Deep Sea Mining Tube Worms
Deep sea mining worms to extract mineral wealth from the sea bottom? This science-fictional suggestion has been made (perhaps a bit tongue-in-cheek) by Greg Baiden, who holds the Canadian Research Chair in Robotics and Automation at Canada's Laurentian University.
The mining industry is in need of radical suggestions and far-out ideas. Centuries of exploration have found most of the mineral deposits that are close to the surface; when mines get deeper, expenses climb exponentially.
For a half-century, there have been no significant improvements in either the methods or the efficiency of standard mining techniques.
(Giant tube worms [Riftia pachyptila])
Cue the imaginative thinkers, who have noted that there are animals in the ocean depths able to withstand extremely high temperatures and sulfur levels and whose host bacteria turn carbon molecules and nutrients into organic matter. The ocean depths also contain (largely) untapped mineral resources.
"Mostly, everybody is just dipping their toe in the water these days in terms of innovation," Greg Baiden.
"I believe the next breakthrough is going to come when people actually go to mine underwater and bring back a few of these animals and we start putting them to work in our processing plants on the surface," said Baiden.
Although this is imaginative thinking, it is not original thinking. In his 1968 story A Gift From Earth, Larry Niven wrote about mining worms.
A mining worm is five inches long and a quarter inch in diameter, mutated from an earthworm. Its grinding orifice is rimmed with little diamond teeth. It ingests metal ores for pleasure, but for food it has to be supplied with blocks of synthetic stuff which is different for each breed of worm - and there's a breed for every metal...
What breaks down the ores is a bacterium in the worm's stomach. Then the worm drops metal grains around it's food block, and we sweep them up.
(Read more about Niven's mining worm)
As far as I know, the earliest reference to the general idea of a mining worm is from Love Among The Robots, a 1946 story by Emmett McDowell (see the entry for robot mining worm).
Scroll down for more stories in the same category. (Story submitted 8/29/2008)
Follow this kind of news @Technovelgy.
| Email | RSS | Blog It | Stumble | del.icio.us | Digg | Reddit |
you like to contribute a story tip?
Get the URL of the story, and the related sf author, and add
Comment/Join discussion ( 3 )
Related News Stories -
Worms Eat Plastic Now
'Slowly and inexorably, the rate of dissolution increased...' - Davis/Pedlar, 1971.
Mini-Brains In A Dish
'Cultured brains on a slab.' - Peter Watts, 1999.
NASA's Prototype Lunar Greenhouse For Mars And Moon
'In contrast to the airless desolation outside, the interior of this five-acre greenhouse was the one most desirable place to be.' - Raymond Z. Gallun, 1951.
Researchers Say 'Biohybrid Robot' - Clarke Said 'Biot'
'... The biological robots were not living creatures.' - Arthur C. Clarke, 1972.
Technovelgy (that's tech-novel-gee!)
is devoted to the creative science inventions and ideas of sf authors. Look for
the Invention Category that interests
you, the Glossary, the Invention
Timeline, or see what's New.
TALOS Exoskeleton Development Proceeding
'Suited up, you look like a big steel gorilla...'
Autonomous Robots Navigate Like Rats
'Out of warrens in the wall, tiny robot mice darted.'
SINTEF Robot Cleans Solar Panels
'The window cleaners, with large padded feet...'
Pangorin Restaurant Service Robots
What'll you have? Jawa juice?
Drug Creates Real Melanin Tan
I've used them all my life...
Medical Drones Hover Like Angels Near You
'The death-reversal equipment is on its way...'
SkEye Amazing Israeli Gigapixel Drone
'An eye that could not only see, but fly...'
How Rude! DARPA Wants Robots To Behave More Like Threepio
'Do I know protocol? Why, it's my primary function.'
'Liquid Light' Flows Around Corners
Light as a superfluid.
Unrolling The Filmy Materials Of Space Tech
'When unfolded and unrolled... it became a tough, gleaming film.'
Buddy Companion Robot Your Bulbous Friend
'Nanny was built in the shape of a sphere, a large metal sphere, flattened on the bottom...'
Poli-X1 Prototype Bee Pollinator
Is there anything drones can't do?
Bake in Space Bake-Off... In Space!
'A joyous condition commenced for the cook in the electric kitchen...'
DeepMind AI Baffled By Homer Simpson, Needs Human Help
'Whenever a robot finds something it can't identify straight off...'
Does Earth's Middle Mantle Hold Oceans Of Water?
Al Gore, you have no idea.
Vaccine Blocks Heroin High
'You're biochemically incapable of getting off...'
More SF in the News Stories
More Beyond Technovelgy science news stories