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 -
Mice Gestate In Mechanical Womb
'... in the Decanting Room, the newly-unbottled babes uttered their first yell of horror and amazement.' - Aldous Huxley, 1932.
Worlds With Underground Oceans More Conducive To Life
'There is life on Europa.' - Arthur C. Clarke, 1982.
Monkey Gets A Bigger Brain, Thanks To Human Gene
'It's a madhouse! a madhouse!' - Planet of the Apes, 1968.
Mushroom Coffin Returns You To Nature, Naturally
'She touched the leaf. She was wanted.' - Philip K Dick, 1954.
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.
Implantable Covid-Detecting Microchip Developed By DARPA
'Employees... were implanted with advanced microprocessors...'
SpaceX Requests Starlink For Starship
'... sweating, heat-blistered engineers at every interplanetary radiograph station on three planets.'
SF Writers Predicted John Deere Autonomous Tractors
'The huge plow... seemed to shake itself - and began to move back southward.'
DARPA Funding AI Fighter Pilots
'Cultured brains on a slab.'
StoryFile To Help William Shatner Become Landru
"I am Landru. I am he! All that he was, I am."
Telehealth Drones To The Rescue
'A shadow passed over him, and he looked up.'
Capture Asteroids In A Bag
'... just as a small boy catches a swift ball in his cap.'
Sony Pocket Air Conditioner Is Phil Dick's Idea!
'... he went to the hall closet to get his pith helmet and his mandatory cooling-unit.'
Is It Possible To GROW Planes And Vehicles?
'These are your rudimentary seed packages...'
Guard Dog Robot Security Check
'We still use people at the main gates, but here it's an automated sentry.'
Sheepskin Parchment Helped Medieval Lawyers Prevent Fraud
'The single sheet he held, and even the words and signatures upon it, were all integral parts of a single giant molecule...'
Space 'Hurricane' Has Been Seen
'... it was the biggest of the four hundred odd storms raging in the Fifty Suns region.'
PR2 Fencing Robot Perfect For Kwisatz Haderach-in-training
'Now, we'll work on your timing. Let me see you catch that thing sinister.'
Sole Morphing Astronaut Boots - A New Pair Of Moon Boots?
'Itís an ideal device for kangarooing along in lunar gravity.'
Mice Gestate In Mechanical Womb
'... in the Decanting Room, the newly-unbottled babes uttered their first yell of horror and amazement.'
3rd Century BC Gold Bee Is Just The Start
Bees knees, I order you to freeze!
More SF in the News Stories
More Beyond Technovelgy science news stories