Extraterrestrial Mining

In my last field camp, I watched a pair of movies on aliens invading LA to exploit our resources. Skyline‘s aliens wanted our brains, and Battle Los Angeles‘s aliens were seeking water.

Ignoring the big question of why the aliens started their Earth-invasions in deserts (Want brains? UCLA, CalTech, and a whole lot of other universities are just barely inland. Want water? The Pacific Northwest is a temperate rainforest…), the entire premise of extraterrestrial mining is an interesting one for just how desperate your resource situation needs to be to justify the economics of transportation. Locally, we may one day get around to mining the moon, and a few technical papers have investigated the potential challenges of mining near-earth asteroids, but I’m trying to imagine a lifeform evolving a need for consuming brains that doesn’t have enough smarts to farm a local supply, or technology that allows interstellar travel but can’t make water out of gas giants.

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