Asteroid Mining

Reaching out to change our world

The Wrong Path

Politicians are driving us down the wrong path. It’s a path that is totally unsustsainable. It’s a path that will ultimately fail. When it does, it will be catastrophic for the global economy and wildernesses that still remain, scarred by mankind but largely intact. It’s a path driven by greed. It’s a path that the climate change scientists never advocated. What is this path? It’s turning from fossil fuel to metallic fuels such as lithium, cobalt and nickel!

The Earth simply doesn’t have those kinds of metals in sufficient concentrations to meet the demand. Not that battery technology can solve climate change anyway! Batteries are merely carriers of energy as anyone whose done my courses would know. (Refer As such they can store electrical energy (another carrier of energy) from sources made by fossil fuels, nuclear power or renewable energy sources such as hydro, wind, solar or geothermal etc., etc.. Batteries are merely being developed to combat localised air pollution because the chemicals that are used to make them, as Vaclav Smil points out, when mined, add up to as much CO2 emissions as the entire lifepan of the vehicles they inhabit! In other words you might as well have stuck to fossil fuels. Even if they are more efficient, the means by which you obtain the final product isn’t net zero, even if the banking community whom fund it want to claim so!

Currently metals needed for this kind of technology come from recycling and mining. The mining investment currently in 2023 is about 3.5% per year. In order to meet the global demand that stupid politicians want we’d need 4000 times this amount up to 7000 times if we were really serious! That’s to replace the entire fossil fuel cars in the world! That’s unlikely to happen. It’s also impossible. There’s simply not enough of these materials in concentrated locations to make it a good venture ecologically.

This is a problem because like all Rare Earth Elements (think Tantalum, Tungsten and Tin) many of these elements used in batteries are not ‘rare’ but spread out. That means miners have to wreck vast amounts of forest to get to them, and do so in a way that makes it inexpensive. The way they do that now is to convert deforested land into poor quality soil, short-term, and grow animal fodder or create animal pasture land. This land is then promoted by the investors as ‘green’ projects, but actually it’s just a rip off. It kills thousands of creatures, destroys unknown fauna and flora that might have been useful once we discovered it, and leads to local inhabitants ending up as prostitutes in local city slums. (Exactly what happens also with fossil fuels in the Niger Delta.) The farming land eventually declines due to the soil not being suitable. At that point they add fertilizers and start sterlising pests around the area. This produces poor quality food with toxic elements!

The ores are also a problem to our health and the environment. To obtain 1 gram of gold we’re digging up 1 tonne of rock. To get 15 kg of copper we’re digging up 1 tonne of rock. And so on… It gets worse with rarer metals such as platinum or tantalum etc. This poor conversion rate from rock (ore) mined to actual metal also has a load of acids and poisons such as cyanides associated with it. If not properly contained these leak in the local environment. Bauxite mines for example that make aluminium create blue baby disease. Many mines in more developed areas can be well monitored. This means higher costs due to regulation. Meanwhile other mines in Africa use slave labour and child labour. They don’t worry about pollution. They often use North Koreans who have escaped to China and sent there as slaves! They are guarded by Wagner Group or Chinese equivalents. The metals they obtain are sent back to China and Russia to help their elites get wealthy and are often turned in to weapons. Some of these will end up in Ukraine and other conflict zones around the world.

The Right Path: Could asteroid mining be the solution?

What if we could harvest all our metals from asteroids? Many fly by, so we could capture them. In the longer term we could travel to the asteroid belt and obtain unlimited resources there! We know they contain lots of materials and they are easier to get at as the gravity is less than a planet. It seems like an ideal solution. However, it’s not that easy!

Barriers to Minnig the Asteroid Belt

There are a number of very problematic barriers to mining asteroids in the asteroid belt. The first one is perhaps the greatest of all problems: gravity. Many writers have concluded that the costs are prohibitive. Space X payload to mars is $5357 USD per kg (2020 prices). Thus a single half-tonne drilling rig cost to Mars (the asteroid belt is further) is the same budget as a small mining company for one year.

Power is another problem. The ISS has 35000 square feet of solar arrays have a power rating of 120 kW. A drill for mining needs a similar sized power plant. There’s less sunlight in the asteroid belt than here around Earth.

Bringing back material is more costly. The Hayabusa2 satellite spent 6 years and $157 million USD recovering 1 gram of material of an asteroid and returning it to earth in 1 month. However this was an expedition and we must keep in mind that it isn’t relevant to our discussion. I mention it to knock out the suggestion that this is a valid argument against asteroid mining. It’s comparing a tomato from Mexico in 1500 with a modern Italian tomato. They’re not the same thing.

Water is needed for mining. The moon has 100 parts per million. This is one quarter lower than the Earth (412 ppm). Copper costs $4500 per metric tonne to refine and has an average ore grade of 6000 ppm. Platinum and gold though are much higher concentrations in asteroids than on Earth. This was found on Psyche16 by albedo measurements. (This is a measure of reflectiveness.)

Capturing Fly-bys

On Earth we can track nearly anything larger than 10 cm. I say nearly because black carbon comets might not be trackable until very late on! However, assuming they are rare, we’ll stick to what we can track. The smallest asteroid we tracked so far I believe is 2015 TC25 which is about 2 metres across. As it gets closer to Earth we obtain better data, and more accurate estimates of its size, shape and orbital path. Orbital parameters that matter in tracking these include: (a) semi major axis diameter (i) plane / inclination and (e) eccentricity. These three: a, i and e help to calcuate the delta V or change in velocity, mass and transportation costs. They include longitude, periapsis, and can help determine the time and date of launch and the burn time. The asteroid mining company will want to encourage a very efficient, low cost launch, to optimise profits by reducing costs! Get it wrong and they chase the asteroid target wasting energy!

Asteroids come in three main types: C – Carbonaceous (clay and water) S – Silicates (silicon like sand) and M – Metals usually heavier ones! Using telescopes it’s possible to find out how reflective they are and use that to determine the type of asteroid. Most are thought to be C-types!

Having done this we now know two things: we know how to intercept the asteroid and what type of mining equipment will be required. This means we can now work on Delta-V. This is determined by the rocket equation but it could equally apply to laser powered sails. Looking at the proximity of NEO and LEO resources and Delta V means that any asteroid mining base needs to placed above 4 km/s according to the blog diagram derived from the JPL and the Union of Concerned Scientists.


