Tyson Says Asteroid Miners Will Be First Trillionaires

In a recent interview, astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson opined that there are plenty of financial incentives for space exploration. One in particular...


(Niel deGrasse Tyson on asteroid mining)

"The first Europeans to the New World were not [part of] the Dutch East India Trading Company," he says. "It was Columbus—paid by Spain. It was a national initiative."

The astrophysicist added: "Once he drew the maps and knew where the trade winds are and (where) the friendlies and the hostiles were, then commercial enterprise can come in."

Much like the universe itself, Tyson sees the opportunities for commercial enterprise to be endless, but he has one idea for a starting point. "The first trillionaire there will ever be is the person who exploits the natural resources on asteroids," he says.

Of course, others have spoken of asteroid riches, like Emmett McDowell, in his 1946 story Love Among the Robots, who wrote about the asteroid mines. And of course, asteroid mining robots to do all the work (from Isaac Asimov's 1944 story Catch That Rabbit.

But you'd need to go all the way back to 1898 to be among the first to read Edison's Conquest of Mars by Garrett P. Serviss, who described asteroid mining to the more than 680,000 startled readers of the New York Evening Standard in 1898:

I shall never forget the sight, nor the exclamations of wonder that broke forth from all of us standing around, when the yellow gleam of the precious metal appeared under the "star dust." Collected in huge masses it reflected the light of the sun from its hiding place.

Evidently the planet was not a solid ball of gold, formed like a bullet run in a mould, but was composed of nuggets of various sizes, which had come together here under the influence of their mutual gravitation, and formed a little metallic planet.

Judging by the test of weight which we had already tried, and which had led to the discovery of the gold, the composition of the asteroid must be the same to its very centre.

Via CNBC; thanks to Fred Kiesche and Jon Jeckell for the tip on this story.

Scroll down for more stories in the same category. (Story submitted 5/1/2015)

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