The Business of Mining Asteroids
Dr, Michio Kaku: Sadly, the US government will no longer boldly go into space. Its up to private enterprise to now pick up the slack and it appears that is exactly what its doing.
Recently, a group of Google and Microsoft billionaires, film maker James Cameron, directors of the X-Prize Foundation (Peter Diamandis), founder of the commercial space tourism company Space Adventures (Eric Anderson), former astronauts, etc. have banded together to propose a new, game-changing technology: mining the asteroids. Although much of the details of their mission are still under wraps, it is possible to piece together what their grand strategy is. It is also possible to envision how they might succeed, as the group backing the project is made up of exactly the kind of risk takers who have the daring and the financial means to pull it off.
The new venture called Planetary Resources, Inc. has a variety of videos published on their YouTube Channel including the official April 24th press conference (below). Their website however includes further details about the Mission, Technology, Team, Opportunities, and News -- with a statement on the main page of "establishing a new paradigm for resource discovery and utilization that will bring the solar system into humanity’s sphere of influence. Our technical principals boast extensive experience in all phases of robotic space missions, from designing and building, to testing and operating. We are visionaries, pioneers, rocket scientists and industry leaders with proven track records on—and off—this planet."
Watch the video below for additional details about Planetary Resource's plan to mine asteroids for water and precious metals
Basically, they hope to create a vast new source of natural resources by mining the heavens. There are positive and negative aspects of this grand vision. On the positive side, there are valuable minerals that might be found in asteroids, such as platinum-type metals, which may yield a bonanza for future space prospectors. In fact, these visionaries foresee a time when trillions of dollars may flow into the coffers of the entrepreneurs who dare to think in terms of these grand schemes.
On the negative side, however, is a long list of potential problems, starting with cost. It costs $10,000 to put even a pound of anything into near-earth orbit. That is your weight in gold. It costs roughly $100,000 a pound to put you on the moon. And roughly a million dollars a pound to put you on Mars. So the costs of mining the asteroid belt are truly astronomical.
Second, there are dangers and technical problems. Our astronauts have never been in deep space for more than a few days on missions to the moon. The asteroid belt is an entirely new frontier, fraught with dangers. We would need new booster rockets, new space stations, a new space infrastructure, etc. etc.
However, it is possible to modify the original dream of science fiction writers to reduce the cost. First, one can use robots instead of human astronauts to cut down on costs and dangers. Second, one can let the asteroids come to you, rather than going to the asteroid belt. As we now know, asteroids the size of battleships regularly whiz by the earth, totally unnoticed until recently. So, one can envision grabbing such a near-earth object, modifying its orbit, so that it orbits the earth, where it can be safely mined. So we never have to go as far as the asteroid belt at all. Third, one can envision that one day, a booming mining industry will supply distant colonies with basic raw materials. In other words, most of the metals and resources will not be used for the earth at all, but for maintaining colonies already in space. This way, we do not need to bring these materials back to earth at all, which would be very costly.
Wisely, this group of visionaries is starting with very modest goals first. They plan to fund private space telescopes, so that private enterprise can safely analyze what is out there in space and then make a decision about sending astronauts to rendezvous with an asteroid. This baby step is far more reasonable than starting a crash program to build booster rockets to mine asteroids now.
President Obama speaks of encouraging our youth with a new "Sputnik moment." That is very difficult, since the government has cancelled Sputnik, i.e. the manned space program. I am all in favor of new Sputniks to inspire the next generation of scientists, especially when it is funded by other people's money. Visit the White House Blog where Obama speaks about our generation's Sputnik moment being now -- "In 1957, just before this college opened, the Soviet Union beat us into space by launching a satellite known as Sputnik. And that was a wake-up call that caused the United States to boost our investment in innovation and education -– particularly in math and science. And as a result, once we put our minds to it, once we got focused, once we got unified, not only did we surpass the Soviets, we developed new American technologies, industries, and jobs. So 50 years later, our generation’s Sputnik moment is back. This is our moment."
But there is one attractive feature to this proposal. It's all funded by private investors, not tax payers, so the public does not lose a cent. Sadly, the US government will no longer boldly go into space. Its up to private enterprise to now pick up the slack and it appears that is exactly what its doing.
What would happen if you tripled the US population? Join Matthew Yglesias and Charles Duhigg at 1pm ET on Monday, September 28.
Whether or not women think beards are sexy has to do with "moral disgust"
- A new study found that women perceive men with facial hair to be more attractive as well as physically and socially dominant.
- Women tend to associate more masculine faces with physical strength, social assertiveness, and formidability.
- Women who display higher levels of "moral disgust," or feelings of repugnance toward taboo behaviors, are more likely to prefer hairy faces.