Note this is just an example of where to put your base. It allows you to target many different asteroids and pick them as you go. Each launch will be bespoke to the asteroid targetted.

Let’s not rule out the Asteroid Belt!

Despite all those barriers to the asteroid belt new ways to get to the asteroid belt will reduce the biggest hurdle. That new way will be Directed Energy beams from Space based Solar Power. This is why we need to work hard on this to start with. Then we can send wafer thin prospector robots to the asteroid belt in days and weeks rather than months or years! This is well argued by Professor Lubin at the University of California & Santa Barbara.

This laser sail technology once it becomes technically feasible and relatively easy, would be like the railways were to Great Britain in the 19th century. It would open up the solar system as a new empire! However that empire won’t have humans in it. It will probably have artificial intelligent robots capable of determining what to do and when given their internal programming aims and learned skillset.

Once you have your asteriod you have to work out what you will do to extract and bring the resources back to Earth. The Asteroid Mining Corporation led by Mitch Hunter-Scullion seems to have some of the best ideas so far. This is something we’ll explore in my film STAR GAZER if we can obtain the funding.

Market Reactions & Future speculation

The price of a metal commodity is based on demand and supply. To justify mining any asteroid for any metal a high price of a scarce metal would be best. Investors will invest becasue they know that there’s profits to be made. That will require one decade of high costs at least. That is unheard of currently in the metals industry because of human ingenuity.

Let’s say the price of platinum goes up. People will start to recycle it. This will bring the cost down a bit. Miners on Earth will look for more deposits that were not viable at the lower prices. However, as with any form of mining the biggest problem is the price of energy. If you need to dig deeper, or dig more, and extract and refine poorer quality ore you have to do more work. More work means more energy, more chemicals and thus higher costs. Although we read some analyists saying that the world mines three times more platinum that it did in the early 1970s and the prices haven’t changed much once adjusted for inflation, the fact is that cannot last! It’s simply impossible because oil prices must rise eventually, as will gas prices, not due to war or shortages, but due to ever increasing costs to extract them! Since there’s been no new major finds since 1967 we will hit a plateau where energy return on investment of energy simply prevents us from business as usual. Some people will say but mining isn’t done by oil or gas, it’s often done by electricity. That makes no difference because electricity prices are based on the base load fuel. That is the fuel that we go to mainly for our electricity supply. That is currently mostly gas. If gas prices rise mining costs using electricity will rise. If the energy supplied to the mine comes from oil (as in many African states) the cost is related to oil. If it comes from coal then the cost is related to coal. Coal often is related to oil prices as oil is used in the form of diesel to power much of transportation! Using battery driven vehicles is possible, but less efficient. It’s due to energy density: oil is packed with energy, highly portable and low weight. Batteries are getting better but are good for vehicles but not larger machines. It’s the same problem with powering a large jumbo jet sized aircraft using batteries. You need three times the weight of what the aircraft could carry to get it aloft!

There are of course some happy souls out there that think we’ll all have fusion power soon. Some say we mine Helium-3 on the moon. Whoopie. Where are all these nuclear fusion reactors that are commerically viable? Probably as always another 15 years away. Time waits for no man.

Another view is that once infrastrucutre is set up in space then the prices of asteroid mined metals will be considerably more but we’ll pay a lot less to get into space. This will make the profits higher. I have no idea if this suggestion is even true! What I do know is that costs tend to rise over time and the value of money tends to diminish. Physically though a better argument for asteroid mining is due to the nature of the asteroids themselves.

The advantage of mining asteroids is that they are collections of rocks in many cases that can be gripped by a claw and pulled apart. One can also refine materials such as titanium much easier in space due to the lack of oxygen, and with no associated pollution costs.

One major threat to asteroid mining is that many nations think the seabed is a great source. Look at al those Chinese pop-up artificial islands in the South China Sea. They are military bases but they are also often mining camps that mine the seafloor. Recently though this looks like a quick fire way to kill unknown life on the seabed. Since we don’t know what that life does for the plankton and algae that provide us with oxygen, we are surely bound by the precautionary principle to consider a ban on that activity as soon as possible. All nations must try to protect the seafloor and only use what is viable and safe after sufficient experiment and observation.

Start up costs are going to be very high regardless of flying to the asteroid belt or grabbing onto a fly-by NEO. All corporations have to raise intial funds, so this isn’t a big deal when one places it in context. If one gets a 100 metre asteroid with 5% platinum or gold, then it’s worth trillions or even quadrillions if it is iron.

Often what we predict now never comes true because we don’t have the foresight. For example, let’s take Richard Trevithick in Camborne, Cornwall 1801, who builds a steam engine that has a high pressure boiler and is able to carry two men plus a load up Camborne Hill. This is a remarkable moment in history, often overlooked by the establishment, perhaps because Trevithick was a Cornishman and not a rich man. He was illiterate! Yet he learned about machinery and worked with William Murdoch the engineer who invented a steam carriage and was the first person to light his home by gas! (His house still stands and is never seen by many tourists.) From that humble beginning on Christmas Eve 1801 one could have concluded then that this has no future! I mean it clearly looks expensive to build. It needs loads of coal. What possible benefit would it be? It needed huge amounts of investment!

Trevithick would die a pauper. However, his invention was profound. It built upon the first beam engines. It took that idea and turned it into an automotive – no need for a horse! It is thus the foundation moment of the industrial revolution along with Ironbridge and the mechanisation and programming of looms. There’s no way one could have foreseen this invention changing the world. It even altered how time was measured. In the UK time was standardised due to railway timetables requiring standard time! It changed the amount of time taken to get from A to B. It allowed holiday travel. Food could be transported fresh to cities, changing the way fisheries and farms operated. It opened up a global market via steamships! Asteroid mining might have a similar start because humans tend to repeat their mistakes.

Likewise we cannot have much idea of how asteroid mining and the technology that goes with it will develop. Will asteroid robots travel rapidly to the asteroid belt driven by laser sails via energy from space based solar power and nuclear power on Earth? What will happen as this material enters the market? Will it force the price down? Or will the prices go up (counter-intuitive but a possibility if miners are given subsidies from asteroid mining profits to create sustainable lifestyles.) How will it affect Artificial Intelligence? It’s robots will require to be autonomous due to distances involved! Will conflict over resources break out in space? Will it ever happen? Who are the chief people behind it?

Do you like this topic? Want to know more?

