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Scientists make gold with bacteria

Michigan State University is home to an experiment where scientists have managed to use a bacteria in the manufacture of gold. By processing a poisonous gas, the bacteria in question takes about a week to create a solid chunk of Au. 

In a surprising turn of events, researchers at Michigan State University have discovered a bacteria which produces 24-carat gold. Professors Kazem Kashefi and Adam Brown have created an experimental apparatus in which the bacteria Cupriavidus Metallidurans was used to convert the toxic and naturally occurring gas Gold Chloride, into 99,9% pure Gold – it's microbiological alchemy! The bacteria was discovered to be much more resistant to toxic environments than previously thought, up to 25 times more in fact; which made the researchers understand that the experiment was possible.

This isn't food coloring; it's manufactured gold


The apparatus used for the experiment is essentially a small glass bowl containing the bacteria, into which the highly toxic chemical is pumped. After about a week, all of the gas has been processed by the bacteria, leaving behind a chunk of solid precious metal. The researchers believe this interaction happens between the bacteria and the gas all the time in nature.


The gold-making apparatus, quaintly dubbed "The Great Work of the Metal Lover"


So what exactly is this discovery good for? Will it solve all of your economic problems? With fair certainty, it will not. First, the gas isn't free, and though the gold is worth more than the gas is, there isn't much of a profit margin. More importantly though, gold is valuable because it's a rare earth mineral. Assuming you can actually tell the difference between the two, manufactured gold, if it ever became common, wouldn't be worth as much as the naturally occurring stuff; just as manufactured diamonds aren't nearly as valuable as the ones pulled from the ground.

David F.
A grad student in experimental physics, David is fascinated by science, space and technology. When not buried in lecture books, he enjoys movies, gaming and mountainbiking

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