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Super Bacteria Create Gold

Soulskill posted about a year and a half ago | from the thar-be-gold-in-them-bacteriums dept.

Science 180

SchrodingerZ writes "With the price of gold skyrocketing in today's market, Michigan State University researchers have discovered a bacterium that can withstand high toxicity levels that are necessary to create natural gold. '"Microbial alchemy is what we're doing — transforming gold from something that has no value into a solid, precious metal that's valuable," said Kazem Kashefi, assistant professor of microbiology and molecular genetics.' The bacteria is Cupriavidus metallidurans, which is conditioned to be tolerant to heavy, toxic metals and to be 25 times stronger than most bacteria. When put into gold-chloride (a natural forming toxic liquid), the bacteria reproduces and converts the liquid into a gold nugget. The complete process takes about a week to perform. This experiment is currently on tour as an art exhibit called 'The Great Work of the Metal Lover.'"

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180 comments

first (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41532023)

first

SHIT GOLD BRICKS (5, Funny)

Jeremiah Cornelius (137) | about a year and a half ago | (#41532279)

For fun and profit.

throw out the dictionary, you aren't using it. (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41532029)

This bacteria refines gold compounds.

"no it doesn't" (1)

aliquis (678370) | about a year and a half ago | (#41532187)

Why did this make it to the front page with no editing?

"Die SchroedingerZ die!" ;D

Re:"no it doesn't" (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41533013)

Editing? What's that?

Re:"no it doesn't" (3, Funny)

Ol Biscuitbarrel (1859702) | about a year and a half ago | (#41533113)

Q. How many copy editors does it take to change a light bulb?
A. The last time this question was asked, it involved art directors. Is the difference intentional? Should one or the other instance be changed? It seems inconsistent.

Re:throw out the dictionary, you aren't using it. (2)

darkfeline (1890882) | about a year and a half ago | (#41532351)

make 1 [meyk] Show IPA verb, made, making, noun verb (used with object) 1. to bring into existence by shaping or changing material, combining parts, etc. Speak for yourself. FYI, make does not mean summon out of thin air.

Re:throw out the dictionary, you aren't using it. (1)

darkfeline (1890882) | about a year and a half ago | (#41532367)

Derp. create [kree-eyt] Show IPA verb, created, creating, adjective verb (used with object) 1. to cause to come into being, as something unique that would not naturally evolve or that is not made by ordinary processes. Does gold chloride naturally precipitate into gold?

Re:throw out the dictionary, you aren't using it. (5, Informative)

ClickOnThis (137803) | about a year and a half ago | (#41532421)

Derp. create [kree-eyt] Show IPA verb, created, creating, adjective verb (used with object) 1. to cause to come into being, as something unique that would not naturally evolve or that is not made by ordinary processes. Does gold chloride naturally precipitate into gold?

The bacterium does not make the gold. It separates it from the gold chloride molecule.

The only things in the universe that create gold atoms are supernovae. On earth, nuclear transmutation is possible in principle (via particle accelerators, tokamaks, etc.) but I don't think anyone has set up a process to make gold successfully that way.

Re:throw out the dictionary, you aren't using it. (5, Informative)

Formalin (1945560) | about a year and a half ago | (#41532481)

You can turn one of the isotopes of mercury to gold in a reactor, but it is not cost effective, and presumably has some issues (I'd imagine if the mercury was not all the pure isotope, you would get other radioactive products...)

The bacteria doesn't make gold. correct.

Re:throw out the dictionary, you aren't using it. (5, Informative)

rubycodez (864176) | about a year and a half ago | (#41533253)

gold from lead was done in the 1950s with particle accelerators, and interestingly the reverse is easier, gold to lead in a fission reactor done by a series of neutron captures followed by beta decays to form the pretty dull grey metal from the ugly shiny yellow one.