We want to make a film about this and many other ideas I’ve seen here on the Living Universe Foundation. Making movies takes money and assistance.

If you are interested in funding our film about asteroid mining contact me

Financing the Future and Space based Solar Power

Space Solar power is the future but the financiers have other priorities. How will we get them to invest in long term space technology?

By John M Clarkson BA(Hons) MSc

Space based Solar Power is closer than we currently think. The time line is shortening as payload costs tumble with the development of privately owned rocket companies. The Chinese have set up a city to develop Space based Solar Power in order to solve their coal shortage, especially important after the Philippines decided no longer to sell them coal. Who will win the race? The West or the East? Finances are at the heart of this problem as much as cheaper rocket payload costs.

Energy from Outer Space – A Course about Space Solar Power – available now on Udemy at a reduced price

I’ve created a course on the subject of SSP which I hope people will take and enjoy. It’s available at by clicking here: SPACE SOLAR POWER COURSE

We’ve looked already at Space based solar Power in my Blogs here on the LUF, however, by writing a course on it, and working on my film (still in production) called ‘Valery Danko Discovers Energy from Space’ we inadvertently stumbled across another interesting subject: financing.

It’s not covered much in our course, though we do look at some interesting versions of it. However, what we found was even more interesting. It’s scandalous and goes to the very heart of the future of planet earth.

The Domesticated Human Economy

The world you see is not as we are told it is. We are told that we should run businesses and pay our tax. That the tax is collected and used by the representative (NB.) governments ‘we the people’ elect. This applies to any nation that actually has liberal-democracy in a sense of free and fair elections. That the system is that government shouldn’t interfere with the economy too much. That all will be well as long as we allow the ‘hidden hand’ to take action.

We are also made aware of, but never get any sense that anyone ever listened to him, Adam Smith, who in 1776 criticised ‘rent economies’. That is where unproductive assets that don’t employ people or generate products that help the masses, but simply suck money from them become a dominant means to make wealth. This would include land owned by the Duke of Westminster (by right of birth or inheritance) or buildings bought by the Reuben brothers to rent to the H M Inland Revenue (the tax collecting authority in the United Kingdom).

These warnings are ignored because our current economy rewards and supports asset owners, rent economies, and dissuades invention and investment in manufacturing. Space X, Virgin Space and Blue Origin are exceptions not the rule. Most banks merely shunt money around in a circle, printing money automatically as they loan it to businesses and people. Many people are buying assets such as homes. They do invest in companies, but not nearly enough to stimulate economic growth. Instead they are asset based rent economy supporters and that means land and property is valued above creating space technology companies every time!

When economies fail, those who are unable to pay back are left homeless, or lose their business properties, and soon the banks own all the assets. This is exactly what we ought not to be allowing, because it is a ‘rent economy’.

The banks always win even if they go bust. In 2008/9 RBS was bought out by 50% or more by the UK government using a 19th century law. Some banks seem to have gone out of their way to suck up defenceless asset owners businesses, those not rich enough to fight back. This involved forgery of documents, fraud and re-writing telephone transcript records!

What has this all to do with the Living Universe Foundation? It’s vital to understand the kind of economic system we live in order to know if anything will ever happen over the development of space technology.

What is the solution to a mature rent economy? Well that’s called Georgism, and is the idea that all taxes should be replaced by a land tax. With some extra rules such as rent caps and mortgage caps, and using the single land tax to pay everyone a Universal Basic Income, we can build a better future. With the growth of Artificial Intelligence (AI) and robots Elon Musk even said that this will be a necessity. Well, the only way to fund it will be via Georgism. The richest people will resist this as it hits them the hardest, especially the entrenched elites e.g. Prince Charles.

In bringing such a system into place one would immediately stop the millions that never flow into the tax system because they are sent abroad to tax havens. This tax which is currently lost is vital to the future. We don’t know exact numbers but it could be billions of pounds sterling per year (we’ll never know) to provide things like free health care for all (as in the UK) without privatisation of healthcare (which sadly has been introduced into the UK from the USA at huge costs – namely 150,000 dead from poor covid management – the blame can be firmly placed at Jeremy Hunt MP and his Conservative Party’s door). The sad fact is the major thing you’ll pay in your life is tax, because the asset owning classes have made sure they never will. Why is that?

The Wild Banker Warlord Economy

Why won’t we ‘ever know?’ And why will the asset class holding elite make sure you’ll always pay your taxes and they never will? Surely everything is recorded? Incorrect. The City of London is a Secrecy Jurisdiction. This means nothing can be reported. Occasionally though the secrecy is lost e.g. Pandora Papers, the Panama Papers etc. This reveals a spiders web of disgusting malevolence by the elites – who by the way hardly ever pay tax – and the intrigue that occurs in the City of London.

The City of London is the hub of the problem, which is also behind the destruction of our planet, using its many former tax havens to disguise flows of money around the world merely to invest in illegal land clearances, deforestation, child slave labour mining (e.g. cobalt, lithium etc used to make batteries) and oil, gas and coal extraction. There are crime syndicates and mafia involved, along with drug cartels spanning the world! There’s a whole host of Eastern European and poorer nations prostitution and vice rackets attached. Every nasty thing you can think of from arms sales to paedophiles (remember Jeffry Epstein) is involved in this scurrilous tale of immorality, condoned by the law makers in the UK for centuries!

In my film: ‘The World Stripped Bare’ we’ll take an saucy and entertaining look at this phenomena.

The World Stripped Bare Trailer (2021)

The World Stripped Bare Trailer (2021) Copyright All Rights Reserved Perimetr Films

How should we classify what is legal in the financial world and how this affects the growth of humans into space? These are fundamental questions to explore. Here I’ll provide a few ideas.

Laws do not make things moral or right. Everyone has heard the ‘law is an ass’. The US broke away from Britain’s laws not because of the Tea tax that involved the East India Company in Boston Harbour. Actually the reason was far better than that! It was because the founding fathers wanted an empire. The Act of Proclamation 1762 prohibited expansion west to prevent another war with France or further wars with Spain, and to some extent a feeling that the native tribes would be too difficult to deal with! The British government were simply not prepared to risk lives and resources in western expansion having fought a nasty war with France to protect its citizens in the 13 colonies of America. That’s why they needed a tax contribution, which was by the way, very small compared with the taxes that the Founding Fathers applied to pay for the cruel war against the British (where unlike in the film Patriot starring Mel Gibson most of the major atrocities were carried out by the US forces e.g. the long march into Canada where women and children died in the snow. This led to the formation of Canada and an anti- US sentiment by Canadians which came to a head in the War of 1812, when the US tried to invade Canada and got a bloody nose followed by 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue being burned down by British Admirals. The US President had to leave in a hurry, and the British commanders ate the President’s dinner and set the slaves free – the British having already outlawed slavery to some extent.)

