Trove of Rare Earth Metals Found
The world's insatiable demand for the rare-earth elements needed to make almost all technological gadgets could one day be partially met by sea-floor mining, says a new report.
What's the Latest Development?
It has long been known that the ocean might provide a wealth of rare earth metals. Sea-floor hydrothermal vents pump out rare-earth elements dissolved in their hot fluids. A recent assessment of the Pacific Ocean's resources published in Nature Geoscience estimates that "a 1-square-kilometre area around the site that has the highest concentration of the elements in its mud holds a cache equivalent to one-fifth of current annual demand—about the same yield as a small mine on land."
What's the Big Idea?
While the elements found on the Pacific floor are the same ones currently used in high-tech gadgets, mining the elements is another questions entirely. "People talk about mining on the asteroids or the Moon. This isn't that hard, but it's similar," says Gareth Hatch, an industry analyst and founder of the Technology Metals Research consultancy in Carpentersville, Illinois. "Commercial mining of [sea-floor] nodules is 'probably a decade away', says Craig Smith, an oceanographer at the University of Hawaii at Manoa."
Step inside the unlikely friendship of a former ACLU president and an ultra-conservative Supreme Court Justice.
- Former president of the ACLU Nadine Strossen and Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia were unlikely friends. They debated each other at events all over the world, and because of that developed a deep and rewarding friendship – despite their immense differences.
- Scalia, a famous conservative, was invited to circles that were not his "home territory", such as the ACLU, to debate his views. Here, Strossen expresses her gratitude and respect for his commitment to the exchange of ideas.
- "It's really sad that people seem to think that if you disagree with somebody on some issues you can't be mutually respectful, you can't enjoy each other's company, you can't learn from each other and grow in yourself," says Strossen.
- The opinions expressed in this video do not necessarily reflect the views of the Charles Koch Foundation, which encourages the expression of diverse viewpoints within a culture of civil discourse and mutual respect.
Learn how to redesign your job for maximum reward.
- Broaching the question "What is my purpose?" is daunting – it's a grandiose idea, but research can make it a little more approachable if work is where you find your meaning. It turns out you can redesign your job to have maximum purpose.
- There are 3 ways people find meaning at work, what Aaron Hurst calls the three elevations of impact. About a third of the population finds meaning at an individual level, from seeing the direct impact of their work on other people. Another third of people find their purpose at an organizational level. And the last third of people find meaning at a social level.
- "What's interesting about these three elevations of impact is they enable us to find meaning in any job if we approach it the right way. And it shows how accessible purpose can be when we take responsibility for it in our work," says Hurst.
Erik Verlinde has been compared to Einstein for completely rethinking the nature of gravity.
- The Dutch physicist Erik Verlinde's hypothesis describes gravity as an "emergent" force not fundamental.
- The scientist thinks his ideas describe the universe better than existing models, without resorting to "dark matter".
- While some question his previous papers, Verlinde is reworking his ideas as a full-fledged theory.
TuSimple, an autonomous trucking company, has also engaged in test programs with the United States Postal Service and Amazon.
PAUL RATJE / Contributor
- This week, UPS announced that it's working with autonomous trucking startup TuSimple on a pilot project to deliver cargo in Arizona using self-driving trucks.
- UPS has also acquired a minority stake in TuSimple.
- TuSimple hopes its trucks will be fully autonomous — without a human driver — by late 2020, though regulatory questions remain.