Anyone Want to Give Me a Billion Dollars?

This week a news report came out about more rich people doing the things that I wish I could do.  A group of million/billionaires including James Cameron and founders of Google are teaming up to form a new company called Planetary Resources.  They did not go into any great detail (their actual announcement comes next week), but the concept is that they are going to combine space exploration and natural resource extraction into a new industry.  Basically, they are going to mine asteroids.

Some of you may say that this is way too science fiction, and for the moment you might be right.  The concept itself has been around for a while, just not the technology.  One estimate I’ve heard in response to this press release is that we are 20-30 years from making this a viable operation.  I would say that with this group of innovators, plus ongoing advancements from other entrepreneurs like Elon Musk they could half that.

You may ask why they would do this?  Because Earth only has a finite number of resources. Many asteroids are just giant balls of minerals waiting for exploitation.  If Planetary Resources can make this happen (and I desperately hope they do) then they could literally be opening up a new revenue stream that could add trillions of dollars (their estimate) to the world’s economy.  Plus it has the added bonus of not having to strip mine pretty places on Earth.

I was very excited when I heard this announcement.  I hope that Planetary Resources lives up to its potential, because the basic fact is that if they start making money doing this then dozens of other companies will get involved.  This is how a new age of space exploration happens (funny this does seem to be a bit like The Third Age).  Money is the driver of so many things.  I am quite okay with the idea of rampant capitalism getting involved, because often that is the only way to get things done.

I will wait to see what they say in their actual announcement, but for now I am excited about the potential for humanity’s expansion into space.

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Epic of Epic Epicness

Well I’ve done it.  I finally started reading the Wheel of Time series again.  For those of you not well versed in fantasy, Wheel of Time is in the top 3 fantasy series of all time (other two are Lord of the Rings and Game of Thrones).  I am currently reading book 11, there are 13 right now and 14th on the way.  Though the series is now written by Brandon Sanderson as the author Robert Jordan died a few years ago.  Jordan’s wife and editor brought Sanderson in to finish the series based off of Robert’s notes.

I loved this series.  I started reading it when only the first 3 books (the best ones in the series so far) were out.  I believe I was in 7th or 8th grade, but don’t remember exactly.  I kept up with it as the years went by and each new book came out.  Around book 7 my interest started to wane.  I kept reading out of loyalty, but even my fan heart couldn’t block out my brain saying the series was going no where.  From books 7-10 nothing really happens.  Half of each book (not exaggerating) was nothing but descriptions of clothing.  Complication upon complication kept being introduced for each of the dozens of character that are a POV, but no complications were ever resolved.  Simply, Robert Jordan was spinning his wheels.  I actually found the same thing to be true of George R.R. Martin’s last book in the Song of Fire and Ice series (that’s the series Game of Thrones is based off of).

I reread the series in college (through book 9) and fell in love again.  Then after reading book 10 I gave up.  I declared that I wouldn’t read any more of the series because I had finally lost interest.  There was no end point in site, the books had stagnated. As a side note, I think this might be common in most long series.  Not to knock the authors (because I can barely get 1 book done, let alone 14), but I think they sometimes get lost in the story and forget the plot.  I equate it to changing the course of a river.  One book is like moving a small stream.  You can direct it where you need to fairly easily.  A series as long of WoT is like the Mississippi it goes where it wants and the author is just along for the ride.  I’m afraid Martin will fall into this trap.  I really want him to finish the series before he dies, but the rate at which he writes and his current age, may make that unlikely.

I saw the new books in Wheel of Time come out written by Sanderson.  I admit I was mildly curious, but there was really no desire to revisit the world.  Then Claire (which oddly enough Claire and I talked about Wheel of Time the first night we met) had some friends at her work that said that book 11 was good, and the Sanderson books (starting with 12) really started to propel the plot towards the conclusion.  She had also forsworn the series, but against her better judgement started reading them again.  She liked them and kept talking about them.

Finally I gave in and bought book 11 for my Kindle yesterday.  Because in the end, I really do want to know what happens.  I’ve known these characters for two thirds of my life.  I owe it to them to see them to the conclusion of their journey.  These books shaped my younger years.  In some ways I feel that I need to finish the series now as a memorial to Robert Jordan.  He made me want to write epic fantasy.  In my mind Wheel of Time is the epic fantasy series.  People talk about Lord of the Rings or even Wizards First Rule, and of course Song of Fire and Ice, but to me WoT will forever stand as the temple of epic fantasy.

Now I am off to worship at its words.

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Let Us Bask In the Glowing Warmth of Science!

Another interesting article for you to read. It appears our friendly neighborhood scientists at Sandia National Laboratories may have come up with an idea for producing nuclear fusion that surpasses the breakeven point (this is the point where the process produces more energy than what is put in).  They hope to have their device up and running by 2013 (assuming Torquemada doesn’t win the election and kill all scientists for their blasphemy).

This would be a first step, and many things could go wrong.  Plus, even it was successful, the actual commercial application would be decades away.  But it could be the first step in completely reinventing the world.  Imagine what the world could look like with an unlimited power supply.

Ah science, how I love you so…no one in the government appears to…but I do…

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Neil deGrasse Tyson 2016!

Speaking of Explorers…

 

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Travel Man

Just read this article written by Richard Branson.  I of course knew about Virgin Galactic, but I did not know there was a Virgin Oceanic.  It appears that Mr. Branson will be teaming up with James Cameron to explore the deepest parts of the ocean.  Seriously…this man is just awesome.  We need more people like him, wanting and willing to push the boundaries.

We need more explorers.

 

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Mildly Amusing

I am a fan of Downton Abbey (if you don’t know, watch it!  NOW!)  So I find this skit somewhat amusing.  That’s even considering that I can’t stand Arbys.

(Sorry couldn’t get WordPress to play nice with the clip, so you’ll have to click the link)

downton-arby-s-28723019.html

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Ah Money…

Many of you may have heard about James Cameron (directed Titanic, Avatar, etc) dove to the bottom of Challenger Deep (deepest point on Earth) in a submersible (that he designed) the other day.  With Cameron doing something like that, plus all the billionaires starting space companies (many I’ve documented in previous posts), it just proves that money really does allow you to do some amazing things.

Yes, yes…money can also cause EVIL, but the right person with the right dream and enough money can shape the world we live in.

Now…where did I put that MegaMillions ticket…

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