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Growing Your Own Gold

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  • Dang it (Score:4, Funny)

    by clausiam (609879) on Wednesday January 28, 2004 @10:54AM (#8112469)
    From the article: "although it may take millions of years to grow a really big one"

    Oh well, good thing I didn't quit my day job then...

    /Claus

    • From the article: "although it may take millions of years to grow a really big one"

      Really? Takes me about a few seconds and a good porno mag.

  • ...grow gold like growing potatoes...

    If this works out, McDonald's will have a new prize giveaway. No more Monopoly: now it is "Golden Fries"

    (Hot coffee trolls refrain from replying to item)
  • by ewhenn (647989) on Wednesday January 28, 2004 @10:58AM (#8112518)
    The highly prized chunks of gold may be the product of generations of soil microbes at work.

    I bet by the time you factor in health insurance, wages, and a 401K plan growing gold is no longer a functioning business plan.

  • Unspoken (Score:5, Informative)

    by cgenman (325138) on Wednesday January 28, 2004 @11:00AM (#8112547) Homepage
    SMH.com.au [smh.com.au] has a more informed description of what happens. The gold is not "grown," it is "collected." Bacteria break down and carry gold material away from a larger vein, and another group picks it up and deposits it when they get to a chunk or nugget. ABC au [abc.net.au] also has a good article.

    So unless you happen to live near a large, undiscovered underground tract of gold, your chance of growing gold in your backyard like potatoes is just about zero.

    • Re:Unspoken (Score:3, Interesting)

      by rpresser (610529)
      Any chance this could be adapted to sea life? There's a hell of a lot of gold dissolved in our oceans...
      • Re:Unspoken (Score:3, Interesting)

        IANASME (I am not a subject matter expert), but, the concept is that the microbes make the gold soluable and then consolodate it by the microbes clumping together, so I'd say it'd work just as easily in water as on land.

        the problem that they're running into is that they don't know which microbes they're looking for. it's a "they'll know it when they see it" kind of thing.

        Of course, it's all just a theory. He could be wrong. But it certainly sounds plausible.

        • Am I the only one who thinks these abbreviations are getting out of hand? "IANAL"? "IANASME"? Honestly, take a bit of extra time to type out the words and save everyone who's going to read your comment the trouble of attempting to decipher your ridiculous glob of letters. And why include the expanded form of the abbreviation in parentheses?
          • > these abbreviations are getting out of hand
            > decipher your ridiculous glob of letters

            You have answered your own question:

            > why include the expanded form of the abbreviation in parentheses

            IANAPC (I am not a professional comedian), but I think it's a joke.
            If it doesn't have an icon of a foot on it, I guess you can't figure that out for yourself...
            Lighten up!

          • Am I the only one who thinks these abbreviations are getting out of hand? "IANAL"? "IANASME"?
            ITTYNTGOM (I Think That You Need To Get Out More.)
          • He could have just typed "!SME" or something simple like that... :D
      • Re:Unspoken (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Muhammar (659468)
        Gold in oceans is very diluted. But low-grade gold ore is a different matter. There are vast amounts of it in Australia, often with gold yields below the cost of extraction.
        Composting lousy ore with some bacteria sounds like a nice proposal (compared to the current method - macerating it with cyanide solution).
        Now they need to identify the useful microbes and find out how to speed up the process, 10^6 years is bit slow.
    • So unless you happen to live near a large, undiscovered underground tract of gold, your chance of growing gold in your backyard like potatoes is just about zero.

      What if I happen to have a neutron accelerator and some lead in my backyard?

      • Re:Unspoken (Score:1, Interesting)

        by Anonymous Coward
        You mean you're going to make gold, deposit it in the earth, and let your potatoes soak it up?

        Sounds like the long way around Farmer Brown's Barn. ;)
        • Nah, I was thinking about burying the lead and particle accelerator. Over time, it would "grow" into gold! I'll just need to keep quiet about that little radioactive problem...
  • what they do... (Score:4, Interesting)

    by pb (1020) on Wednesday January 28, 2004 @11:01AM (#8112553)
    No, they don't really grow gold [abc.net.au], they just sort of extract it and move it around. Unlike growing a potato.
    • Re:what they do... (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Sparr0 (451780)
      Yeah, its not like potato plants extract anything (nutrients, water, etc) and move it around to form a potato... They just magically appear, spontaneous generation. Thank you mister 1700s.
      • someone will explain to you the difference between the chemical and biological processes required to form a potato, and the difference between that and the sort of chemical processes that would be required to *create* gold.

        I guess that was my original point, that this isn't spontaneous generation, or any number of other things... just accretion.
        • One organism takes carbon, nitrogen, oxygen, and a bunch of other stuff out of the soil and builds a potato. The other takes gold out of the soil and builds a bigger chunk of gold.
          • Piling together a bunch of carbon, nitrogen, and oxygen-containing compounds doesn't get you a potato.

            Piling together a bunch of gold particles does get you a bigger chunk of gold.

    • ermm, PEDANTIC tag imminent, but a potato is just 'redistributed molecules' as well, you know ... extracted from the soil, compressed, condensed, modified, etc.

      and when it says 'like' it doesn't mean 'exactly the same way as', it means 'in a way which is similar' ...
  • by andawyr (212118) on Wednesday January 28, 2004 @11:02AM (#8112565)
    Takers anyone? Periodic table symbo AU is the symbol for what? Gold.