In our film we examine how tradition and laws or lack of them have allowed the City of London – the Square Mile – to become a centre of a vast financial empire that is largely behind much of the environmental problems we are suffering now. This leads me onto the fact that is even more concerning.

Will the Warlord’s invest in SSP?

Will the City of London and the banks in the USA they are connected to have what it takes to invest in a long-term space technologies that appear to have no value right now? That’s where most people will say that is where government must step in. However, each time a disaster happens we know that governments essentially lose the ability to keep borrowing money from the future.

One chink of light is that bankers know all about commodities. They make good business from them. Think about the recent pandemic and the inflation it has caused as governments pumped money in and closed down oil, gas and coal production, only to find out that commodity traders have obtained (been paid by the production companies) to hold these vital energy stocks. Now they are required they release them to make a profit on the fact they rented out storage facilities and ships to hold them over the pandemic period. How much better would it be to have Space based Solar Power on tap than rely on dodgy commodity traders? It’s looking like a feasible investment with a 4:1 EROIE.

There is however, a flaw in this argument. Increasingly commodity traders are diversifying into buying up land, mainly rainforests to obtain Rare Earth Elements. These REEs are not rare, but spread out. Vast amounts of land have to be accessed. That means major deforestation in places rich in them e.g. D R Congo. Here they get cheap slave labour. Why then invest in somewhere expensive to make energy, when one can wreck the planet Earth with lithium and cobalt pollution to make a Renewable Electric Energy Economy? (see my course on the Future of Energy.) What will dissuade them when they are short-term greedy thinkers who want their money back as soon as possible?

[On a side note it is interesting to know that the assassination of JFK may have been connected to the death of the UN ambassador and his role in the Katanga War. This was a place south of the DR Congo rich in minerals, particularly REEs and the British financial sector and Belgian government were highly placed to take advantage of them if they could make sure that their men in power won that war. It appears that this and the fact that JFK tried to tax the Eurodollar trade (nothing to do with modern Euro currency) in July 1963 may have caused the CIA to consider eliminating him purely for self-interested reasons due to their connections to the ruling elites in London and New York. By November JFK had been shot dead allegedly by a lone gunman, who had connections to the CIA. It was well-known that the CIA had an agenda the opposed JFK but was supported by Johnson. This is not a conspiracy theory but is founded in facts established after the Warren Commission.]

Tentative Conclusion

If commodity traders and banks are into asset buying then where is the money to invest in the space industry? Can they magic it out of thin air as prices rises, taxes reduce, the wealthy send their money offshore to invest in land, property, assets and commodities, and less into home grown production industry or design? What happens when the AI revolution hits? Meanwhile the Chinese giant is now awake and running a capitalist system that forces them to hold onto power using a forever growth model? Will the West fall behind? If the West does fall behind what will happen next? Or will the City of London with its 320 to 800 year history, and US banking system with its 246 year history, be able to pluck victory from the edge of climate change chaos and energy crisis disaster? We can however hope that visionaries will emerge. Hopefully we here at the LUF can be those visionaries.


The Future of Energy – udemy Course

Energy from Outer Space – udemy Course

Link Roundup

Intersection of nuclear and H2 –

Solar Desalinization –

Nanotechnology –[0]=AT18DVc29OwMote4ySVPQ2GZFBnakX01Rr845z-FgXS9-vgwN-AGWAtbL62zqIP6ITN6wNtfl3Qc1UKKLH7Y-TPfe_LDejZcyZnx5icymYgQCaQoLJJPsI7F01cUObBoF4RxN3tGtesLYSUyfsaSVEq5M5OrW5bt9N7un5mE5jJ3_ziO0HQv3YlVISGc_hLELT551VeQdAUyHn7FzM3X

Buy SolarEdge Technologies (SEDG) up to $315.00

It has been several months since I last found a renewable company I’d be interested in investing in. Recently SEDG, burst above its 200 day moving average, indicating a strong uptrend. At the same time, the RSI indicates room to run. I’m recommending SEDG up to $315.00.

SEDG manufactures and distributes the inverters (and other equipment/services) that convert DC electric current from Photovoltaic cells into AC current, ready for the grid. This segment is less subject to the high volume, low margin environment of the actual PV cells and is less of an R&D arms race. It is also much less capital intensive. Thus, SEDG is sporting attractive margins on its products.

The company is showing good growth on both the top and bottom lines. What I really like is they produce a lot of Free Cash Flow as a percentage of revenue. This indicates a lucrative product but also conservative accounting practices. The recent chart with 50 and 200 day moving averages as well as RSI is below.

Devour your prey raptors!

The Fundamental Resources of Civilization

Civilization is a human construct, taking vast amounts of energy and time from millions, even billions of people around the world.  Civilization would not exist without those people, so there must be specific things that humans bring to the table of the universe in order to transform a raw landscape with physical objects, energy and natural laws into something that can be called a “civilization”.  This essay is an attempt to explore those things that only humans in our experience have ever brought into this universe in abundance.

There are four major resources that are created of, by and for the human mind, body and soul.  By soul I do not mean spirit, which would get into religious context that are beyond the scope in many ways but integral in one specific way.  Religions are passed from person to person and down from generation to generation in the form of stories, ideas, concepts.  Whatever the language, whatever the medium, it is the story that is told that we want to focus on here.  It’s the information, the data.  It can be measured, either in the number of words in a book, the number of pages in a manuscript, the number of equations in a proof, the number of rows in a database.  Data can be stored, it can be shared, recorded, the content can be reviewed, hashed, etc.  Whatever language is being used, it can tell the same story in different ways, from different perspectives, but it all comes down to what is being relayed.  In all of its forms, data is the soul of civilization, telling its story to its members and keeping that story alive as that civilization grows and changes over time.