Re:throw out the dictionary, you aren't using it. (1)

Max Threshold (540114) | about a year and a half ago | (#41533369)

The main problem is that it would take billions of years to make a gram.

Re:throw out the dictionary, you aren't using it. (4, Interesting)

wierd_w (1375923) | about a year and a half ago | (#41532793)

I have seen videos of people using neutron capture with heavy isotopes of mercury to produce gold in fast breeder reactors as a proof of concept. Wikipedia gives a little information, but I really do remember seeing a demonstration with a teeny vial of centrifuged mercury being installed in the high flux compartment of the reactor, then removed several days later with thin inclusions of gold inside the vial.

http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Synthesis_of_precious_metals#section_4 [wikipedia.org]

Re:throw out the dictionary, you aren't using it. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41532971)

> The bacterium does not make the gold. It separates it from the gold chloride molecule.

It makes gold from gold chloride. It does not create gold since creation implies making something out of nothing. Since the title says "create" the title is wrong,
but you are not much more right either.

> I don't think anyone has set up a process to make gold successfully that way.
it's been done artificially.

Re:throw out the dictionary, you aren't using it. (1)

meerling (1487879) | about a year and a half ago | (#41533703)

It separates and concentrates the gold, it does not make it.
The problem is the person that wrote the title for the Slashdot article doesn't understand that 'produce' and 'create' do not always mean the same thing, and so screwed up the meaning of the article title by changing one word.

Re:throw out the dictionary, you aren't using it. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41533513)

Baking a cake using the correct ingredients does not make something out of nothing.

Nothing does.

Re:throw out the dictionary, you aren't using it. (1)

binarybum (468664) | about a year and a half ago | (#41533001)

make 1 [meyk] Show IPA verb, made, making, noun verb (used with object) 1. to bring into existence by shaping or changing material, combining parts, etc. i.e. He made that spoon from an even bigger spoon

F*cking alchemists how do THEY work? (5, Funny)

poity (465672) | about a year and a half ago | (#41532451)

And I don't wanna ask a scientist. Y'all mothafuckas lying, and gettin' me pissed!

Re:throw out the dictionary, you aren't using it. (1, Funny)

spitzak (4019) | about a year and a half ago | (#41533305)

Car companies don't make cars. They just rearrange molecules until they are formed into a car shape.

Re:throw out the dictionary, you aren't using it. (1)

1u3hr (530656) | about a year and a half ago | (#41533523)

Car companies don't make cars. They just rearrange molecules until they are formed into a car shape.

Nobody was rearranging protons and neutrons to form gold nuclei. Which is what "making gold" (or any other element) entails. They were just refining it.

Wrong section (5, Insightful)

cfalcon (779563) | about a year and a half ago | (#41532037)

Shouldn't we have a Newton up there instead of the Einstein?

This is the alchemy section right?

Personally (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41532589)

I was going to suggest Nicholas Flamel.

OOGA BOOG (-1, Redundant)

MobileTatsu-NJG (946591) | about a year and a half ago | (#41532045)

Super Bacteria Create Gold

Me use fire, melt gold!

Re:OOGA BOOG (5, Informative)

Sardak (773761) | about a year and a half ago | (#41532253)

Interestingly, bacteria is the plural form of bacterium, so there's nothing really wrong in the sense you imply. I'm more concerned with the fact that they're apparently not actually creating gold.

Darn it! (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41532061)

I was thrilled until I heard it makes gold out of gold chloride. So, it extracts existing gold.

Re:Darn it! (5, Funny)

ceoyoyo (59147) | about a year and a half ago | (#41532227)

You thought they'd found bacteria that can do nuclear fusion maybe?

Re:Darn it! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41532825)

Actually, yes - that is what the title "bacteria create gold" means. To find out that it just precipitates gold from a solution already containing said gold - and the scientist claiming that is "alchemy" is really bogus on multiple levels.

Re:Darn it! (1)

BryanL (93656) | about a year and a half ago | (#41532889)

If Nibblonians can crap dark matter, why not?