Beards and perceptions of masculinity<img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yMjU5OTg0MC9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTY0NzkxMjM3N30.cH-GqNwP5GVqvstgJWAhBPn1B_lYpVEAI0I7iax7EQw/img.jpg?width=1245&coordinates=0%2C1900%2C0%2C849&height=700" id="caae6" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="cb0a355a4e8e1899789bc45f3f7aef56" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" />
Photo Credit: Wikimedia<p>The study used 919 American (mostly white) women ages 18-70 who rated 30 pictures of men they were shown with various stages of facial hair growth. The photographs depicted men with faces that had been digitally altered to look more feminine or more masculine, with a beard and without a beard. The women rated the men according to perceived attractiveness for long-term and short-term relationships. The study found that the more facial hair the men had, the higher the men were rated on their attractiveness, particularly for their suitability for a long-term relationship.</p><p>Part of this might be attributed to facial masculinity — i.e. protruding brow ridge, wide cheekbones, thick jawline, and deeply set narrow eyes — which conveys information to a woman about a man's underlying health and formidability. Women tend to associate more masculine faces with physical strength and social assertiveness. It can also indicate a man with a superior immune response. The researchers suggested that their findings favoring bearded men could be due to the fact that facial hair enhances the masculine facial features on a man's face, like creating the illusion of a thicker jaw line. This could communicate direct benefits to women like resources and protection that would enhance survival among mothers and their infants. In other words, while a beard doesn't mean superior genetics in and of itself, it might be a primitive, ornamental way of saying, "Hey girl, I'm a testosterone-fueled lean, mean, pathogen fighting machine." <br></p><p>It could also be that a beard becomes its own destiny. The researchers in this study cite prior research that found that by growing a beard, men felt more masculine and had higher levels of serum testosterone, which was linked to a higher level of social dominance. They also tended to subscribe to more old-school beliefs about gender roles in their relationships with women as compared to men with clean-shaven faces.<span></span><br></p>
What does disgust have to do with beard preference?<p>Obviously, not all women dig beards. The researchers were particularly interested in what traits make a women prefer bearded men over clean-shaven faces. They looked into several factors including a woman's disgust levels on various concepts, her desire to become pregnant, and her exposure to facial hair in her personal life. </p><p>According to the study, women who were not into facial hair were turned-off by potential parasites or other critters they imagined could be in the hair or skin. Women ranking high on this "ectoparasite disgust" scale might have viewed beards as a sign of poor grooming habits. However, women who ranked higher in levels of "pathogen" did find the bearded men to be desirable, possibly because they perceived beards as a signal of good health and immune function. An intriguing discovery in the study was links to morality. Women who displayed higher levels of "moral disgust," or feelings of repugnance toward taboo behaviors, were more likely to prefer hairy faces. The authors opined that this could reflect a link between beardedness, politically conservative outlooks, and traditional views regarding performances of masculinity in heterosexual relationships.</p>
Additional findings<img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yMjU5OTg1My9vcmlnaW4uZ2lmIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTYyNDI1NjUyOX0.P9B8WbmJR0q4nfzYZKbuNSA-2SAigVWJgrQE-_Gxlds/img.gif?width=980" id="49143" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="2ed3b1d6f20fc170bf2974646e565e8d" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" />Giphy<p>The correlations that existed between married and single women's rating on the attractiveness of beards were not particularly clear, although the researchers noted that single and married women who wanted children tended to find beards more attractive than the women who didn't want children. They also found that women with bearded husbands found beards to be more attractive, which might indicate that social exposure to beards influences how desirable they are perceived of as being. Or it could be that men with wives who like beards grow beards.</p><p>It's important to note that culture plays a huge role in how attractive women perceive certain male characteristics as being. This study looked at a small, culturally specific group of American women, so no big, universal claims should be made about masculinity, facial hair, and male desirability to women. However, research like this is important in highlighting how human grooming decisions are driven by much more than fashion trends. Sociobiological, economic, and ecological factors all play a part in the way we choose to present ourselves.</p>
Dominique Crenn, the only female chef in America with three Michelin stars, joins Big Think Live.
Having been exposed to mavericks in the French culinary world at a young age, three-star Michelin chef Dominique Crenn made it her mission to cook in a way that is not only delicious and elegant, but also expressive, memorable, and true to her experience.
New experiments find weird quantum activity in supercold gas.
Quantum Mechanics, Onions, and a Theory of Everything<span style="display:block;position:relative;padding-top:56.25%;" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="036ae7b8dd661df2d125a3421a0299ba"><iframe type="lazy-iframe" data-runner-src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/bcVruA0AJ-o?rel=0" width="100%" height="auto" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" style="position:absolute;top:0;left:0;width:100%;height:100%;"></iframe></span>
Researchers say that moral self-licensing occurs "because good deeds make people feel secure in their moral self-regard."
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