Magnetics Business & Technology - Summer 2011 - (Page 30)

SPONTANEOUS THOUGHTS a CoLuMn By dr. stan trout Sputnik Moment For those of you too young to remember, the Soviets launched the first Earth satellite in October 1957. While the Soviets were very proud of their accomplishment, the western World was stunned and embarrassed to be “scooped” by the U.S.S.R. As the rest of the world scrambled to catch up, the negative event was soon turned into a positive thing. It was the shock of the sudden realization of being behind, which prompted much government action that likely would not have happened otherwise. It turned out to be the first event in the Space Race. Agencies like NASA were created and generous scholarships educated an entire generation of scientists and engineers, like me. Within the past few months, several politicians have claimed that we once again face a Sputnik Moment, among them Senator John Kerry and President Barack Obama. In this context, I think they was referring to some of the challenges we face in energy and climate change, the rise of China and the decline of some economies in the rest of the world. I like the idea and wanted to see if we are in a Sputnik Moment with the rare earths and China. As everyone seems to know these days, rare earth prices have been climbing at an alarming rate. The confluence of strong demand, limits on supply and speculators are the major causes. There have been cries for action from within the government. For example … (Mike Coffman). However the action has been slow. The real activity in this area seems to me market driven. High rare earths prices have sparked investment in all kinds of rare earth activities from prospecting to mining. It seems we may be facing a sputnik mo- A Soviet stamp honoring Sputnik. Source: Wikipedia ment with rare earths, however the financing and activities are being coordinated by businesses not the government. It seems in this case the government is late to the party. Dr. Stan Trout has more than 30 years experience in the permanent magnet and rare earth industries. Dr. Trout has a B.S. in Physics from Lafayette College and a Ph.D. in Metallurgy and Materials Science from the University of Pennsylvania. Stan is a contributing columnist for Magnetics Business and Technology magazine and the Director of the Magnet Business for Molycorp Minerals, LLC. Spontaneous Materials, his consultancy, specializes in technical training on magnetics. He can be reached at 30 Magnetics Business & Technology • Summer 2011

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Magnetics Business & Technology - Summer 2011

Magnetics Business & Technology - Summer 2011
Editor’s Choice
Designing Permanent Magnet Systems for Critical Applications
Growth in the Sensor Market Led by Magnetically Actuated Reed and Hall Sensors
Extending the Possibilities of Iron
Research & Development
Magnets • Materials • Measurement
Application • Component Developments
Guest Column: Cue-less About Q of an Inductor?
Industry News
Calendar of Events
Advertising Index
Spontaneous Thoughts: Sputnik Moments

Magnetics Business & Technology - Summer 2011