Re:Darn it! (1)

rubycodez (864176) | about a year and a half ago | (#41533277)

but they have to eat enormous quantities of regular baryonic cattle to do that. Do you realize how many hogs and cows it takes to crap a trip to the nearest star?

I don't spend my time calculating such things. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41533381)

Do you?

Re:Darn it! (1)

1u3hr (530656) | about a year and a half ago | (#41533537)

You thought they'd found bacteria that can do nuclear fusion maybe?

I thought maybe Pons and Fleischmann had claimed to, anyway.

Misleading headline (5, Informative)

DoofusOfDeath (636671) | about a year and a half ago | (#41532063)

They're not creating the element gold from another element, they're extracting it from a compound.

Re:Misleading headline (1)

Blue Stone (582566) | about a year and a half ago | (#41532107)

And additionally, the usefulness of this will depend on how abundant and accessible Gold-Chloride is.

Re:Misleading headline (5, Informative)

ceoyoyo (59147) | about a year and a half ago | (#41532301)

Gold Chloride is not naturally occurring and expensive to make. If you managed to get hold of some gold chloride and decided for some reason you wanted the gold metal out of it, you could mix it with hydrogen peroxide or pretty much any reducing agent and get gold without having to wait a week. Or you could just heat it up on an ordinary stove (but don't breathe in).

This is performance art, nothing more.

Re:Misleading headline (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41532885)

Gold Chloride is not naturally occurring and expensive to make. If you managed to get hold of some gold chloride and decided for some reason you wanted the gold metal out of it, you could mix it with hydrogen peroxide or pretty much any reducing agent and get gold without having to wait a week. Or you could just heat it up on an ordinary stove (but don't breathe in).

This is performance art, nothing more.

You are missing the point. Gold Chloride does form naturally. It is in ocean water at levels between 15-75 ppt. Are you going to boil all of the ocean water to extract the gold? Have you heard of bioremediation?

Re:Misleading headline (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41532115)

Correct. The only way gold is created naturally is in supernovae.

Re:Misleading headline (0)

neghvar1 (1705616) | about a year and a half ago | (#41532169)

if it was creating gold from a cheap abundant element, this technology and research would be destroyed and the scientists involved, killed. Such technology would radically change the global market and such change is greatly feared and those with the power will do everything possible to prevent the change of the status quo. Legal or illegal

Re:Misleading headline (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41532247)

Or the price of gold would plummet, some products that used a lesser alternative due to cost will switch to gold, and people needing a different store of value would just switch to something else. People investing in gold are taking some finite risk that a bunch of gold gets dumped on the market at some point anyways (whether from a new mine, or some previous holder selling).

Re:Misleading headline (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41532277)

Your critical thinking skills are not welcome here!

Re:Misleading headline (2)

sjames (1099) | about a year and a half ago | (#41532491)

Some of those people with a substantial investment might just be willing to 'mitigate' their risk...

Re:Misleading headline (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41533405)

Well, you could risk getting caught doing such "mitigation" techniques, followed by risking someone else discovering the method, and in the best of cases be subject to the risks of a normal market. Or, you could just short sell and buy other options knowing the price will drop and make a crap ton of money that can then be used to go back to one of the remaining mundane markets.

Re:Misleading headline (5, Funny)

camperdave (969942) | about a year and a half ago | (#41532293)

This was known to the Illuminati ages ago. Why do you think they ordered the US to get off the gold standard. They knew it would be worthless soon.

Not really 'alchemy'.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41532075)

..But as close as anyone ever got.

Its more like 'using bacteria to rearrange atoms'

Uh oh... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41532081)

Watch out, Monster Cable. They're coming for you.

rarity? (1)

neghvar1 (1705616) | about a year and a half ago | (#41532105)

Ok, so gold chloride, a worthless substance, can be converted to gold. Now, how abundant or rare is gold chloride?