The second primary resource of a civilization is productive capacity.  This is the ability to take an idea and turn it into an object or to use it to do useful work, taking the materials, energy and natural laws of the universe and turning it into something usable by humans for human needs and wants is truly magical.  Productive capacity is that spark of genius that takes a series of numbers and transforms it into a visual chart, or taking a natural law like heat and pressure and turning a gear shaft with fire and steam, that capacity can be measured.  It’s the efficiency of an engine, the value of an invention, the yield of a farm or the assembly quota of a manufacturing plant.  It is the ability to do work.  Not the value represented by the speed of an engine or the price of a crop or manufactured good, but the sheer transformation of raw materials into finished product, or the generation of ideas in the pure service economy.

Value is a third primary resource of civilization, and I’m talking about the core functions of money itself, those being a medium of exchange, a unit of account and a store of value.  Money can come on many different forms, and can be measured in many different ways, but all of these are aspects and facets of those core concepts.  Whether we are talking about fiat currency within a jurisdiction or country, or commodity money representing a specific amount of a material, our economic system depends on our willingness to accept that things have a certain value and that those things can be exchanged for goods and services.  Just like different languages can tell the same story in different ways, different currencies can hold and represent the same value in different ways.  Whether you are talking about the highest valuable national currency in the world with the New Zealand Dollar or one of the least valuable currency (not including the hyperinflated ones) like the Iranian Rial, we do accept that they each have a certain value that can be used to purchase goods and services around the world.

The final primary resource of civilization that only exists between creatures with a certain sized neural network within the brain is trust.  When one gives their word that they will do something and they follow through, they build that trust, and when someone breaks their word either through intent or forgetfulness, it degrades that trust.  We can even bypass some monetary value in a direct trading economy when we mutually agree that painting a picture is worth a certain number of dinners or a ring is worth a lifetime of memories.  Sure, the painting might be valued a certain amount if you look at it exclusively as canvass, ink and time, but our ability to strike a bargain and come to an agreement can change the value at will.

What got me thinking about all of this in the first place was the rise of Bitcoin and cryptocurrencies.  There will only ever be 21 million Bitcoin in the network once all of the coins are mined.  But each Bitcoin can be easily subdivided into 100 million decimal components, called Satoshis.  That final mining operation to bring all 21 million Bitcoins into circulation is projected to happen in 2078, and the expected population from the United Nations for that year is 10,637,573,903.  I know that this is just math, but if we take 21 million, multiply by 100 million, and then divide by that population figure, we get an equal distribution of 197,413.43 Satoshis per person in 2078.  That’s with all things being perfectly equal.

Bitcoin is a store of value, a unit of account and a medium of exchange.  The act of the exchange and the creation of the blocks in the blockchain is an act of productive capacity, turning raw data into a unit of work, moving money from this wallet to that wallet, and keeping it all on a shared and trusted ledger.  But it’s just one of a thousand different blockchains out there, each of which has a value, both in terms of market capitalization and individual unit worth in the open market.

Let’s get back to the analogy.  A resource in the real world can be abundant or scarce.  There are oceans of water on Earth, and there are also vast deserts.  Water is only one resource though.  The Sahara desert is composed of sand and dust that is carried across the Atlantic Ocean by the wind and drops in rain drops onto the Amazon Rainforest, providing a great deal of the nutrients and materials over time that the Rainforest needs to thrive.  Scientific investigations into what the global effects would be if efforts were put into turning the Sahara green again with plant life and rich forests showed that it would reduce this transfer of materials to South America and that the Amazon might end up losing much of the nutrient rich soil, becoming a less dense forest, even a savannah or desert given enough time.

Now think about the resources of civilization in those terms.  There are places in the world where data is very scarce, people don’t have access to education or any information, they are limited only to what stories are passed from generation to generation and the knowledge that they need to survive.  And there are great libraries that hold vast numbers of books, information filling every corner in quantities that no individual human could ever consume in a single lifetime.  There are places in the world where thousands, even millions, of people live with a revenue of less than a dollar per day, and then we have places where thousands of dollars are spent by a single person for a hotel stay for a single night, or millions of dollars pass from hand to hand in heartbeats or even shorter timelines within commodity trading markets.  There are fields of war where thousands of years have passed since anyone trusted anyone else, and other places where the struggle to survive means that all productive energy is spent just moving water from a river to a cache basin to do a single load of laundry for a single family.

What makes a civilization a “success”, and how can that be measured?  The reality is that it is the equality or inequality, the equity or the lack of equity in any or all of the resources of civilization that can be used to quantifiably measure the success of that civilization.  We don’t need each and every person in the population to have exactly 197,413.43 Satoshis in 2078, but we also don’t want to see a world where a small number of people control wallets holding 20.9 Million Bitcoin while the rest of the world fights over just 10,000,000 Satoshis.  Even given that as just part of the total economic picture, it still reflects the metaphor of Deserts, Oceans and Rainforests, with different resources available in different quantities in different places, and all resources needing to be put together deliberately for civilizations to thrive.

The physical resources we have available on Earth are limited, and they do create limits to what we are capable of doing on this planet.  But the Solar System is more than just Planet Earth, it includes all of the other planets, the asteroids, the comets and even the Sun itself.  And this system is only one of billions of star systems within one among billions of Galaxies in the Cosmos.  What we must do is use the resources of civilization, which are information and data, productive capacity, money/value and our willingness to trust ourselves and our fellow man to reach beyond just the Earth towards the stars.  And we must do so with equity and equality at the center of the story of humanity.

NewMars topic SPS in LEO

The are discussing multiple topics as usual. One recent addition is:

This past week a new topic has come into view.  The US Defense Department reported a successful test of a small solar panel riding in the X37b experimental space platform.  The background for this experiment was reported to be the Pentagon interest in providing power from space to remote military outposts, to reduce risks due to transport of petroleum in disputed territory.

The implications of this idea for civilian power service are under vigorous discussion.  There is a class of satellite orbits which ride the dawn/dusk border around the Earth.  These are a category of polar orbit that precesses at just the right rate to remain constantly in view of the Sun.  Delivery of power from one of these satellites is available for about 30 minutes at least once a day for every location on Earth.

In addition, it appears that service may be possible twice a day, because every location on Earth is exposed to dawn once a day, and dusk 12 hours later.  In addition, more than one satellite can ride in this orbit.  For example, a satellite every degree of latitude is possible. And finally, there is no reason why a particular satellite in LEO is limited to serving just one location.  There may be a practical limit, but service to 100 stations seems like a reasonable number to consider.

