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Growing Your Own Gold

timothy posted more than 10 years ago | from the requires-patience dept.

Biotech 64

An anonymous reader submits: "Scientists believe it may be possible to grow gold like growing potatoes. Time to throw away my IT degree and go back to being a primary producer!"

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Dang it (4, Funny)

clausiam (609879) | more than 10 years ago | (#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

How big? (0)

Mr. Underbridge (666784) | more than 10 years ago | (#8114718)

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.

McDonalds Golden Fries (1)

AtariAmarok (451306) | more than 10 years ago | (#8112514)

...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)

From the article.. (3, Funny)

ewhenn (647989) | more than 10 years ago | (#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.

Re:From the article.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8112554)

Yeah, but wait utill you see what happens when the microbes UNIONIZE...

Re:From the article.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8114215)

...growing gold is no longer a functioning business plan

What better reason than to IPO? :)

Re:From the article.. (1)

iggymanz (596061) | more than 10 years ago | (#8116979)

ahhh, but then I can use a technique perfected by U.S. farmers to apply for a government subsidy to NOT grow gold like potatoes.

Re:From the article.. (1)

corbettw (214229) | more than 10 years ago | (#8132607)

gold is no longer a functioning business plan

Hmm, but what if you harnessed the power of the Internet? I smell a winner!

Hey Dan Quayle! (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8112539)

"An anonymous reader submits: "Scientists believe it may be possible to grow gold like growing potatoes"

Dan, speak up. You don't have to be anonymous. It's safe to come out now. Everyone's now using those "stupid politician jokes" on GW Bush these days.

Re:Hey Dan Quayle! (1, Informative)

tiled_rainbows (686195) | more than 10 years ago | (#8113544)

Actually, that is how you spell "Potatoes". It's the plural of "potato". People made fun of Quayle because he spelt "potato" "potatoe", which is wrong. As wrong as "potatos" (which is also wrong). Like, the plural of "hero" is "heroes", and "heroe" and "heros" are both wrong

Re:Hey Dan Quayle! (3, Funny)

RobertB-DC (622190) | more than 10 years ago | (#8114691)

Like, the plural of "hero" is "heroes", and "heroe" and "heros" are both wrong

However, the plural of "gyro" (the sandwich, rhymes with "hero") is "gyros" [1 [reference.com] ]. Oddly, though, the plural of "gyro" (short for "gyroscope") is also listed as "gyros", though I would think it should be "gyroes"

When I say them out loud, I can hear a long sound like "oes" in "heroes", where I hear a more clipped "os" in "gyros" -- though maybe that's just my trying to add a Greek accent. When I say "gyroes" out loud, emphasizing the "y" with a Texas drawl, it really sounds like an "oes". And my co-workers look over the cube walls to see what form of dementia I'm currently exhibiting.

Potatoes, gyros, heroes... All this posting is making me hungry. Time for lunch.

Re:Hey Dan Quayle! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8121390)

Actually the common use for "gyro" when referring to the greek pita sandwich OR just the meat, is gyros. Very seldom will you see a greek retaurant that has a "gyro" listed on their menu, but rather gyros. But as for it rhyming with hero, you're correct. yee-rows

Re:Hey Dan Quayle! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8114164)

Yo, dumbass. The plural of potato IS potatoes. Quayle's mistake was spelling the singular form "potatoe." Learn English. [m-w.com]

Unspoken (4, Informative)

cgenman (325138) | more than 10 years ago | (#8112547)

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 (2, Interesting)

rpresser (610529) | more than 10 years ago | (#8112570)

Any chance this could be adapted to sea life? There's a hell of a lot of gold dissolved in our oceans...

Re:Unspoken (2, Interesting)

The Evil Couch (621105) | more than 10 years ago | (#8113113)

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.

Re:Unspoken (1)

spitefulcrow (713858) | more than 10 years ago | (#8114289)

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?