Re:rarity? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41533601)

Worthless?

I'd venture that goes for $1700/oz., give or take.

Gold-chloride found in nature? (4, Interesting)

ZombieBraintrust (1685608) | about a year and a half ago | (#41532111)

gold-chloride (a natural forming toxic liquid),

Where is gold-chloride found in nature? A quick google search and all I could find were descriptions describing gold-chloride as something created in a lab.

Re:Gold-chloride found in nature? (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41532165)

Yes it's only created in a lab - and it's extremely expensive to create. But this finding will allow gold chloride makers to recoup some of their investment, and once they realize some economies of scale I'm sure they can make a profit.

Re:Gold-chloride found in nature? (1)

Obfuscant (592200) | about a year and a half ago | (#41532439)

Yes it's only created in a lab - and it's extremely expensive to create.

That's because the alchemists who create it have to change half the original gold into chlorine so one hogshead of gold becomes one half hogshead of gold and one half hogshead of chlorine. Those then react to form AuCl. Or AuCl2. Whatever.

This is all nonsense. The bacteria are not "bacterial alchemy", or alchemy of any kind. It's a disgrace when scientists make such ludicrous statements.

Re:Gold-chloride found in nature? (2)

khallow (566160) | about a year and a half ago | (#41532617)

As has been already noted, there are far cheaper, faster, and more effective means for extracting gold from gold chloride than any organism can accomplish. Even just heating up gold chloride works.

Re:Gold-chloride found in nature? (3, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41532261)

They mean this, I believe.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chloroauric_acid

Basically, you use an acid, (aqua regia) to dissolve the gold so you can harvest it from hard-to-get areas, such as microscopic electrical traces on a circuit board, and then you use this to get it back out of solution.

Re:Gold-chloride found in nature? (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41532297)

to create gold-chloride, dissolve solid gold into a chlorine solution under 100 atmospheres of pressure at 10000C for a 168 hours.

So to create gold using these bacteria it takes 100,000 joules of energy to convert 1 oz. of gold into gold-chlorine and then wait a week to get back .9 oz. of gold from the bacteria.

Cool, where do I sign up? :)

I think we need to get Bernie Madeoff to manage the business, he has lots of experience with this.

Re:Gold-chloride found in nature? (1)

sjames (1099) | about a year and a half ago | (#41532511)

If the gold in question is in the form of plating or microscopic particles embedded in rock, it might just pay off.

Re:Gold-chloride found in nature? (2)

darkfeline (1890882) | about a year and a half ago | (#41532381)

Though you may not know, labs are the natural habitat of the strange creatures we know as scientists. These ecosystems are known to form in proximity to technologically advanced societies.

Re:Gold-chloride found in nature? (5, Interesting)

Grayhand (2610049) | about a year and a half ago | (#41533075)

gold-chloride (a natural forming toxic liquid),

Where is gold-chloride found in nature? A quick google search and all I could find were descriptions describing gold-chloride as something created in a lab.

I think this was done as a what if experiment and has no practical use. The point though is if you can create a bacteria that will concentrate gold in either industrial or natural compounds if could be very useful. Right now mercury is the main element used in processing gold ore. Japan started extracting gold from sewage. I thought it was a silly idea until I heard how much they extracted. I'm not sure what the source of the gold is, old fillings wearing or naturally occurring but they did get a respectable amount from the sewage. Most of the world's available gold is actually suspended in seawater. The downside is it costs more to extract it than the gold is worth. Say you develop a bacteria that seeks out and absorbs gold then sinks to the bottom of the tank. You could over time end up with a coating of gold on the tank bottom. A similar process has been developed for removing radioactive elements from drinking water.

Reality TV producers are better than bacteria (5, Funny)

PolygamousRanchKid (1290638) | about a year and a half ago | (#41532127)

They seem to be able to create cash for themselves from shit.

