Half a croissant, on a plate, with a sign in front of it saying '50c'
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Landfill scanner

Scan landfills with radar to recover valuable items
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Large landfills must be filled with rare and valuable items. The problem is that they're so far buried under mountains of trash that they might as well not exist.

First, we equip the landfill with powerful ground-penetrating radar units mounted on poles. Next, we develop a database of valuable items by inputting shapes, sizes, densities, etc. Individuals looking for a particular item, like the hubcap from a 1952 Ford, can pay a fee to include their item in the database.

At night after the workers go home, computers turn on the radar and scan the landfill layer by layer looking for matches. If a potential match is found, a robot is dispatched to dig it out of the landfill.

I'm imagining a future in which landfill scanning could become as popular as searching ebay.

flarosa, Jan 24 2003

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       Yeah, one mans trash is another mans treasure and all that! Nice one.
squeak, Jan 24 2003
  

       Not too sure about the "rare and valuable items " though. "Interesting and useful junk" perhaps?
squeak, Jan 24 2003
  

       If it could only find that winning loto ticket I threw out a few months ago.   

       I think you're overestimating the penetrating depth and resolution of GPR, pattern matching ability, and the ability of robots to dig and retrieve items. If these ever get good enough and cheap enough, yeah, digging through landfills will be a no-brainer (and you'd also want to scan the waste stream and separate out valuable objects before the landfill).   

       Until then, it's pretty much a WIBNI, and you're better off at a junkyard, which is a landfill optimized and indexed for retrieval of useful items.
egnor, Jan 25 2003
  
      
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