Wednesday, August 4, 2021

Martin Elvis's "Asteroids"

Martin Elvis is an astrophysicist at the Center for Astrophysics | Harvard & Smithsonian. Previously he was a postdoctoral fellow with the UK Science Research Council. He has researched X-ray astronomy, black holes, and quasars—and now asteroids. In 2007, he won the Pirelli INTERNETional Award for multimedia science communication. Asteroid 9283 Martinelvis is named after him. He lives in Cambridge, MA.

Elvis applied the “Page 99 Test” to his new book, Asteroids: How Love, Fear, and Greed Will Determine Our Future in Space, and reported the following:
Diving into Asteroids at page 99 will give you an idea of how I explain the details involved in prospecting asteroids, either for the damage they might do (Fear), the economic potential they might hold (Greed), or the fundamental insights they might yield (Love). What page 99 won’t do for you is see the huge breadth of skills that will be needed to make an industry out of asteroids, that stretch from geologists and astronomers to entrepreneurs, lawyers and even hoteliers and artists. For that you’ll need to read more. The book lays out the Why, How, and When of asteroids, after explaining just What asteroids are, for all three motives – science, saving the planet, and selling supplies to the in-space economy that is just about to bloom. In other words, the motive, means and opportunity. Motive explains the Big Questions in science that asteroids are deeply entangled in, including the origin of life on Earth. It also explains just how worried we should be about being hit by an asteroid, and what it just might be worth mining from asteroids to sell in space. Means explains the tools that will be needed to find the most interesting/dangerous/valuable asteroids, and how to deflect the dangerous ones, and mine the valuable ones. That’s where page 99 comes in, explaining how to use radar to map asteroids that swing by near the Earth. Opportunity describes the rapid growth of commercial space – “NewSpace” – and how it will come to need supplies from space. The last chapter talks about the farther future of humans in space, and how the vast resources of the asteroids could lead to a new flourishing of human achievements, but also how it may not.
Visit Martin Elvis's webspage.

--Marshal Zeringue