Re:Reality TV producers are better than bacteria (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41532161)

Oh, I know... for example Honey Boo Boo is pure trash tv gold.

Conversion != Production (1)

hutsell (1228828) | about a year and a half ago | (#41532167)

Interesting in itself, but if I'm understanding the TFA's properly, converting Gold from an undesirable form to something mainstream isn't "production" in the historical sense desired by the Alchemists--later learned by the physicist of the 20th century to involve altering the atomic nucleus (involving fusion or fission).

Re:Conversion != Production (1)

Maow (620678) | about a year and a half ago | (#41532295)

Interesting in itself, but if I'm understanding the TFA's properly, converting Gold from an undesirable form to something mainstream isn't "production" in the historical sense desired by the Alchemists--later learned by the physicist of the 20th century to involve altering the atomic nucleus (involving fusion or fission).

Thank you - I came here to say something similar - this is not producing gold, it seems to be isolating it.

For creating gold, a little more input energy is thought to be required:

From Wikipedia [wikipedia.org]:

Like all elements with atomic numbers larger than iron, gold is thought to have been formed from a supernova nucleosynthesis process.

Re:Conversion != Production (1)

hutsell (1228828) | about a year and a half ago | (#41532721)

Properly exploited, they could have been used to power our planet.
Fortunately, it failed to be true.
Imagine -- the awesomeness of the greatly feared -- bacteria with nuclear powered butts.

Environmental Impact? (3, Informative)

Tough Love (215404) | about a year and a half ago | (#41532177)

Not a lot said about environmental impact. Heap leaching [wikipedia.org] is a famously effective way to poison streams and destroy large tracts of forest.

Seawater (4, Interesting)

frovingslosh (582462) | about a year and a half ago | (#41532209)

Wouldn't it make more sense to create bacteria that can extract the gold known to exist in seawater, or some other abundant source, than to come up with this publicity grabbing but overall worthless trick?

Not really practical (5, Informative)

ortholattice (175065) | about a year and a half ago | (#41532267)

Gold chloride [wikipedia.org] isn't exactly of "no value" - it is more expensive than the gold it contains (about $100 per gram of gold content). And bacteria aren't needed; from the wiki article it appears that simply temperature-cycling it betwen >160C and >420C a few times will remove the chlorine and leave pure gold. In short, the purpose of this project is artistic and/or political, possibly biologically interesting, but not necessarily of practical value.

Re:Not really practical (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41532573)

simply temperature-cycling it betwen >160C and >420C a few times will remove the chlorine and leave pure gold.

Or just add any trivial reductant (citric acid, for example) after heating to ~ 60C. One of the simplest, and most beautiful reactions to observe.

Re:Not really practical (1)

dcrisp (267918) | about a year and a half ago | (#41532623)

Heating Material, any material, up to 420C, takes a large amount of energy and thus expense. If you can develop a microbe that will perform this operation without the massive amount of input energy then you can save a lot of money. I'm unsure what the time costs are but there would be an argument that throwing a microbe into a vat of Gold Chrloide for a week COULD be cheaper than the heat cycle.

Re:Not really practical (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41532929)

temperature-cycling it betwen >160C and >420C a few times will remove the chlorine and leave pure gold.

Why that's Alchemy!!!

How, Exactly, is this Creating Gold? (1)

EmagGeek (574360) | about a year and a half ago | (#41532325)

It seems to me the bacteria are just stripping off the chloride and leaving the gold behind. The gold is already there, so how it is being "created?"

TOO LATE!!! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41532411)

3D printers will soon be just like Star Trek replicators. We'll just go to Home Depot and get quark juice as the feedstock (that's all Home Depot will stock in the future), and the 3D nanofusor will assemble whatever elements you want in any configuration you want!

