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Posted: 10/2/2011 2:09:17 PM EST
Okay, I have a scientific question for which I can't seem to find a ready answer.
This is for a science fiction novel I am writing...a sequel to one of the two I have for sale on Kindle right now.
Basically, I know and have known for a long time what minerals can be had by mining asteroids and moons and even gas giants...but what resources HAVE to be gleaned from a living planet (or once living planet) like Earth? Aside from an ecosphere and the DNA of whatever lives on the planet, what else that's valuable enough to exploit are you much more likely to find on a living world than on a lifeless one?
I would really appreciate if anyone has any ideas.
The only things I can come up with on my own are (possibly, depending on which theory of its formation is correct) fossil fuels.
Link Posted: 10/2/2011 2:12:15 PM EST
Food (critters, plants, etc)

Many kinds of useful organic matter (coal, oil, nat. gas)
Link Posted: 10/2/2011 2:17:16 PM EST
I think you nailed it with fossil fuels - coal and oil.

The only other biological artifacts of any value I can think of are chalk cliffs, limestone, and amber.

Link Posted: 10/2/2011 2:22:20 PM EST
Originally Posted By Dumpster_Baby:
I think you nailed it with fossil fuels - coal and oil.

The only other biological artifacts of any value I can think of are chalk cliffs, limestone, and amber.



Hmmm...limestone might be useful for some things. Don't know about amber, other than for decoration. But you gave me another idea...plant resins. Those are very valuable for some uses. Thanks.
Link Posted: 10/2/2011 2:25:35 PM EST
slaves.


Link Posted: 10/2/2011 2:30:46 PM EST

Originally Posted By RikWriter:

Basically, I know and have known for a long time what minerals can be had by mining asteroids and moons and even gas giants...but what resources HAVE to be gleaned from a living planet (or once living planet) like Earth?

The methods we use to obtain pure oxygen are nothing more than a purification of existing air. Easy to obtain oxygen in large amounts could be a resource.

You could fantasize a type of microorganism that metabolized valuable trace minerals into easily harvested concentrations, like on a sea floor.


Link Posted: 10/2/2011 2:59:38 PM EST

Originally Posted By RikWriter:
Originally Posted By Dumpster_Baby:
I think you nailed it with fossil fuels - coal and oil.

The only other biological artifacts of any value I can think of are chalk cliffs, limestone, and amber.



Hmmm...limestone might be useful for some things. Don't know about amber, other than for decoration. But you gave me another idea...plant resins. Those are very valuable for some uses. Thanks.

Limestone is the only way of which I am aware to make concrete.

It is unlikely you will find naturally occurring gemstones and diamond is not an exception (growth of the crystal that forms a natural diamond has unique requirements that you are unlikely to find outside of a tectonically active planet). Of course, non-naturally grown diamond is becoming more and more available and more viable (growth of diamond from sublimation is quite interesting and will bring the price of synthetic diamond way down if the production gets uncontrolled).

Wood as luxury building material.

Potable water in volume is something you are unlikely to find naturally occurring outside of an active biosphere (IMHO, contamination on a moon of Jupiter is quite likely, necessitating a complete water purification plant to produce potable water in any volume).

Just my two centavos.
Link Posted: 10/2/2011 3:07:38 PM EST
[Last Edit: 10/2/2011 3:10:36 PM EST by AZFats]
All sorts of biologically produced compounds for medicine and chemistry.
Originally Posted By RikWriter:
Okay, I have a scientific question for which I can't seem to find a ready answer.
This is for a science fiction novel I am writing...a sequel to one of the two I have for sale on Kindle right now.
Basically, I know and have known for a long time what minerals can be had by mining asteroids and moons and even gas giants...but what resources HAVE to be gleaned from a living planet (or once living planet) like Earth? Aside from an ecosphere and the DNA of whatever lives on the planet, what else that's valuable enough to exploit are you much more likely to find on a living world than on a lifeless one?
I would really appreciate if anyone has any ideas.
The only things I can come up with on my own are (possibly, depending on which theory of its formation is correct) fossil fuels
Link Posted: 10/2/2011 3:13:25 PM EST
As long as you have the basic elements which I'm pretty sure you can find out in space you make anything needed for life.
Link Posted: 10/2/2011 3:17:18 PM EST
Possibly Iron.