    Coincidence, but funny nonetheless.
  • by AtariAmarok (451306) on Wednesday January 28, 2004 @11:02AM (#8112566)
    Now, if they could breed flowering potato plants that turn red in the presence of gold mines [slashdot.org], we might have something here!
  • Only Gold? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by MissMarvel (723385) * on Wednesday January 28, 2004 @11:31AM (#8112847) Journal
    I'm curious if they did the research to see if this bacteria/fungus works with other heavy metals as well, i.e. Silver, Mercury. If so, it might be possible to adapt this type of process to the removal of heavy metals from soil and drinking water sources.
    • Re:Only Gold? (Score:3, Informative)

      by Mangal (745519)
      Other kinds of bacteria can- they've been used to collect copper from poor quality ore. One big hurdle, of course, is the efficiency/speed of bioremediation (bioengineers are working on that one, you can be sure). Another problem is how to get the bacteria in contact with the metals; water could be pumped through a filtration system (bacterial filters), but you can't pump soil. Directly applying the bacteria to the soil would require removing the bacteria and all sequestered metals after the fact- not sure
    • by mOdQuArK! (87332)
      That's all we need - bacteria & fungi which collect critical masses of uranium out of the soil.
    • Gold works well because it doesn't oxidize. Both silver and copper will oxidize if left in an air & water environment so the nuggets will disintegrate at the same time as they are being 'grown'. If you won't have air and water, then you also won't have the bacteria that are allegedly doing the dirty work.

      Another process that can produce gold nuggets is simply smacking together smaller bits of gold. Think hammering. Since water action can concentrate gold in parts of streams & rivers, these woul
  • by TheSnakeMan (59408) on Wednesday January 28, 2004 @11:31AM (#8112850)
    Does anyone else find it funny that the link was to a .au site?
  • doesn't seawater contain some sort of trace elements of gold which can be converted using exorbitant chemical process?

    could a vat of these microbes be fed sea-water and turn it all into gold rapidly?

    gold has many uses. if i could make a machine that could 'grow' tons of it, i sure as hell would.
    • Not turn it all into gold, just collect those traces of it together...

      Besides, if they actual could transform water into gold, gold would be horribly devalued, causing an economic crisis. A lot of gold's value comes from the fact that it is so scarce.

    • Haber tried and failed ( see http://www.gnt-verlag.de/programm/46/rez_bhc2001.s html for summary of historic account). Sure, there's lots of gold in the oceans- too bad there's so much water suspending it.
  • One of the things about gold that makes it so valuable is it's relative scarcity. If anyone were to start growing gold (yes that's not quite what the article said but...) then the prices would come down due to abundance of supply and pretty soon gold is worthless. Same basic law of supply and demand that is affecting all the IT jobs heading to India, so I'd hope not....
    • by Anonymous Coward
      Which are not actually anywhere near as scarce as consumers are led to believe.

      The Diamond cartels hoard most of the Diamonds so that only a very small percentage is available for public consumption. Scarcity is manufactured, and the prices are artificially inflated to the financial gain of the cartels.

    • Um, if gold were as common as, say, iron, or aluminum(*), don't you think we would still be using it? It would still make beautiful jewelry. It would still be an excellent conductor heat and of electricity.

      (*) Thirteen percent of the Earth's crust [www.adlc.ca].

    • One of the things about gold that makes it so valuable is it's relative scarcity. If anyone were to start growing gold (yes that's not quite what the article said but...) then the prices would come down due to abundance of supply and pretty soon gold is worthless. Same basic law of supply and demand that is affecting all the IT jobs heading to India, so I'd hope not....

      Yes, it would have an economic impact; no, it's not necessarily appropriate to conclude that it would be a seriously negative one.

      The ma

    • So let's say in the future any form of matter can be synthesized. Would that mean energy and human labor be highly prized rather then say..gold?

  • during the United State's first gold rush, which took place in the North Georgia mountains in the early 1800's around the town of Dahlonega, the "mother lode" was never found. All that was ever found was gold dust and nuggets. [goldrushgallery.com] But what nuggets!!!

  • "Scientists believe it may be possible to grow gold like growing potatoes."

    All right, who let those "scientists" escape from the mental institute?
  • by geoswan (316494) on Wednesday January 28, 2004 @03:54PM (#8115658) Journal
    I have a copy of De Re Metallica [udel.edu], the 2nd book on metallurgy and related arts published outside of China. Rather I have a translation of it.

    Written in 1556, by a German, in Latin -- it covered labor management, metal working, ore processing, mining and prospecting .

    Agricola explained that gold grew in the ground, like the roots of trees. So, he said it first.

    (The first book was entitled Pirotechnia [astragalpress.com], written in Italian, in the city of Siena, in 1540, by one Vannocio Biringucio.)

    (I know Agricola doesn't sound like a German name. His real name was Georg Bauer. Like Nicholas Copernicus he translated his name into Latin. People did that back then.)

  • I, for one, welcome our new gold gathering bacteria overlords

The degree of technical confidence is inversely proportional to the level of management.

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