Thursday, May 26, 2016

Cell Phones and Science Fiction

News from home: This morning my teenage son openly wonders, "Isn't there a rare metal in cell phones?" I proceed to pick up my smartphone and google "rare earth metals in cell phones". We find an article put out by PBS (Public Broadcasting System) titled: "Where to Find Rare Earth Elements." I then take the liberty to read it aloud. I get about three-quarters of the way through and come across this paragraph about those in power's (I had written "our" here) insatiable appetite and search for rare earths:

"Many countries, including the U.S., Australia, India, Brazil, Vietnam, and Russia, are looking for new deposits of their own. Japanese scientists found large amounts of rare earth elements in mud at the bottom of the Pacific Ocean, and similar studies have shown they’re also in mud in Jamaica. In the far future, we could even turn to the Moon, which is unusually rich in rare earths."

He stops me, and with wide-eyed disgust says, "My god, it's like a horrible science fiction novel come true."

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