Re:Unspoken (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8114755)

I agree. In particular, the IANA abbreviations should be omitted, because nobody actually thinks you (the generic you) know what you're talking about. No one thinks you're a lawyer on slashdot.

Re:Unspoken (1)

hoggoth (414195) | more than 10 years ago | (#8118570)

> 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!

Re:Unspoken (1)

some guy I know (229718) | more than 10 years ago | (#8121131)

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.)

Re:Unspoken (1)

qeveren (318805) | more than 10 years ago | (#8145536)

He could have just typed "!SME" or something simple like that... :D

Re:Unspoken (2, Interesting)

Muhammar (659468) | more than 10 years ago | (#8118202)

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.

Re:Unspoken (1)

AKAImBatman (238306) | more than 10 years ago | (#8113299)

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 (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8113717)

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. ;)

Re:Unspoken (1)

AKAImBatman (238306) | more than 10 years ago | (#8113778)

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... (3, Interesting)

pb (1020) | more than 10 years ago | (#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... (2, Insightful)

Sparr0 (451780) | more than 10 years ago | (#8112591)

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.

maybe one day, (1)

pb (1020) | more than 10 years ago | (#8113092)

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.

Re:maybe one day, (1)

Sparr0 (451780) | more than 10 years ago | (#8113573)

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.

Re:maybe one day, (1)

mph (7675) | more than 10 years ago | (#8116937)

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.

Re:what they do... (1)

torpor (458) | more than 10 years ago | (#8113767)

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' ...

Anyone notice the .au domain? (5, Funny)

andawyr (212118) | more than 10 years ago | (#8112565)

Takers anyone? Periodic table symbo AU is the symbol for what? Gold.

Coincidence, but funny nonetheless.

Re:Anyone notice the .au domain? (1)

TwistedGreen (80055) | more than 10 years ago | (#8113174)

Coincidence? Rubbish! It's a conspiracy!

*dons his gold-foil hat*

Re:Anyone notice the .au domain? (1)

irving47 (73147) | more than 10 years ago | (#8113876)

Now I want potato.au

Re:Anyone notice the .au domain? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8117684)

GrowYourOwn.au

Only Gold? (4, Insightful)

MissMarvel (723385) | more than 10 years ago | (#8112847)

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? (3, Informative)

Mangal (745519) | more than 10 years ago | (#8113387)

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 how to do this effectively, either. Leaving the metals behind would defeat the purpose. The bioengineers will have to construct bacteria that work significantly faster, I think, to make soil remediation via bacterial activity feasible.

Re:Only Gold? (2, Funny)

mOdQuArK! (87332) | more than 10 years ago | (#8114025)

That's all we need - bacteria & fungi which collect critical masses of uranium out of the soil.

Re:Only Gold? (1)

SirTreveyan (9270) | more than 10 years ago | (#8115345)

I bet they will do a bang up job of it too...

Re:Only Gold? (1)

adoll (184191) | more than 10 years ago | (#8116530)

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 would be natural places for the gold flakes to be squeezed into nuggets that then are then washed away and rounded.

Yes, I am a mining engineer currently working on a silver poject when I'm not trolling Slashdot.

-AD

how appropriate (3, Funny)

TheSnakeMan (59408) | more than 10 years ago | (#8112850)

Does anyone else find it funny that the link was to a .au site?

Re:how appropriate (1)

originalTMAN (694813) | more than 10 years ago | (#8113215)

would you rather have .ogg?

Re:how appropriate (1)

Echnin (607099) | more than 10 years ago | (#8113979)

You were sleeping in chemistry class, weren't you?

Re:how appropriate (1)

originalTMAN (694813) | more than 10 years ago | (#8117665)

I learned by osmosis :-)

Re:how appropriate (1)

cmstremi (206046) | more than 10 years ago | (#8136412)

You sure you learned anything?

Re:how appropriate (1)

originalTMAN (694813) | more than 10 years ago | (#8138386)

I'm not sure. I was asleep.

