I will be unplugged and disconnected except by tablet. Expect me to be back in the saddle before the end of next week probably in time to provide you with some more headlines. In the interim these are the stories I share with you this week:
Today, literally thousands of alternative transportation vehicles are coming out of the woodwork and they nearly all have the same problem – no place to drive them. Most are banned from biking and hiking trails, and they are neither licensed, nor licensable, for use on the streets. I’d like to discuss some new possible solutions and why Colorado is poised to take the lead in the alternative transportation marketplace.
In a recent conference promoting not only their latest gizmos but their company's animating vision as well, Google executives declared they were working toward a future in which technology "disappears," "fades into the background," becomes more "intuitive and anticipatory." Commenting on this apparently "bizarre mission for a tech company," Bianca Bosker warns that their genial and enthusiastic promotional language masks Google's aspiration to omnipresence via invisibility, an effort to render us dependent and uncritical of their prevalence through its marketing as easy, intuitive, companionable.
Occasionally during meetings one of my staff – an avid birder – will elbow me and I’ll look up and glimpse a bald eagle. Each time, I am in awe. I live in Washington State, which is home to a plethora of eagles, where pods of Orca ply the waters near the San Juan Islands, and where roads are sometimes blocked by herds of elk.
In this month's Report on Business Magazine, a supplement that comes with The Globe and Mail, one of Canada's national newspapers, Stanford University's Mark Jacobson provides a best case scenario
According to The Hollywood Reporter, celebrity tech CEO Peter Thiel is upset that movies like The Matrix and Avatar make technological innovation seem "destructive and dysfunctional."
A team of researchers are asking the public to help them locate and count all the sources of CO2 coming from power plants on the planet.
Initial results from a selective breeding program at the National Institute of Agricultural Botany based in Cambridge in the UK, indicate the successful creation of a new super wheat.