Will cryptocurrency take over as fiat currency?
Crypto experts believe Bitcoin will. An astonishing 54% of a crypto expert panel thinks hyperbitcoinization — the moment that Bitcoin overtakes global finance — will happen by 2050. 29% think it will happen as soon as 2035 and an additional 20% by 2040.
It might even happen sooner. El Salvador announced this week that Bitcoin is its legal currency. Several exchange-listed companies now have Bitcoin in their portfolios.
What if something out of this world is the real instigator for Bitcoin or another cryptocurrency becoming the world money standard?
When I mean out of this world, I literally mean sitting in the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter.
16 Psyche is a large asteroid discovered by the Italian astronomer Annibale de Gasparis, working in Naples, on 17 March 1852 and named after the Greek mythological figure Psyche. The prefix “16” signifies that it was the sixteenth minor planet in order of discovery.
It is one of the dozen most massive asteroids, containing about one percent of the mass of the asteroid belt, and is over 200 kilometers (120 miles) in diameter. The asteroid is approximately 230 million miles from Earth. Psyche is hypothesized to be the exposed core of a protoplanet.
And here’s where it gets interesting.
16 Psyche is alleged to be the core of a hypothetical planet predicted by the Titius–Bode law to have existed between the orbits of Mars and Jupiter. Its destruction led to the formation of the asteroid belt and also includes the dwarf planet Ceres. The name of this hypothetical planet is called Phaeton (alternatively Phaethon or Phaëton), the destruction of which supposedly led to the formation of the asteroid belt.
Researchers now say, 66 million years ago, a 10-kilometre-wide (6-mile-wide) asteroid that wiped out the dinosaurs in a mass extinction event likely originated in the outer half of the main asteroid belt. This asteroid is suspected to have originated somewhere between Mars and Jupiter, a region previously thought to produce few large impactors. The remnants of this asteroid strike created the Chicxulub crater which sits as an impact crater buried underneath the Yucatán Peninsula in Mexico.
Could this asteroid have been part of the same planet that 16 Psyche was the core of?
Russian creatives and scientists were so inspired by the idea of this doomed planet of Phaeton that they created an animated short in 1972 to meld the realms of science and myth. In this cartoon, Cosmonauts are sent on a spaceship called “Phaeton 1” to explore the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter. The mission is based on the hypothesis that the belt originated from fragments of a deceased planet. It is suggested that the myth is “poetic evidence of an actual occurrence: the destruction of the planet Phaeton as a result of space catastrophe.”
Why is it suggested that the asteroid Psyche 16 is worth more than the entire global economy of Planet Earth?
The American scientist Lindy Elkins-Tanton, one of the principal investigators of NASA’s Psyche mission, calculated in 2017 that iron from the asteroid alone would be worth about $10,000 quadrillion on Earth.
Relative to other asteroids, 16 Psyche is very large and very bright, though it’s just outside naked eye visibility. Scientists explain that Psyche 16’s thermal inertia is high compared to other asteroids’. This indicates that it has an unusually dense or conductive surface and that at least 30% of it is made up of metal.
What could be even more beneficial is the possible detection of water on the surface of 16 Pysche that would make 16 Psyche valuable as a refueling stop for crewed deep space missions in the future.
Is it a coincidence that Elon Musk is pushing hard for NASA contracts? Or does Elon Musk want partial ownership of an asteroid that could be worth $10,000 quadrillion because his company SpaceX helped get NASA there? Is this why Jeff Bezos is suing NASA for the moon lander contract — in order to position himself for a slice of a $10,000 quadrillion pie?
$10 quintillion is over $1 billion for each of the world’s 7.5 billion persons. But consider this, no one including Musk or Bezos, or Warren Buffett has $10 quintillion in cash to pay each person on Earth for their share of Psyche’s resources.
On paper, minerals from 16 Psyche should make some people wealthy, particularly the owners of Psyche’s minerals. Lower prices for cars, buildings, spaceships, and other goods will increase investors’ effective wealth. The world’s economy should be more productive and investors more prosperous.
However, 16 Psyche could also theoretically bring about the total collapse of Earth’s economy.
Consider that if we were to bring such huge amounts of precious metals to Earth then it would ruin the raw materials markets, which would technically reduce the proposed value of what 16 Psyche is worth.
And to fight back, Earthbound metal producers would launch misinformation campaigns saying that space metals are contaminated and not safe for humans — splintering the raw materials market. Imagine such a marketing campaign ad: Save Yourself. Buy Only From Earth.
In all scenarios, just the introduction of knowing if 16 Psyche has precious metals or not makes it difficult to provide future forecasts backed by any kind of certainty.
Note the cost in harvesting and transportation of the metals off 16 Psyche will be what raw materials pricing gets based on. And only those space companies involved with the extraction will hold the monopoly on the endless supply AKA SpaceX.
SpaceX could do for raw materials what sadly De Beers did for diamonds.
De Beers at one time controlled 75–85% of the diamond rough supply. They carefully released only enough rough diamonds to satisfy then-current demand, while continually adjusting the degree of rough diamond availability. Of course, this made prices escalate and reinforced the perception of diamond’s rarity.
So what does any of this have to do with cryptocurrency?
If raw materials and precious metal prices go next to nothing, cryptocurrencies could be one of the only things that could hold value.
Cryptocurrency gains value on exchange platforms. It increases in value based on supply and demand. Like any currency, cryptocurrencies gain their value based on the scale of community involvement. Cryptocurrency gains value if the demand for it is higher than the supply. When a cryptocurrency is useful, people want to own more of it, driving up the demand and price.
Chief Executive Elon Musk has said that he and his rocket company, SpaceX, hold bitcoin, a cryptocurrency he generally supports despite having concerns about its environmental impacts. In another black eye to Bitcoin, Elon Musk in having discussions with bitcoin miners about bitcoin’s dismal carbon footprint impelled Musk to suspend Tesla’s use of bitcoin for payments earlier this month.
But Elon Musk has been more in the news for his promotion of Bitcoin’s competitor, Dogecoin. Musk, who enthusiastically embraced the honorary title of dogecoin CEO following a 2019 Twitter poll, has repeatedly named Dogecoin, the meme-based cryptocurrency as his preferred digital token.
Either way, as SpaceX positions itself to be the first on the scene at extracting from 16 Psyche and Elon Musk being the honorary CEO of dogecoin — the new galactic economy could easily be owned by cryptocurrency.
Will cryptocurrency take over as fiat currency?
But based on one theory that only gives humans until 2245 until Earth is destroyed.
In 1961, the German-American physicist Rolf Landauer proposed that, because erasing a digital bit produces a tiny amount of heat, there’s a link between information and energy.
Scientist Melvin Vopson believes the impending limit on the number of bits, the energy to produce them, and the distribution of physical and digital mass will overwhelm the planet. It would be approximately 130 years until the power needed to sustain digital information creation would equal all the power currently produced on planet Earth, and by 2245, half of Earth’s mass would be converted to digital information mass.
The idea that information has mass remains theoretical and requires experiments to prove it.
Wouldn’t it be ironic that harvesting raw materials from 16 Psyche and converting our economy to cryptocurrency would be what shatters our planet into thousands of asteroids that a future alien race will strip mine — and not believe we as a race or our planet ever existed?
In the meantime, the Psyche mission lands on 16 Psyche by January 2026.
“The dinosaurs became extinct because they didn’t have a space program.” - Larry Niven