In March 1968, a Soviet Golf II submarine carrying nuclear ballistic missiles exploded and sank 1,500 nautical miles northwest of Hawaii. Five months later, the US government discovered the wreckage—and decided to steal it. So began Project AZORIAN, one of the most absurdly ambitious operations the CIA has ever…
It’s not something anyone likes to think about, but your smartphone—or your laptop, or the battery in your hybrid car—created a huge amount of toxic and radioactive waste. And now we know what happens to that waste in the long term. It returns to the earth, mingles with sludge, and finds its way into clay pots.
Not so long ago, the U.S. went into full panic mode. China had reached the point where it controlled 97% of the world's rare earth elements—minerals that play a crucial role in manufacturing high-tech products. Were they right to fear that Beijing has a stranglehold over the global economy?
Your gadgets contain tiny specks of precious and rare earth metals—we rely on these dust-sized particles, which are so small they're often not recycled because the cost of recycling outweighs the value of the metals. But according to the American Chemical Society, the overall value of these minute materials is…
Deep sea hydrothermal vents, home to exotic forms of life that exist nowhere else on earth, are very close to being commercially mined for precious and rare-earth metals. This could have profound effects on the isolated ecosystems surrounding the vents, some of which have existed for millennia.
You've surely heard that inside your iPhone, TV, and power drill sit fragments of valuable metals, and that our hunger for new gadgets is depleting the world of its very limited supply. But you've probably never actually seen those chips of gold or tantalum. Well, here they are.
It takes a lot of different materials to make a modern day phone, and a fair number of them are of the rare earth metal variety. But a new study by researchers at Yale shows that there's another troubling detail about the supply of pre-phone components. Many of these metals aren't just rare; they're irreplaceable.