Supposedly the Iron ore that is mined today was precipitated out of the oceans during the great oxygen catastrophe when the bacterias in the ocean turned the atmosphere from carbon rich to oxygen rich.


Link Posted: 10/2/2011 3:24:18 PM EST

Originally Posted By Gripy:
As long as you have the basic elements which I'm pretty sure you can find out in space you make anything needed for life.

Power and the necessary facilities to convert one type of 'stuff' to another are not unlimited in any environment.
Link Posted: 10/2/2011 3:25:01 PM EST

Originally Posted By Weiseguy:
Possibly Iron.

Supposedly the Iron ore that is mined today was precipitated out of the oceans during the great oxygen catastrophe when the bacterias in the ocean turned the atmosphere from carbon rich to oxygen rich.



Hmm. . . meteorites are frequently found to be iron.
Link Posted: 10/2/2011 3:25:47 PM EST
Link Posted: 10/2/2011 3:45:14 PM EST
Think of it as an economic question. What can be produced in quantity, cheaply, inside the gravity well of a giant spinning rock covered in fungus that can't be produced as economically outside of that environment? More importantly, who would pay for those products and why?

Exotics/luxury items, especially those derived from plant or animal sources. That right there is your answer.

Food for example (not just protein concentrate or hydroponically grown organic ass-cucumbers; I'm talking caviar, dry-aged prime rib (not the moldy, rotting meat that gets airtime here ;)), champagne, single malt scotch, good Virginia tobacco and good Cuban cigars, fine coffee, gourmet chocolate, etc. etc. etc.). Aside from food, consider what Gibson guitar is doing, taking rare woods from their natural environment and selecting unique pieces to add value to. Also, consider pets, as it's kinda hard to get biodiversity and mass breeding operations in orbit, given the space premium involved and the consumption of natural resources. Don't forget DRUGS, psychoactive substances from cocaine to opium to tobacco to fucking catnip may potentially be more economically produced and collected planet-side.

Look at the demand-side of the equation as well, not just supply-side economics. What would someone working on the ass-end of an asteroid in the middle of the crotch-rot end of the galaxy be willing to pay out of pocket for? Executives may wish to line their offices in iridescent petrified wood taken from some smarmy little planet that no one has ever heard of. Luxury food items, as well as comfort food items from "home" may make up part of a luxury trade network. Don't forget electronic entertainment (I'm sure porn will always be on the cutting edge of technology), as well as chemical "assistance" - lots of folks will want an escape from reality.

Then there's the slaves too, yes. Hard to get green-slave girls to grow properly in space.

Really, that's probably about all Earth would be worth to an advanced alien species. Novel plant and animal life for biomedical purposes, as well as luxury foods, pets and slaves. Maybe a few psychoactive drugs. There's always the possibility that natives like us might make suitable slaves/farm animals/pets for some race out there that has better weapons than we do.
Link Posted: 10/2/2011 3:49:26 PM EST
Originally Posted By Fintan:
Think of it as an economic question. What can be produced in quantity, cheaply, inside the gravity well of a giant spinning rock covered in fungus that can't be produced as economically outside of that environment? More importantly, who would pay for those products and why?

Exotics/luxury items, especially those derived from plant or animal sources. That right there is your answer.

Food for example (not just protein concentrate or hydroponically grown organic ass-cucumbers; I'm talking caviar, dry-aged prime rib (not the moldy, rotting meat that gets airtime here ;)), champagne, single malt scotch, good Virginia tobacco and good Cuban cigars, fine coffee, gourmet chocolate, etc. etc. etc.). Aside from food, consider what Gibson guitar is doing, taking rare woods from their natural environment and selecting unique pieces to add value to. Also, consider pets, as it's kinda hard to get biodiversity and mass breeding operations in orbit, given the space premium involved and the consumption of natural resources. Don't forget DRUGS, psychoactive substances from cocaine to opium to tobacco to fucking catnip may potentially be more economically produced and collected planet-side.

