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"There's a poetry in the materials we use to construct our world of artifacts; it speaks of our long history as a technological species."
- William Gibson

Cyclotronic Ore-Hurler  
  Using the magnetic properties of an asteroid to send ore hurling across space!  

Early in the story, the natural magnetism of the metal in Asteroid 60 is referred to in a reversal of the idea of electromagnetic boots clinging to the side of a metal spaceship:

...he commenced the downward passage, his iron-shod boots clinging to the vertical wall of metallic rock, and as he advanced this magnetic attraction became ever more intense.

What if you cut a vast cylinder out of this planetoid?

"...Echo is just a gob of metal — mostly magnetite, except for these granules of rhodium — forty miles in diameter, but far from round. Then there’s that chasm, a mammoth crack that’s gaped open, cutting the planetoid almost in half. The whole thing is magnetic — like a terrestrial lodestone — and there’s a mighty potent field of force across that gap in the chasm. The walls are really poles of a bigger magnet than was ever built by Martians or human being. And of what does a big magnet remind you?”

After a moment of thought, Bormon replied, “Cyclotronic action.”


('Exit From Asteroid 60" by DL James)

There was a short silence, then Calbur resumed. “These Marts shoot the ore across space to the south magnetic pole of Mars. A ground crew gathers it up and transports it to their underground laboratories. As a prisoner explained it, it was simple; those old-time cyclotrons used to build up the velocity of particles, ions mostly, by whirling them in spiral orbits in a vacuum-enclosed magnetic field. Well, there’s a vacuum all around Echo, and clear to Mars. By giving these lumps of ore a static charge, they act just like ions. When the stream of ore comes out of the machine, it passes through a magnetic lens which focuses it like a beam of light on Mars’ south pole. And there you have it. Maybe you saw what looked like a streak of light shooting off through the chasm. That’s the ore stream. It comes out on the day side of Echo, and so on to Mars. They aim it by turning the whole planetoid.”

Technovelgy from Exit From Asteroid 60, by D.L. James.
Published by Planet Stories in 1940
Additional resources -

Compare to the mass-driver catapult from Robert Heinlein's 1966 novel The Moon is a Harsh Mistress and the hybrid mass-driver from Robert Heinlein's 1950 novel The Man Who Sold The Moon. Finally, take a look at a weaponized version of this idea, the stiletto beam from Arthur C. Clarke's 1955 novel Earthlight.

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Additional resources:
  More Ideas and Technology from Exit From Asteroid 60
  More Ideas and Technology by D.L. James
  Tech news articles related to Exit From Asteroid 60
  Tech news articles related to works by D.L. James

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