Ferdinand Magellan died on this date in 1521 after traveling three-quarters of the way around the world. He got caught up in a tribal dispute in the Philippines and took a poisoned arrow. His men left him to die as they boogied out of there. A few of them actually made the rest of the journey and became the first explorers to travel ALL THE Way around our little planet. Congratulations.
Ferdinand Magellan. Dead. . . 491 years ago today.
I was thinking about Ferdy while reading this report from Mashable about an organization formed this week to mine asteroids. The venture, Planetary Resources is the asteroid-mining company launched Tuesday in Seattle, with backing from Microsoft and Google billionaires. They want to send robots into space and bring back the loot. So things haven’t really changed much in the last five hundred years. The Spanish headed out after spices in some rickety boats. The geek squad is chasing platinum, nickel and cobalt.
But they are not going themselves. R2-D2 is going to do the dangerous, dirty work for them. Which makes a lot of sense. The king of Spain was waiting for Magellan to bring him the goods. Someone needs to mind the store. Hopefully, the robot won’t get sidetracked and end up dead on the dark side of the moon.
Our buddy wandered too far from his charger and ended up with a dead battery.
Estimated cost of a new one (plus shipping) 5 Billion dollars. But that’s not going to discourage anybody. There’s 20 trillion dollars worth of platinum on just one little asteroid. Unfortunately, by the time they successfully launch the droid into space and land him on the mile-wide Near-Earth Asteroid, known as 1986 DA, it will cost 1000 dollars just to go to the grocery store for some bread.
But that’s why platinum is such a good investment! It will be worth so much more! Hopefully all of this will bring about a great deal of economic activities and. . . jobs! We could use some of that. Quite a few space enthusiasts were put out of work down in Florida when the Space Shuttle Program was cancelled.
Look at all the jobs Magellan helped to create as he opened up trade routes around the globe! He really started something even if he didn’t live to finish it. Yes, I would say he was the progenitor of trillions of dollars worth of trade in the centuries that followed.
Of course, the people he displaced were not so happy with all of that. And they made it a point to tell him! Ouch!
I can see him in a peaceful moment, before all the chaos started, standing on a beach in the evening looking up at the stars. He had no idea how big the Pacific Ocean really was until he had sailed on it for weeks and months. He must have been awestruck by the beauty and size of the world.
And we are still looking up at those same stars. But now we are sending probes to them and taking measurements. Humankind has done some amazing things in the past five hundred years. We have developed some amazing skills. But we still can’t get beyond those altercations that result in so much needless death and destruction.
We are still a lot like Ferdy in the end.