Look at the demand-side of the equation as well, not just supply-side economics. What would someone working on the ass-end of an asteroid in the middle of the crotch-rot end of the galaxy be willing to pay out of pocket for? Executives may wish to line their offices in iridescent petrified wood taken from some smarmy little planet that no one has ever heard of. Luxury food items, as well as comfort food items from "home" may make up part of a luxury trade network. Don't forget electronic entertainment (I'm sure porn will always be on the cutting edge of technology), as well as chemical "assistance" - lots of folks will want an escape from reality.

Then there's the slaves too, yes. Hard to get green-slave girls to grow properly in space.

Really, that's probably about all Earth would be worth to an advanced alien species. Novel plant and animal life for biomedical purposes, as well as luxury foods, pets and slaves. Maybe a few psychoactive drugs. There's always the possibility that natives like us might make suitable slaves/farm animals/pets for some race out there that has better weapons than we do.


I am not thinking of this from an "aliens invading Earth" angle, I am thinking about it from the viewpoint of a future human society that has star travel via an FTL shortcut that is discovered sometime in the next century. They have the technology and the infrastructure to do asteroid mining or moon mining. What I am trying to figure out is if they have any reason at all for any industry at all to be located in the gravity wells of habitable planets.
Link Posted: 10/2/2011 3:51:15 PM EST
Originally Posted By RikWriter:
Originally Posted By Fintan:
Think of it as an economic question. What can be produced in quantity, cheaply, inside the gravity well of a giant spinning rock covered in fungus that can't be produced as economically outside of that environment? More importantly, who would pay for those products and why?

Exotics/luxury items, especially those derived from plant or animal sources. That right there is your answer.

Food for example (not just protein concentrate or hydroponically grown organic ass-cucumbers; I'm talking caviar, dry-aged prime rib (not the moldy, rotting meat that gets airtime here ;)), champagne, single malt scotch, good Virginia tobacco and good Cuban cigars, fine coffee, gourmet chocolate, etc. etc. etc.). Aside from food, consider what Gibson guitar is doing, taking rare woods from their natural environment and selecting unique pieces to add value to. Also, consider pets, as it's kinda hard to get biodiversity and mass breeding operations in orbit, given the space premium involved and the consumption of natural resources. Don't forget DRUGS, psychoactive substances from cocaine to opium to tobacco to fucking catnip may potentially be more economically produced and collected planet-side.

Look at the demand-side of the equation as well, not just supply-side economics. What would someone working on the ass-end of an asteroid in the middle of the crotch-rot end of the galaxy be willing to pay out of pocket for? Executives may wish to line their offices in iridescent petrified wood taken from some smarmy little planet that no one has ever heard of. Luxury food items, as well as comfort food items from "home" may make up part of a luxury trade network. Don't forget electronic entertainment (I'm sure porn will always be on the cutting edge of technology), as well as chemical "assistance" - lots of folks will want an escape from reality.

Then there's the slaves too, yes. Hard to get green-slave girls to grow properly in space.

Really, that's probably about all Earth would be worth to an advanced alien species. Novel plant and animal life for biomedical purposes, as well as luxury foods, pets and slaves. Maybe a few psychoactive drugs. There's always the possibility that natives like us might make suitable slaves/farm animals/pets for some race out there that has better weapons than we do.


I am not thinking of this from an "aliens invading Earth" angle, I am thinking about it from the viewpoint of a future human society that has star travel via an FTL shortcut that is discovered sometime in the next century. They have the technology and the infrastructure to do asteroid mining or moon mining. What I am trying to figure out is if they have any reason at all for any industry at all to be located in the gravity wells of habitable planets.


