Bio · Earthly/Geo/Astro · Science

Cosmic bling: When two dead stars collide, gold is created.

The announcement was short. It lasted only a fraction of second — a blink of an eye. But a spacecraft in Earth’s orbit, keeping an eye on such events, captured it on June 3 this year. The announcement may have been brief, but it told us that two exotic dead stars, called neutron stars, have collided with each other. This is a relatively rare event, but it bears good news for the merchants in the Sona bazaar. This collision has created gold — lots of it.

But before you head over to Sona bazaar, you should know that this particular collision happened in a galaxy so far away that it has taken light — traveling at a stupendous speed of 186,000 miles every second — four billion years to reach us! In astronomical terms, this collision happened in a galaxy four billion light-years away. In comparison, light from our Sun gets to us in 8 minutes, and is therefore only 8 light-minutes away. The distance of billions of light-years doesn’t intimidate astronomers, as they routinely study events and objects that are even farther away than this particular galaxy. The significance of this event, however, resides in the fact that for the first time, astronomers have been able to study light from collisions that may help us understand the way elements like gold are created in the universe.

Before we get too caught up in the cosmic glamour, we should remember that almost all of the elements that make our bodies were cooked up inside the stars: the carbon in our DNA, oxygen in our lungs, and iron in our blood. Hydrogen in the water molecule, on the other hand, is a leftover from processes in the early history of the universe. The classic quote from the late astronomer Carl Sagan is indeed true: “We are made up of star stuff”.

Excerpt from an article written by Salman Hameed at the IHT. Continue THERE

Art/Aesthetics · Bio · Design · Science · Technology

The Great Work of the Metal Lover: A strain of bacteria that POOPS GOLD

Historically, Magnum Opus, or The Great Work, was an alchemical process that incorporated a personal, spiritual and chemical method for creating the Philosopher’s Stone, a mysterious red colored substance that was capable of transmuting base matter into the noble metal of gold. Discovering the principals of the Philosopher’s Stone was one of the defining and at the same time seemingly unobtainable objectives of Western alchemy.

The Great Work of the Metal Lover is an artwork that sits at the intersection of art, science and alchemy, re-examining the problem of transmutation through the use of modern microbiological practice and thus solving the ancient riddle.

Gold production is accomplished by the pairing of a highly specialized metallotolerant extremophilic bacterium and an engineered atmosphere contained within a customized alchemical bioreactor. The extreme minimal ecosystem within the bioreactor forces the bacteria to metabolize high concentrations of toxic AuCl3 (gold chloride), turning soluble gold into usable 24K gold.

All text and Images via Adam Brown. Continue THERE

Design · Fashion · Science

Periodic Bling

ITSNONAME (INN) is an American husband and wife design brand. With over 20 years collective experience within the art, graphic design, interactive design, fashion & advertising industries, the duo takes cues from nature and science to deliver intuitive design creations.

Art/Aesthetics · Bio · Science · Technology

Genetically modified bacteria and yeast can make gold, pharmaceutical compounds and fuels.

When Michigan State University artist Adam Brown learned of a type of bacteria, Cupriavidus metallidurans, that can extract pure gold from the toxic solution gold chloride (a totally artificial salt), he hurried to an expert colleague, microbiologist Kazem Kashefi, with a question: “Is it possible to make enough gold to put in the palm of my hand?” Brown merely wanted to satisfy his intellectual and artistic curiosity, inspired by the gold-tinted roots of alchemy, the precursor of modern chemistry.

Soon thereafter, Kashefi and Brown set to work designing a half-experiment, half-art-exhibit that exposes C. metallidurans to gold chloride in a hydrogen-gas-rich atmosphere that serves as a source of food. Over the course of a week, the bacteria gradually strip-mined the toxic liquid, leaving flecks of pure 24-karat gold behind.

The inefficient technique won’t supplant traditional mining, but the idea of using microbes as production facilities for a range of rare and difficult-to-produce materials has been gaining traction over the past several years.

Excerpt from an article written by Gregory Mone at Discover. Continue HERE

Escherichia coli. Science Photo Library/Pennsylvania State University