New Slashdot (3, Insightful)

poity (465672) | about a year and a half ago | (#41532501)

1. Get sold (again)
2. Make 1 out of every 5 articles a troll
3. Profit

Seriously, though, Torvalds dirty mouth, Glenn Beck article, now "WE GOT ALKEMEE GOIN' ON HERE YO!"
Wild week of trolling at Slashdot.

Re:New Slashdot (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41533283)

One out of every five would be an improvement.

It's not creating gold... (1)

J'raxis (248192) | about a year and a half ago | (#41532565)

...but I suppose blatantly lying in headlines and article blurbs gets people to read your articles.

Modern Day Alchemy (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41532567)

With the high powered particle accelerators, x-rays, radiation, and lasers you would think that there should be some way to use that stuff to convert mercury into gold (or some other chemical reaction) We have a lot more information now and it is an easy way to make lots of money until the bankers and government comes after you for devaluing all of the gold.

Re:Modern Day Alchemy (1)

rubycodez (864176) | about a year and a half ago | (#41533299)

you are so funny, lead to gold done over half a century ago with particle accelerators. tens of thousands of dollars worth of electricity to produce an amount of gold that couldn't even be rightfully called a speck.

Reason for everything (1)

Aauin (2633663) | about a year and a half ago | (#41532717)

Now get that bacteria to convert a substance from something to GRAPHENE, and you my friends have bypassed the problem facing todays most amazing substance known currently to man.

Either Stupid or Misleading (1)

nixed3 (1586839) | about a year and a half ago | (#41532767)

This might be the most misleading headline I have ever read on slashdot. I don't post too often but I have no mod points and I felt compelled to add my voice to the chorus that this article has nothing to do with "creating" gold. The bacteria refine the gold into a pure form from a gold-chloride compound. Bacteria creating an element? Come on now, that's pretty silly.

Re:Either Stupid or Misleading (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41533349)

Blatant lies are actually fairly common in Slashdot headlines.
It's just a reflection of the sad state of journalism.

Gold Standard (1)

DarkHelmet (120004) | about a year and a half ago | (#41532787)

I find some kind of satisfaction in seeing this sort of thing become widespread.
In this case, it would make a "return to the gold standard" be absolutely worthless.

Re:Gold Standard (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41533679)

So your evil plan to plan to trash a proposed gold standard is to take a substance that costs $2800/oz and convert it to another substance that's worth $1700/oz?

Brilliant!

This should be no surprise to anyone (1)

Crypto Gnome (651401) | about a year and a half ago | (#41533173)

Once Again The Creationists have gotten things astoundingly wrong.

The process of extracting the gold from gold-chloride is clearly NOT "creation" in any sense of the word.

The ONLY "creation" going on in relation to this article is the CREATION of an obscene amount of HYPE over a somewhat interesting but otherwise irrelevant bacterium.

Philosopher's Stone (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41533185)

For a moment there I thought we have found the Philosopher's Stone..

don't need bacteria, throw in iron or h2o2 (1)

rubycodez (864176) | about a year and a half ago | (#41533191)

Iron (FE 2+ specifically) or hygrogen peroxide will cause the gold to precipitate out

Slow News Day or WHAT? (4, Informative)

Crypto Gnome (651401) | about a year and a half ago | (#41533289)

or perhaps we just need to fire the current squadron of editors?

original article Here [sciencedaily.com] (NB from 2009) in which Australian scientists discover the gold-nugget-forming action of this bacteria.

uh oh! (1)

slashmydots (2189826) | about a year and a half ago | (#41533321)

Aaaaaaaaand there goes the gold bubbles. Bye bye paranoid investor morons that buy high. Whether this is real or not, this is the big supply side boost that kills the idiotically high gold bubble.

25x stronger? (1)

WillyWanker (1502057) | about a year and a half ago | (#41533347)

"The bacteria is Cupriavidus metallidurans, which is conditioned to be tolerant to heavy, toxic metals and to be 25 times stronger than most bacteria."

What could possibly go wrong?

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