Since the announcement last week that a team of high-profile backers--Eric Schmidt and Larry Page from Google, filmmaker James Cameron, Ross Perot Jr. (son of the former presidential candidate), space tourism pioneer Eric Anderson, and X-Prize founder Peter Diamandis, among others--is launching a company that will "overlay two critical sectors—space exploration and natural resources—to add trillions of dollars to the global GDP," media speculation has generally centered on one thing: asteroid mining. And this morning, hours before the official press conference launching Planetary Resources Inc., that speculation appears to be confirmed.
In today’s morning headlines comes an international tussle with wide-ranging implications: according to the New York Times, the Chinese government has ordered customs officers to halt shipments of rare earth elements to Japan.
For over two centuries we have struggled to understand the scope of Afghanistan's mineral wealth. Now geologists, if they can determine what lies beneath the nation's ground, might also help bring stability to the surface
By Matthieu Aikins
Posted 09.14.2010 at 10:26 am 22 Comments
Early one morning in June, just a week after the New York Times reported claims by U.S. officials that Afghanistan was perched atop enough copper, gold, iron, lithium, and assorted rare minerals and gemstones “to fundamentally alter the Afghan economy and perhaps the Afghan war itself,” I made my way with a local guide to the illegal mines of the Safit Chir, an emerald-rich line of ridges 100 miles northeast of Kabul.
Diamond may remain the preferred material for wedding rings, Lil' Wayne's birthday gifts, and Damien Hirst sculptures, but it looks like girls' best friend will have to relinquish its title as the hardest natural substance known. The new title holder: mysterious carbon compounds found in a Finnish meteorite.
Bolivia is primarily known for two things: being the poorest country in South America, and having a president with a terrible haircut. However, it might soon be known for a third thing: lithium. Turns out Bolivia has the world's largest reserves of the light metal, and according to Foreign Policy, that positions Bolivia as the Saudi Arabia of our carbon-less, battery-powered future.
Five amazing, clean technologies that will set us free, in this month's energy-focused issue. Also: how to build a better bomb detector, the robotic toys that are raising your children, a human catapult, the world's smallest arcade, and much more.