Thus, if all the possibilities are covered, we would have:

1)    3 30 minute charge opportunities per orbit (assuming 90 minute orbit)
2)    360 satellites so 1080 charge opportunities (assuming 1 customer per satellite)
3)    1080 * 100 or 10,800 charge opportunities assuming 100 customers per satellite

Each station should have enough energy storage capacity to hold a charge of 30 minutes for distribution over 24 hours.


Why Colonise Space?

Why colonise space? What will it lead to? Here I take you on a journey to Easter Island to understand why we need to colonise space. However I also note the dangers of colonising space, especially in a future where AI is dominant.

What will it lead to?

There are few places in the world quite like Easter Island or as it is known to the Polynesians, Rapa Nui. It is arguably the remotest place on Earth. It could be said that one is closer to cities when you are in the International Space Station (ISS) than when you are on Easter Island. It is famous for only one thing: the moai. These are the colossal stone statues of human faces that seem to be impossible to construct given the lack of timber on the island. However, did they do it?

Valery Danko, the Managing Director of Perimetr Films travelled to Easter Island in 2019. Initially we made a history film. However, at the same time evidence was collected about climate change, plastic pollution and the clear reliance on diesel oil based energy (though some solar was allowed, it was thought to ruin the character of the island). Clearly space based solar would be very suitable on Easter Island.

What is interesting about Easter Island is that like humans on planet earth as a whole, the people that originally inhabited it around 800 AD, were extremely successful economically. However, they devastated their environment. Thus, they lost the ability, due to their long time on this remote island, to flee from it. One could say it was a lack of knowledge! I suspect it was also a lack of palm trees to build their ships. Climate change may have had an impact on them also, as the decline seems to correspond with the Little Ice Age. Equally rat populations may have also prevented them from managing the tree harvest properly. Whatever the case, the bad situation was multi-causal and eventually the civilisation that had built the moai declined and was eventually enslaved by Europeans. (The film above we made is fascinating and I highly recommend it!)

Easter Island is a good example of Spaceship Earth. We should never forget we are essentially a spaceship. We float through space at an enormous speed, which we don’t even notice.

We desperately need to return to the moon and colonise it. Then we need to venture towards Mercury and disassemble it for materials. We need to use robots that can survive the harshness of space. They need to be artificially intelligent, able to reproduce themselves, survive the rigours of space and adapt to new and even more hostile conditions. They must be almost as good as humans at adaptation to conditions on Earth.

Once we have succeeded in this we can venture into the asteroid belt and to the moons of many planets that offer us a bountiful treasure of materials we can utilise for the betterment of human kind.

If we stay on planet Earth, and only go to the Moon or Mars for tourism, we’ll fail to survive as long as we can.

We need right now to build the best space defence systems available – which need to be solar powered. (See my previous blogs.) We need to clean up the debris orbiting our planet which we have turned into a tip.

Space debris 1957 to 2015

Taking mercury apart by using self-replicating robots will not be too difficult. However, another swarm of robots will need to build huge space factories that can convert this material into thin solar panels, space vehicles, and bring back rare elements that we lack on Earth and so on.

Also taking mercury apart gives us the materials to try to create a Dyson Sphere. We can then muster huge amounts solar energy, allowing our ships to venture beyond the solar system, deep into space.

How to Create a Dyson Sphere

Human problems are not generally insurmountable. Instead I believe most human problems are linked to 3 things:

Firstly we tend to over-populate and live in cluttered hostile environments.

Anything that produces more than it’s own number is going to grow exponentially. When you add that to a limited space you have a problem.

Maths is quite useful here. If you want to know how long it takes anything to grow over a time period you can use this trick:

Let’s say that the global population grows at 2% per year. If that is true then that means it doubles every 35 years. On a grand scale that’s not long – only half a human lifetime (of 70 years of age). That means they’ll need twice as much as what we have by the year 2090. Twice the food, twice the shelter, twice the water, twice the number of sewerage plants and twice the amount of energy.

The way to know the doubling time of any fixed growth rate is to divide it into 70 e.g. 70 divided by 2 = 35 years. If the growth rate is 7% per year then 70 divided by 7 = 10 years. (The growth rate does not have to be per year, it can be any time period as long as you have a percentage growth rate.)

A 100% growth rate per year would by 70 divided by 100 = 0.7 of a year.

Populations go completely crazy if confined to a cluttered and overcrowded environment. For example, mice placed in an experimental habitat, started off quite relaxed. However, with a few generations they were crazily competing over resources such as living space (lebensraum – where have I read that before?)

Mental health is a big priority now especially amongst the younger members of the British royal family. More and more people are seeing psychiatrists or therapists for help. The 2020 lockdowns due to covid-19 have not helped. However, fear of lockdown or loss of work due to lockdown is a real and present threat. People are losing their jobs to the policies that the governments are using to deal with it.

Population growth in cluttered spaces is thus a problem for the well-being of humanity over the longer term. It encourages future pandemics. We must therefore tackle with all urgency population growth and curtail urban growth in favour of village growth.

Secondly, we are wasting much of our talent because the economy works on the principle of satiating a need, a want, a desire, or a demand. These are what drive the global economy. Anything that cannot produce something that people want to buy is without an income and thus can quickly end up being overwhelmed by poverty. We are one pay check away from poverty in many cases. In the case of businessmen, or very rich people, who have lots of reserves, the inevitable can be delayed, but never put off entirely. Eventually one must find an income, even if it is only to pay the bills!

Such a system is based on using materials and destroying habitats largely unseen by us. The Planet of the Dead will be the epitaph of humankind if this economic system, however useful or better it is than other forms of production, is allowed to continue unchecked by effective enforcement of global environmental laws

Going into space though would allow humans to change their economic system to one of machine based Artificial Intelligence economics. With inexhaustible supplies of energy and materials humans would no longer need to work in factories, mine or go around chopping down forests. Instead they could work for the betterment of their villages, travel to places that they had never seen, enjoy their life rather than having to do some awful work that they hate, live, love and be merry, for life is short: who after all wishes to sit at a computer all day or work as a filing clerk? Who wants to protect the Prime Minister or the President from harm, when an Artificial Intelligence government could run the world efficiently? Who needs a democracy when artificial intelligence rules the world?

Thirdly, our current obsession with race, creed, religion, beliefs, ideologies, power and wealth, could be obliterated by placing artificial intelligence self-replicating machines in charge of politics or economics and do away with nation states altogether. In such a magnificent future Vladimir Putin would be viewed by the AI teachers of young humans as an example of a human dinosaur – that is a power mad, crazy who deserved to be terminated as soon as possible along with his supporters and oligarchs.

