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Fun on Friday: You Gotta Pay These Bacteria to Work

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Will work for gold!

Who wouldn’t right? I don’t know about you, but I would work even harder for some gold than I would for dollars, knowing the Federal Reserve isn’t going to inflate the value of my gold away by 2% or more every year.

Well, apparently people aren’t the only organisms that know the value of gold. Scientists have discovered a bacterium that will work for us and actually help us create energy. But you have to pay it in gold.

OK. It’s probably not accurate to say this bacterium knows the value of gold. It’s like a lot of politicians. It doesn’t really know much of anything. It just does what it does. But this bacterium does what it does a lot better if you pay it in gold. Again – like a lot of politicians.

You know, now that I think about it, it’s probably not accurate to say the bacteria have to be paid in gold either. I mean, that’s kind of silly right? You don’t pay bacteria. You feed them. Duh. And this bacteria eats gold.

Now, this may sound odd. But is it? Really? I mean, some people eat gold. I’ve talked about it quite often in these Fun on Friday columns. Not too long ago, I told you about gold-dipped chicken wings. I’ve also told you about the golden goose and the LA steakhouse that will serve you a nicely cooked steak garnished with gold flakes. I even told you about an Indian caterer who responded to a couple’s request to “stun” their wedding guests by making them “poop gold.”

So, maybe eating gold is some kind of biological thing. I don’t really know. But I do know this: the gold-eating bacteria give you a much better return than golden poo. It actually uses the gold to create useful chemicals that in turn we can use to produce energy.

As Phys Org explained, “A bacterium named Moorella thermoacetica won’t work for free. But UC Berkeley researchers have figured out it has an appetite for gold. And in exchange for this special treat, the bacterium has revealed a more efficient path to producing solar fuels through artificial photosynthesis.”

Pretty cool, eh?

Researchers were basically able to turn this bacterium into a tiny photosynthesis machine, converting sunlight and carbon dioxide into useful chemicals.

Now Yang and his team of researchers have found a better way to entice this CO2-hungry bacterium into being even more productive. By placing light-absorbing gold nanoclusters inside the bacterium, they have created a biohybrid system that produces a higher yield of chemical products than previously demonstrated.”

Now, you might be thinking, so what? I know you people. You’re a tough crowd. Well…

By feeding bacteria with Au22 nanoclusters, we’ve effectively streamlined the electron transfer process for the CO2 reduction pathway inside the bacteria, as evidenced by a 2.86 percent quantum efficiency—or 33 percent more acetate produced within the M. thermoacetica-Au22 system than the CdS model.”

So there! Now you’re impressed, aren’t you?

Yeah. I don’t know what all that means either.

Here’s a video that will help clear up what’s going on.

No. That didn’t clear up anything for me either. But hey, I never claimed to be a scientist.

The bottom line is the gold nanoparticles trigger a cascade of reactions that eventually turn CO2 into acetate, a valuable chemical for making solar fuels. So, that’s a good thing on two levels – reducing CO2 and helping with solar fuel production.

This is another example of the growing use of gold in high-tech industries. I’m told gold might even help us find the space aliens!

In all seriousness, tech demand for both gold and silver will likely continue to increase over the next several decades. This could have a positive impact on the overall demand for these precious metals. If you want to find out more about that, you should call one of our SchiffGold precious metals specialists at 1-888-GOLD-160. Just for fun, you can ask them to explain that video. But you’ll probably have a more productive conversation if you speak with them about this video Peter Schiff released talking about the gold market.

Fun on Friday is a weekly SchiffGold feature. We dig up some of the off-the-wall and off-beat stories relating to precious metals and share them with you – with tongue firmly planted in cheek. Click here to read other posts in this series.

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About The Author

Michael Maharrey is the managing editor of the SchiffGold blog, and the host of the Friday Gold Wrap Podcast and It's Your Dime interview series.
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