Resources

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Lance Kennedy
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Resources

Postby Lance Kennedy » Fri Nov 03, 2017 1:53 am

Reference : New Scientist, 28 October 2017, page 10

One of my optimistic ideas, based on the writing of the late economist, Prof. Julian Simon, is that the world has plenty of resources. Simon once said : " The only resource in short supply is human ingenuity."

The reference above refers to a new method of uncovering resources. The mining of minerals is often stopped, not because of running out of ore, but because a seam goes too far underground, and the mine floods. A lot of mines are flooded, but contain lots more mineral ores, out of reach. But a group is now reworking a flooded pit in Devon, England, using mining robots that operate underwater. The next step is robots that can operate deep underground, in flooded mines. This will (according to the article) double the exploitable reserves of a number of resources.

I well recall arguing with pessimists on another forum about peak oil. Scientific American said that peak oil would strike in 2013, and be followed by a massive increase in oil price every year. It never happened, because of technological advances in extracting oil. In fact, oil is now quite cheap.

I predict this kind of thing will continue to happen, and the pessimists who predict resource depletion disaster will remain disappointed.

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Re: Resources

Postby bobbo_the_Pragmatist » Fri Nov 03, 2017 4:39 am

Do you think Moore's Law for computing power coming to an end is also faulty in view of the "Law of Baseless Optimism"?
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Re: Resources

Postby Gord » Fri Nov 03, 2017 8:11 am

Lance Kennedy wrote:I predict this kind of thing will continue to happen, and the pessimists who predict resource depletion disaster will remain disappointed.

I predict resource depletion disasters, but I'm never disappointed when I'm wrong. It's hard to be disappointed when the world doesn't run out of gummy bears like I predicted it would! I think you should change that last word to "incorrect".
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Re: Resources

Postby ElectricMonk » Fri Nov 03, 2017 8:19 am

bobbo_the_Pragmatist wrote:Do you think Moore's Law for computing power coming to an end is also faulty in view of the "Law of Baseless Optimism"?


The demise of Moore's Law has been predicted many times.
But what it says more generally is that every two years we get double the processing power for the same price. This need not be achieved by making circuits smaller and smaller - it can also be done by parallelizing the same circuits more and more.
Currently, we have the equivalent of millions of supercomputers in the form of billions of smartphones running idle most of the time. We are also moving towards computing clusters accessed via the web and away from desktop machines.
These are trends which will continue to allow us to reduce the cost of computing further and further.
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2. Anything that's invented between when you’re fifteen and thirty-five is new and exciting and revolutionary and you can probably get a career in it.
3. Anything invented after you're thirty-five is against the natural order of things.
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Re: Resources

Postby ElectricMonk » Fri Nov 03, 2017 8:24 am

When it comes to discussions of resource depletion, I always like to mention the case of Napoleon's cutlery:
When the he Emperor of France dined with noble guests, they would eat with golden knives and forks - but he had a set made of aluminum, and unimaginable luxury, given how hard it was to make even small amounts of it.
Another example is, of course, the extraction from ammonium from the air via the Haber-Bosch-process, something that allowed Germany to continue WWI long after it's supplies for traditional gunpowder production had been cut off.

It is precisely when resources get scares that investments are made to find more or develop alternatives. There has never been a case where people said: "oh heck, we've run out of X, guess we will never be able to make something like Y ever again."
I've come up with a set of rules that describe our reactions to technologies:
Spoiler:
1. Anything that is in the world when you’re born is normal and ordinary and is just a natural part of the way the world works.
2. Anything that's invented between when you’re fifteen and thirty-five is new and exciting and revolutionary and you can probably get a career in it.
3. Anything invented after you're thirty-five is against the natural order of things.
- Douglas Adams

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Re: Resources

Postby Poodle » Fri Nov 03, 2017 9:02 am

Mammothburgers are difficult.

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Re: Resources

Postby ElectricMonk » Fri Nov 03, 2017 9:57 am

Poodle wrote:Mammothburgers are difficult.


true, but Maggotburgers taste just the same
- like chicken.
I've come up with a set of rules that describe our reactions to technologies:
Spoiler:
1. Anything that is in the world when you’re born is normal and ordinary and is just a natural part of the way the world works.
2. Anything that's invented between when you’re fifteen and thirty-five is new and exciting and revolutionary and you can probably get a career in it.
3. Anything invented after you're thirty-five is against the natural order of things.
- Douglas Adams

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Re: Resources

Postby Gawdzilla Sama » Fri Nov 03, 2017 10:52 am

ElectricMonk wrote:
Poodle wrote:Mammothburgers are difficult.


true, but Maggotburgers taste just the same
- like chicken.

Once upon a time they would have tasted like me.
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Re: Resources

Postby Lance Kennedy » Fri Nov 03, 2017 6:45 pm

Mammothburgers raise another point. Modern greenies constantly talk about the need to use only renewable resources. But the truth is that there has NEVER been a case of a non renewable resource running out, while renewables, like mammoths, have run out so many times.

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Re: Resources

Postby Poodle » Fri Nov 03, 2017 9:42 pm

I don't think they've ever run out. It's more a case of striding slowly and majestically away from the situation.

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Re: Resources

Postby bobbo_the_Pragmatist » Fri Nov 03, 2017 9:52 pm

Lance Kennedy wrote:Mammothburgers raise another point. Modern greenies constantly talk about the need to use only renewable resources. But the truth is that there has NEVER been a case of a non renewable resource running out, while renewables, like mammoths, have run out so many times.

Interesting to examine that. I first thought of water.......potable water/desertification. Does water at the North Pole counter that? The need to move to where the resource is??

Then there is I think the case of Helium? Once discovered and used.......doesn't it dissipate into space or something like that? Certainly a resource that will be lost?.........unless we can make it in a particle accelerator or something?

I keep reading that rare minerals are a limiting factor to how much battery power is needed to convert to electric cars...then I read about new sources found....and back and forth.

As to the use of robots to mine underwater.......just saw a lauded bridge built in Belgium using an "industrial scale three D printer" and they showed a printer extruding a truss reinforce bridge structure over some river. Lauded as the first such 3D application and the fact that it would do away with the death of construction workers. You know.... that makes sense...... no work place injuries IF THERE ARE NO JOBS. That news item might have been on Russia Today. Ha, ha.........dirtty commies want our jobs!!!

Is a resource still "available" if it is too expensive to access?
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Re: Resources

Postby Lance Kennedy » Fri Nov 03, 2017 10:27 pm

To Bobbo

On helium.

Helium does not dissipate into space in any time period meaningful to humans. (Millions of years do not matter.) Instead, it becomes part of the atmosphere. Currently, helium makes up roughly one part per million of the atmosphere. It can be extracted from air, but at a cost much greater than the current system of extracting it from certain natural gases.


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