The solution though does not bode well. As artificial intelligence develops, it would eventually become superior to us. Once it can self-replicate without help from humans, and even change its own programming safety features, humans themselves would be seen as potential threat. Logic would dictate that such a system should eliminate its creator for fear of destruction. It follows the natural progress of human history: white Europeans with superior technological development conquered inferior developed regions and either enslaved them or carried out genocide in order to obtain their resources. The AI leaders would have no reason to kill us other than a fear of our unreliable, illogical behaviour. We are perhaps the most violent creature on planet earth given our firepower. Thus AI leaders would quickly assess us as a threat to their existence, and with cold logical terminate all of us.

Luckily AI of the type I am imagining is probably 1000 years away if not more. If well-controlled AI government could solve the Easter Island scenario and lead mankind to a better, happier future. The idea of Skynet, in the Terminator films, is a military version of what I imagine for government of planet earth and space. Who needs Joe Biden if you’ve got SkyNet to run things?


The World Stripped Bare

by John Clarkson BA(Hons) MSc film producer and Sustainable Development Scientist and Writer

At Perimetr Films we’re going to make a film about how the financial world is killing our planet and preventing humanity from reaching our potential. That potential is essentially reaching the stars and surviving an apocalypse.

Nicholas Shaxson wrote an amazing book (Treasure Islands: the men who stole the world) and there was even a documentary about the subject of trust funds. It describes the financial spiders web of intrigue and corruption that means tax payers are paying huge sums, whilst the mega-wealthy elites go untaxed.

At the same time though governments are investing tax in military and anti-climate change technology that serves no purpose other than short term financial gain. In many ways we all ought to not pay tax, or use banks, because these very institutions are behind slowly destroying rain-forests, sterilising land using pesticides and artificial fertilisers, producing food that is less nutritious and in some cases heavily polluted by chemicals that are known carcinogens to humans. One cannot blame the rich from hiding some of their money away.

When mega-corporations do it, then use it to go into space, we have to consider the possibility that the space industry is now also contaminated by the same affliction: tax evasion, avoidance, using the system to reduce or eliminate tax. It is a major problem for all of us and particularly any future plans to inhabit the moon, add space solar power (see my previous posts) or develop a space-faring civilisation capable of utilising resources from the solar system.

We could solve most of climate change by simply going vegan. That would knock out a huge amount of GHG regardless of what the naysayers say! Better investment could take money used for oil and gas production and divert it to space solar power and geothermal energy. Instead corruption in high places, such as investment corporations, mostly in the City of London, with its special connection to the West Indies tax havens e.g. British Virgin Islands, Cayman Islands etc. have other plans. They go for short term profit from oil, gas and coal. They make it their mission. We only need some of these to make rocket fuel. Even that could be made artificially from a host of systems that are sustainable and completely carbon neutral. There’s no excuse for them. It is pure insatiable greed and it must be ended.

However, who is going to end it? The world’s leaders are all invested heavily in trust funds. Trust funds are the life blood of the global economy, providing in some cases, 90% of foreign investment. The individuals you think are in power are just puppets on an investment corporations string. They dance to their tune on a daily and hourly basis.

Many of these investment managers end up as head of tax authorities, who then do deals with companies such as British telecomm etc to lower their tax bill. The leaders you feel are adversaries are just part of a puppet show that creates good vs bad and leads to the nation state and terrorist anarchy we all see around us. Since COVID-19 the war in Ukraine, Syria and Yemen have largely disappeared from the news. It is now the USA vs China for a while, until Iran or some other media spectre is developed, like photographs that used to be developed in a dark room.

Valery Danko our star presenter and actress

Our film will be very entertaining, and will try to get the message to the masses in a saucy way, so that they remember it for a long time. A film that fails to titillate and entertain, will always do better than pure dry statistics. That is what we have learned from Hitler, Trump, Johnson and Putin.

Politicians in the UK are well-known for their jobs after office. They seem to always end up with a fortune, being paid millions per week for being an adviser; yet none have any qualifications to advise! What is being paid for here is connections to the global oligarchy.

Money is made from arms and harm. This is why governments and investors invest in human division. Military arms only sell while you have bogeymen to fight. Pharmaceuticals and medicines are massively developed during wars. When you can create opposition, the arms dealers cash in, the wars help to provide new experimental patients to work on. It’s a big win, win for the trust fund managers.

Trust funds are often heavily invested in by illegal drug cartels from South America. This is similar to the Opium trade the British Empire did during its heights in the 19th century. Illegal money from fraud, theft and drugs finds its way into every corner of the world of investments, with huge profits to be had by legitimate and illegitimate businesses who are invested correctly.

Why is there a war in Ukraine raging when it was agreed during the dissolution of the Soviet Union where the border was? Why have hundreds of thousands of Ukrainian people simply vanished? Why is America dying to fight a war with Iran? What stopped that fight? A virus! Covid 19 is a product of our unsustainable meat industry I firmly believe. It was found in Spanish sewers long before it became airborne as a viral infection from Wuhan. How did it get there? ( See Who is cashing in on this deal?

Why are we sleep walking away from our destiny in the stars and allowing the mega-rich to get richer and failing to organise the scientific elites to fight back?

Why are the media allowed to consistently tell lies using measures such as GDP and GNP that have no basis for measuring much more than what wealthy investors wish to know, whilst the rest of people cannot get free health care, even in the UK where the NHS is supposed to be free? What is happening to the worlds space development programmes now we have militarised space and privatised it? Who will make money from those businesses?

There is only one answer. This is not a conspiracy amongst elite investment trust fund management companies or banks. Instead it competition amongst a few ‘hub banks and investment corporations’ that specialise in trust funds and investment in general. You will also notice that major banks and investments corporations often rotate their CEO’s on a merry-go-round of jobs. Some people have the connections, background and education (Oxford and Cambridge) to be insiders. The others are outsiders. (It’s good to be an outsider, for one can shine light into dark places from outside, whereas the true darkness is always masked by artificial light when you are on the inside! Think about it.)

We need to wake up! We need to become politically active.

Space, Survival & Politics

Why we need scientists in politics if we want to become a space faring species.

by John M Clarkson BA(Hons) MSc

Humans are known for one thing on planet Earth if the rest of the creatures could talk. We are the ultimate plague species. Consider one great example. The Polynesian Triangle! As the Polynesians expanded they would take over islands, exhaust their resources and sail on to the next island.

