By Marty Russell
Guess you heard about that group of rich dudes who want to start mining asteroids?” I asked a friend.
“Whaaa?” he replied. “Why on earth would anybody want to mine asteroids? I had asteroids once and I had to sit on one of those doughnut-looking cushions for a week. Those things are a pain in the butt. Why would anybody want to mine them?”
“No, no,” I corrected him. “Wrong kind of ‘roids.”
“Well they were on my …”
“No, you’re thinking about hemorrhoids. These guys want to mine ASTEroids.”
“Well, if you ask me that’s what they should call those things I had. Besides, why do they call them HEMorrhoids?
I’ve known some women who have had them too.”
“Look, you’re missing the point,” I told him. “Asteroids are these big rocks floating around out in space. A bunch of rich guys are investing in this company that wants to build spaceships and go out there and mine them for things like platinum and water and other rare stuff.”
“Water ain’t that rare,” he replied. “I just turn on the tap over my sink and there it is. Don’t have to go all the way out into outer space for that. That’s dumb. These guys obviously got too much money. They should give some to me. I might even give them a drink of water if they did.”
“Their thinking is that, someday, people are going to start traveling out into space and they’re going to need water to drink and convert to oxygen and even rocket fuel. It costs too much to launch all of that into space from Earth, so if you have it waiting for you out in space, maybe we’d be able to travel a lot farther out.”
“It all sounds pretty far out to me,” my friend replied. “Hey, wasn’t it an asteroid that killed off all the dinosaurs? Why they want to go messing around with those things? If they’re up there blasting and poking around they could knock one out of its orbit and it could come crashing down and make us extinct.”
“It could happen anyway,” I told him. “Last November an asteroid the size of an aircraft carrier flew between the Earth and the moon.
If it had hit, scientists said it would have had the impact of a 4,000-megaton bomb and dug out a crater 4 miles in diameter and 1,700-feet deep.
That could ruin your day. Another big one is due in 2028 and it could actually hit the Earth.”
“Hmmm …” my friend said, apparently lost in thought.
“What are you thinking?” I asked.
“I’m thinking maybe hemorrhoids ain’t so bad after all.”
Marty Russell writes a Wednesday column for the Daily Journal. He can be reached at 222 Farley Hall, University MS 38677 or by e-mail at email@example.com