The Tree Guardian

Searching For Minerals

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Keven shifted uneasily in his chair. He glanced at the clock on the wall, then got up and checked the room's environment settings. The temperature, humidity, and various air-component sensors all displayed normal levels. He sat down again and fiddled with the adjustments on his chair. Something just wasn't right; he couldn't get comfortable, even though he had set up every part of his surroundings perfectly.

"What am I doing wrong?" he said aloud.

Data, queries, internet browser and email client disappeared underneath a single window that filled his computer screen as Quantor replied, "I see nothing wrong with the temperature control in here, and your seat adjustments also match your frame well-"

"No, no, I know. Thanks for the nice display. Working with you is still a bit weird, no offense... I think it's this data. I've never seen minerals rejoin an environment this way. Maybe it's just that there weren't any measurements between the last time they tried to dig some out and now..." Keven stared again at the data.

"I cannot find any references to scans of Ravost between the time you surveyed it and now. Many of your areas of interest are in a similar state. Perhaps there is some portion of the EM spectrum that we could scan for through a satellite and get real-time verification that way."

"That's... that's brilliant! Do you have access to a satellite that can scan in the 30 to 40nm range?"

Quantor brought up the window on Keven's screen again. This time, there was a list of satellites, their schedules and flight patterns, ranges of EM spectra that could be scanned, and approximate wait times for the next time they were accessible. In the lower right corner, Quantor added a global map, then zoomed in to display Ravost and its immediate surroundings. "The coastline is in red, and the green dotted line represents a 50km partial circle; the blue dot represents Ravost. Are there specific frequencies to scan for?"

Keven had his handheld out and was excitedly looking through it. "This is probably the best way to find this stuff. I don't see why we haven't done this before... hmm. Maybe I don't have the data on specific frequencies with me. Oh, how sensitive are the satellite readings? These frequencies are highly specific, usually ten significant digits, but possibly up to fourteen."

Quantor zoomed the map in several orders of magnitude to a location slightly northeast of Ravost's blue dot. "There is a faint reading at this location, approximately 0.5km due northeast of the city limits. The frequency range is 38.88462201985 to 40.00703165841nm. Are there any known minerals that would show up in this range?"

"No, not the ones we really need." Keven sighed. "Actually, what I should do is get out the minerals we want and take some good readings from them. I think the firm I was with when I surveyed Ravost demanded that I turn all data over to them when I left. You know what, let's scan one of our currently-active areas, whatever's got the most yield right now."

Quantor re-zoomed the map. "The blue dot now represents Arcuut. Next scan in 9.4 seconds."

The scanned data arrived, and Quantor added a second window to Keven's screen listing the frequency ranges emitted from Arcuut. They were indexed, and the map-window now displayed several labeled patches indicating the emitted frequencies from each patch. "You have 400 more scan units available before your satellite budget runs out."

Keven blinked. "Oh, so that's why it's not universally used. Did the CEO give me a specific budget then? Is 400 a lot or a little? How many units did the scan of Arcuut use up?"

"Yes, he gave me a ballpark spending figure for this project, and suggested that satellite imagery might be worth the cost. Your budget does not need to include field surveying time if you can give us 95% or better confidence that a given site contains good minerals. One scan of Arcuut used three scan units. One scan of Ravost used 0.2 units. The amount of units used depends on how busy the satellite is. You could probably afford about 200 more scans if they were spread randomly across the available satellites which have the necessary scanning capacity, based on current costs."

Keven sighed again. "Well, I should scan the minerals we have here anyways. One of the most important ones, at approximately 36.9972nm, is missing from the list at Arcuut, and I think there are at least three others. It's a start. Perhaps you could go through my list of potential sites and set up scan times for tomorrow after I've gotten the mineral data."

Quantor adjusted the map again to show Ravost, this time with a couple very light patches and labeling. "I reviewed the scan of Ravost in light of the data from Arcuut, and there appear to be small areas there with frequency matches. The matches are less visible than the one I noted before, and without the specific frequencies from Arcuut they did not register."

Keven stared for a few moments in disbelief. "The fact that they are registering at all means there's a significant amount there. I hate to say this after the meeting that put me on this project, but perhaps the CEO was right to study Ravost, and maybe some of the others too." He shook his head slowly. "Well, I'll head down to the sample lab then. We've got samples of all the minerals we harvest, right?"

"Yes. Just give me the numbers as you get them and I will store them with our chemical data on the samples."

"Works for me."

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