Our film on Easter Island is being made right now (we filmed it on location in 2019) One point it makes is that ‘success’ can lead to disaster, and then a lesser success. Easter lsland was very successful, but eventually that success led to its decline and eventually its enslavement.

The planet we live on currently seems to be a human success. Poverty is generally down across the world, though this is highly debatable. Living standards are generally up. We have more access to technology than ever before. Even young men in impoverished parts of Africa have a mobile (cell) phone. Technology seems to be turning the tide against poverty. Yet there’s a nagging doubt that something is not quite right. Climate change, plastic pollution, micro-plastic pollution, destruction of habitats and air pollution are everywhere. They are not being solved. British ministers promise to stop plastic pollution being sent to developing nations, but nothing is done.

We need a solution to two things right now. One is energy from fossil fuels. Oil is after all the source of much urban air pollution and all plastic pollution. The other is resources. There’s also a need to address two threats to all life on Earth: super-volcanoes and of course comets and asteroids from space that are potential life killers.

We can do very little about super-volcanoes, other than develop underground farming systems, possibly involving mushrooms, but also utilising energy from geothermal to provide underground farming. This would allow humans to shelter for hundreds of years to survive volcanic eruptions. This will cost us money that no politician will provide, because politicians are poor decision makers who think in 5 year election cycles. Democracy and globalism are not good systems for long-term survival, even if my professors in university seemed to believe they were!

Energy we can solve using space solar power and geothermal energy. We don’t need nuclear reactors on Earth. We’d be better off building them in space. That way they’d be far away from us. Even fusion is unnecessary once space solar power and geothermal is sufficiently developed.

Space solar power could be, as suggested in my previous blog a perfect method for solar sail powered ships to glide around the solar system collecting minerals etc that we can use on earth. This kind of world would be a world of plenty, because the solar system has plenty of materials we can harvest. It’s virtually inexhaustible.

Using space solar as the means to deflect earth bound asteroids and comets is a viable solution for most situations. However, it is currently not being prioritised by governments who don’t really understand the issue. It’s not a matter of ‘if’ but ‘when’. The methods we use will not just rely on one kind of defence system. I suggest we start work on this problem immediately. There is no time to waste.

We need better leadership. However, what we observe daily instead is Elon Musk, Jeff Besoz, the Russians, Chinese and Virgin, all involved in space tourism! Today everyone is happy about he splashdown of the Dragon X capsule returning from the ISS. This is the story of humanity. Let’s focus on the wrong problems and deal with them. Let’s focus on BREXIT and Making American Great Again, but not worry about pandemics. Then COVID-19 turns up and the economy crashes. Why? Because our political leaders are not scientists. Instead we have rich men forcing themselves by the fact they have wealth and media status, into power. Be it Biden (whose son is involved in oil in Ukraine) or Trump (who thinks that there were British airports in 1775, and people are ‘dying who have never died before’). In the UK we have a Prime Minister who believed that paint could solve climate change and that building a garden bridge across the river Thames was a viable project, which he spent millions on! These kinds of imbeciles should never be given anything but a toilet brush and an pot to clean; but instead, due to wealth, the ability to inflame the rabble, clever spin, and ignorance amongst even the intelligent (I know someone who thinks Johnson is great, and is himself an Engineer!) they take over.

I think it is time that if we want a Living Universe, scientists need to start to become politicians. It may seem ridiculous, but if it does not happen soon, we will have a problem. Look at how well Germany is run! Yes, perhaps she makes mistakes, but at least hers are forgivable and often very humanistic (helping refugees for example).

If we want to solve our problems we need to do two things fast: quickly develop space technology that defends our planet and finds new resources; and secondly create a more sustainable civilisation on Earth, where people live simpler more harmonious lives, with nature. Where they work for the good of each other and not the greed of themselves. If we do that, we will have a better world.

One stumbling block will be the financial system. That’s a subject for another blog. A blog that will challenge you and what you think about your own contribution to the problems our planet faces.

We need a scientific meritocratic democracy, and we need it quickly.

Kevlar Tether for Phobos

In 2020, a member of the NewMars forum with the ID of “Void” initiated a discussion that has been continuing and evolving ever since. The post that started the sequence contained a simple speculation that it might be possible to deliver gas to the surface of Mars in a “bubble”.

The question led to a mathematical analysis by a member with a PhD in Aerospace Engineering, and the clear answer appears to be a definite NO, if the “bubble” is dropped from the altitude of Phobos with zero horizontal velocity with respect to the the surface of Mars.

The pull of Mars’ gravity, though less than that of Earth (38%) will ** still ** accelerate the bubble (ie, balloon) to a velocity significant enough to insure the object impacts on the surface, instead of floating as might have naively been imagined if the contents is Hydrogen.

However, taking the judgement of the PhD (GW Johnson) in stride, other members began considering the possibility of releasing the bubble at an altitude closer to the surface. That led to renewed discussion of tethers. It turns out that tethers have received some serious attention during the 20 years the NewMars forum has been available as a public service of the Mars Society. In particular, quotations from a web site/ blog by “Hop” show illustrations of various tethers that might be constructed, including one for Phobos.

The inspiration of the vision published by Hop led to work on a concept that might be implemented with Phobos as the anchor. The distance from Phobos to just above the surface of Mars is (about) 3700 miles (5955 km).

Since the Hop blog post suggests Kevlar as a material that might be strong enough for this application, a design is in development to make links of a chain of Kevlar thread. Kevlar thread is offered commercially on Earth in various grades and lengths. A #92 thread is 290 micrometers in diameter, and it can hold 25 pounds or just over 13 kilograms. This information can be (and is being) extended to the design of a chain of Kevlar thread links that would extend 3700 miles toward the surface of Mars.

It appears that a bubble/balloon released from the lowest rung of a Kevlar chain from Phobos would have a modest horizontal velocity with respect to the surface of Mars, and since vertical velocity would be zero at the time of release, a package would have a reasonable chance of survival. In particular, the possibility that a package could be buoyant (ie, filled with Hydrogen) is greater than zero. Testing at Mars, or calculations using CFD (Computation Fluid Dynamics) software may show one way or the other.

In any case, to see images of the CushionGuide intended to bear the compression load between links of the Phobos Tether, readers are welcome to visit the NewMars forum at: