Bling! Researchers create 24k gold in the lab


A close-up of gold flecks, created by science! (Click to enlarge.)


(Credit:
G.L. Kohuth
)

To put it lightly, something sensational happens upon feeding large concentrations of toxic gold chloride (also known as liquid gold) to the bacteria Cupriavidus metallidurans. After about a week’s time, the bacterium creates a 24-karat gold nugget from the digested toxins.

“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 at Michigan State University, where the research is taking place.


Gold formulating in the bioreactor.


(Credit:
G.L. Kohuth
)

Don’t get too excited, though, as the inventors describe the process as cost-prohibitive on a larger scale. Nonetheless, successfully creating gold in this way does raise questions about potential economic impact, as well as ethical queries regarding reverse-engineering natural processes.

Kashefi collaborated with associate professor Adam Brown on the project, officially known as “The Great Work of the Metal Lover.” A portable laboratory made of 24-karat gold-plated hardware, a glass bioreactor, and the Trumpian bacteria stands on display at the Prix Ars Electronica cyber art competition in Austria until October 7.

“This is neo-alchemy. Every part, every detail of the project is a cross between modern microbiology and alchemy,” Brown said. “Science tries to explain the phenomenological world. As an artist, I’m trying to create a phenomenon. Art has the ability to push scientific inquiry.”


This bioreactor, part of an art exhibit, uses a gold-fiending bacteria and gold chloride to create real 24-karat gold.


(Credit:
G.L. Kohuth
)

Article source: http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/cnet/pRza/~3/8Ne_7w2WTMM/

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