Use a Stargate.
Link Posted: 10/2/2011 3:58:39 PM EST
Originally Posted By RikWriter:
Originally Posted By Fintan:
Think of it as an economic question. What can be produced in quantity, cheaply, inside the gravity well of a giant spinning rock covered in fungus that can't be produced as economically outside of that environment? More importantly, who would pay for those products and why?

Exotics/luxury items, especially those derived from plant or animal sources. That right there is your answer.

Food for example (not just protein concentrate or hydroponically grown organic ass-cucumbers; I'm talking caviar, dry-aged prime rib (not the moldy, rotting meat that gets airtime here ;)), champagne, single malt scotch, good Virginia tobacco and good Cuban cigars, fine coffee, gourmet chocolate, etc. etc. etc.). Aside from food, consider what Gibson guitar is doing, taking rare woods from their natural environment and selecting unique pieces to add value to. Also, consider pets, as it's kinda hard to get biodiversity and mass breeding operations in orbit, given the space premium involved and the consumption of natural resources. Don't forget DRUGS, psychoactive substances from cocaine to opium to tobacco to fucking catnip may potentially be more economically produced and collected planet-side.

Look at the demand-side of the equation as well, not just supply-side economics. What would someone working on the ass-end of an asteroid in the middle of the crotch-rot end of the galaxy be willing to pay out of pocket for? Executives may wish to line their offices in iridescent petrified wood taken from some smarmy little planet that no one has ever heard of. Luxury food items, as well as comfort food items from "home" may make up part of a luxury trade network. Don't forget electronic entertainment (I'm sure porn will always be on the cutting edge of technology), as well as chemical "assistance" - lots of folks will want an escape from reality.

Then there's the slaves too, yes. Hard to get green-slave girls to grow properly in space.

Really, that's probably about all Earth would be worth to an advanced alien species. Novel plant and animal life for biomedical purposes, as well as luxury foods, pets and slaves. Maybe a few psychoactive drugs. There's always the possibility that natives like us might make suitable slaves/farm animals/pets for some race out there that has better weapons than we do.


I am not thinking of this from an "aliens invading Earth" angle, I am thinking about it from the viewpoint of a future human society that has star travel via an FTL shortcut that is discovered sometime in the next century. They have the technology and the infrastructure to do asteroid mining or moon mining. What I am trying to figure out is if they have any reason at all for any industry at all to be located in the gravity wells of habitable planets.


Even if you aren't working from the premise of aliens invading Earth, my analogy is still useful. Those are things of value likely to be found planet side that it would not necessarily be feasible to produce outside of the parent biosphere. Doesn't matter if it's humans doing the buying and selling or green folks, the underlying substantive economic reality is the same. Planets with complex biospheres would, economically, be best at supporting animal and plant life and the luxury trades those things can produce.

Think spices, plant and animal derived medicines and recreational drugs, luxury food items (for when you tired of spirulina algae paste), pets, and rare/luxury building materials (hard to get polished marble floors without limestone, and that may just be what the big-whigs want in their executive offices and luxury ships in order to visually communicate precisely how rich and powerful they are). Biodiversity and millions of years of selective pressure are in themselves a form of natural resource, one that may produce novel and hitherto unknown enzymes and molecular compounds, not to mention higher order life that would have economic value to a space-faring people.
Link Posted: 10/2/2011 4:00:33 PM EST
Carbon looks pretty useful to me.

Posted Via AR15.Com Mobile
Link Posted: 10/2/2011 4:00:45 PM EST
The benefit of harvesting fuels and stuff is that a lot of energy has been put into those things over time. This is why fossil fuels will always (until they run out) be more efficient from start to finish than e.g. ethanol; it takes less work to get the fossil fuels out of the ground than they have, whereas any manufactured fuel needs all the energy you want to extract from it to first be put into it, along with some waste.

So, anything that takes less energy to mine and then boost out of the gravity well than it takes to manufacture artificially will still be mined. You can make all of it in space, it's just a question of it being energy efficient or not to do so.
Link Posted: 10/2/2011 4:30:18 PM EST
Originally Posted By Vicinity:
Use a Stargate.


Heh. It's a sequel. That stuff is already set up.
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