Re:how appropriate (1)

MoonBuggy (611105) | more than 10 years ago | (#8117932)

Ahh, it's nice to be reminded I'm on a site where the scientifically minded are the majority :-D

It's taken off some of the shock I just had from seeing 'I'm a celebrity, get me out of here' pop up on the TV ;-)

seawater and gold. (1)

torpor (458) | more than 10 years ago | (#8113749)

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.

Re:seawater and gold. (1)

Bagels (676159) | more than 10 years ago | (#8117794)

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.

Re:seawater and gold. (1)

Mangal (745519) | more than 10 years ago | (#8118851)

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.

THREE WORDS (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8114351)

FUCK YOU, NIGGER!

Ummmm....bad idea economically (1, Insightful)

tekiegreg (674773) | more than 10 years ago | (#8114705)

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....

It works for Diamonds... (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8115174)

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.

Re:Ummmm....bad idea economically (2, Insightful)

geoswan (316494) | more than 10 years ago | (#8115937)

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] .

Re:Ummmm....bad idea economically (1)

Idarubicin (579475) | more than 10 years ago | (#8121097)

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 major currencies of the world (US dollar, Euro, Yen, GB Pound, etc.) are not backed by gold as they would have been decades or centuries ago. Without question there are still individuals, corporations, and governments that maintain some of their wealth in the form of gold bullion or other precious metals, but most don't (or shouldn't have!) put all of their eggs in one basket.

Compare the inconvenience and hardship suffered as a result of these temporary economic dislocations with the industrial benefits of having large amounts of low-cost gold available. Gold is incredible stuff--nearly completely corrosion resistant, hypoallergenic, malleable, ductile, electrically conductive...

To take a historical example, at the beginning of the twentieth century, the world's largest supply of nitrates came from Chilean saltpeter. There were concerns about the supply running out--Chile supplied something like 60% of the world's nitrates, but those mines were not bottomless. Chilean mining cartels also felt no qualms about gouging the Allies in World War One. Highly unfortunate this was, because the nitrates sourced there were used to produce fertilizers and explosives--both staples of twentieth century life.

The development of the Haber process [princeton.edu] to generate ammonia directly from nitrogen and hydrogen gases changed that. Since the availability of nitrogen fertilizer was no longer limited by the availability of saltpeter deposits, modern agriculture became possible. Also, since any industrialized nation can build their own ammonia plants, the price of nitrates is no longer fixed by a mining cartel.

So--sometimes technological advances can have an economic effect. What does this have to do with jobs moving to India?

Re:Ummmm....bad idea economically (1)

DigiShaman (671371) | more than 10 years ago | (#8121799)

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?

That would explain why... (1)

SirTreveyan (9270) | more than 10 years ago | (#8115237)

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 (1)

IntergalacticWalrus (720648) | more than 10 years ago | (#8115453)

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

All right, who let those "scientists" escape from the mental institute?

Georgius Agicola said it first (4, Interesting)

geoswan (316494) | more than 10 years ago | (#8115658)

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.)

Re:Georgius Agicola said it first (1)

OECD (639690) | more than 10 years ago | (#8119049)

Agricola explained that gold grew in the ground, like the roots of trees...(snip)...Like Nicholas Copernicus he translated his name into Latin

Unlike Nicholas, he had a sense of humor: "Agricola" is latin for "farmer".

Re:Georgius Agicola said it first (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8121693)

Unlike Nicholas, he had a sense of humor: "Agricola" is latin for "farmer".

Simple happenstance: "Bauer", his real name, is German for farmer.

Re:Georgius Agicola said it first (1)

obeythefist (719316) | more than 10 years ago | (#8120972)

Written in 1556, by a German, in Latin

The RIAA will still sue, Metallica, as proven many times in the past, belongs to them.

I, for one.. (2, Funny)

SiliconAddict (690343) | more than 10 years ago | (#8122492)

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