There are 17 elements from the periodic table of elements that are considered rare earth metals, and they are used to make products we use every day, in addition to military defense applications.
Although the U.S. was once the top exporter of the metals (the majority of which once came from a mine in Mountain Pass, CA), China took the reigns as it started to mass mine for the elements with its abundant resources, cheap labor and less strict environmental laws, driving down global prices and demand. Dependence on China became especially dangerous when political disputes between China and Japan led to a halt in exports of rare earth metals to Japan, whom the U.S. relies on to make many of its technological products.
And though the Mountain Pass mine reopened in 2012 with promises of using new, improved technology, its stocks have gone down by over 70% since then.
What will the U.S. government do about this?
These photos show the products we use every day and are made out of, or were made using, rare earth metals.
Indiehub, now inactive, was a project that I, along with three of my classmates at USC Annenberg created in 2013. The website featured independent bookstores in Los Angeles. The goal was to highlight the quirks and aspects of the individual bookstores that made them an integral part of their respective communities despite the rise of e-books. While we all contributed to the content curation of the website, I was the main photographer for the project.
Kerry Slatter, owner of Skylight Books in Los Feliz.
Patricia Fetters, book manager of Wacko Soap Plant in Los Feliz.
Lee Kaplan, co-owner of Arcana Bookstore in Culver City.
Inside Arcana Bookstore in Culver City.
Outside view of Arcana Bookstore in Culver City.
David Jacob Kramer, owner of Family Bookstore in Los Angeles.
Inside Family Bookstore in Los Feliz.
Inside Family Bookstore in Los Feliz.
Zuade Kaufman, co-founder and publisher of Truthdig, a political news startup based in Los Angeles.
Some of my favorites using my iPhone.
I had gone to Yosemite National Park in February 2013 with hopes of capturing the famed Horsetail Falls. Instead of seeing a fiery waterfall, I witnessed one of the many consequences of California's ongoing drought--the sun's last rays, called alpenglow, only hit the rock's surface.
I moved to the Bay Area in late January and feel like the photographic opportunities are endless up here.
Photos from Portland, OR and Seattle, WA.
State of NASA
I was fortunate enough to be a part of NASA Social earlier this month at AMES Exploration Center in Mountain View for the first State of NASA (Kennedy Space Center in Florida), which focused on the agency's journey to Mars.
What is a NASA Social, you ask?
Someone who is selected and agrees to use social media to disseminate and promote the NASA event. Basically, ten of us lucky tech-savvy social media users got to try to make NASA look sexy and, or help inform part of the general public that may not have been reached before.
It was super exciting to be at a NASA center for the first time in person and learn about what they've been into. My takeaways were:
-NASA employees seemed to highlight how little they had to spend in order to build some high-tech stuff that can get to space
-It's almost offensive how easy it is for startups like Yo and Snapchat to raise millions of dollars for apps while NASA struggles to bootstrap itself to space for the livelihood of humanity.
-The overall mood of NASA's past accomplishments and outlook for future projects was positive. Listening to Charles Bolden made me more a little more optimistic about the rest of my life on earth.
The State of NASA on Feb. 2, 2015 at the Ames Exploration Center in Mountain View.
Measuring tape attached to a $10,000 nanosatellite (as small as 10 inches), because they are great, foldable antennae. It was on display at the State of NASA at the Ames Exploration Center in Mountain View on Feb. 2, 2015.
NASA is experimenting with sending out multiple nanosatellites that talk to each other and take turns being "captains" that report back to ground instead of sending one big one. The little ones can cover more ground at once than a big one could in a shorter amount of time. With a modest budget, NASA has to come up with economical and creative ways to continue with its missions.
A nanosatellite with 3D printed parts at the State of NASA on Feb. 2, 2015 at the Ames Exploration Center in Mountain View, CA.
A yeast-group activation pack on display at the State of NASA event on Feb. 2, 2015 at the Ames Exploration Center in Mountain View. NASA is experimenting with yeast to see how it grows in space, and to learn how to better manage and treat infections on Earth.
A robot used for testing in the roverscape at the NASA Ames Research Center at the first State of NASA on Feb. 2, 2015.
A Spherical Underactuated Planetary Exploration Robot (SUPER) ball on display on Feb. 2, 2015 during the State of NASA event at the Ames Exploration Center in Mountain View . Aside from cheap computer components, it is also made with 3D printed parts.
Sriram Narasimhan, a contractor from UC Santa Cruz, gives a briefing of the agency's Automated Contingency Management (ACM) project at the State of NASA on Feb. 2, 2015 at the Ames Exploration Center in Mountain View.