Columns / Discourse / April 25, 2012

I’m flying, Jack…into space!

A new company backed by two Google billionaires, film director James Cameron and other space exploration proponents is aiming high in the hunt for natural resources — with mining asteroids the possible target. — The Wall Street Journal April 21, 2012

Some naysayers may balk, some balksayers may neigh, but I for one think it’s about time someone gathered up the balls, the brains and the billions of dollars to realize the dream that began with Atari’s Asteroids arcade game. Yes, we’ve sent men into orbit. Yes, we’ve landed men on the moon, but I say we haven’t truly conquered the final frontier until our brave spacefarers toil in asteroid mine-tunnels for less than minimum wage!

If successful, this venture could avert the impending iron and nickel scarcity that threatens the survival of the human race. Do you really want to live in a future without Total cereal? Even ignoring the iron we eat everyday, just imagine all those wrinkly clothes. Not that I personally iron my clothes, but there are people who do. And don’t even get me started on what you need nickel for. Please, don’t. All I can come up with is nickels.

Who knows, perhaps the asteroid is inhabited by a native tribe of blue people. Perhaps the spacecraft’s captain will drunkenly crash into an ice-comet causing the two most attractive crewmembers to make out right before one of them is tragically sucked out into the void. That would be good news for investor James Cameron, he could finally put onto film his long anticipated fantasy project “Avatar 2: Titanic 3-D in Space.”

One has to wonder just a little what’s going on in the minds of these Google billionaires. It’s probably somewhere along the lines of “Yeah, I’m pretty amazing. Google, Google, Google.” But even while they contemplate the amazingness of Google, they probably also consider the slightly diminished amazingness of planet Earth.

I mean, don’t get me wrong, Earth has some resources to its credit. You know, iron, nickel, silicon, there’s oodles of that stuff. There are also buildings to house Google’s computers, as well as people to sweep the floors of those buildings.

And yet, just one stoned, panic-filled night spent with Google will tell you: if asteroids are a risky investment, Earth is an even riskier. Global warming, nuclear holocaust and zombie apocalypse are just a few of the many dangers that face Earth every single day. What’s the worst thing that could happen to an asteroid? It could … float around a lot? Or, I suppose, Earth could float into it — but that’s not really the asteroid’s fault now is it?

James, Google, it looks the time has come for you to bid adieu to this insolvent planet. Send blockbusters! Keep in touch with Google+! Now get on that asteroid before Facebook and Michael Bay get there first!

Ben Lee

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