A body is found in the museum. The tracks lead to the Africa Room. A mineral has been stolen and someone has been murdered. A case for the CSI team? Although the story is fictional, it takes us to the far reaches of the world and underscores the value of minerals and rare earth metals.
These raw materials and chemical elements are the forerunners of the future. Today it’s impossible to imagine our high-tech life without them. Computers, rechargeable batteries, mobiles, monitors, fuel cells, fluorescent lights, electric motors, radar devices – none of these would work or even exist without rare earth metals. The hype surrounding the “global monopoly” on these raw materials has ebbed recently; the prices are moderate. But because demand will inevitably increase in the medium and long term, we can expect market conditions to heat up again and the environmental problems to worsen. Japanese researchers are currently working to minimise the environmental risks of extracting rare earth metals by means of so-called green technologies.
The goal of this fellowship is to introduce visitors to the latest research findings in this field and create an innovative form of presentation which enables museum goers to become “detectives”. In view of the politics governing raw materials worldwide, the museum goers will be asked to solve a case of economic crime with the aid of mineralogy, and in so doing, learn about the kinds of scientific methods which can be applied. The exhibition will reveal the rules of the game in the global competition for raw materials.