May 17

FUCK YEAH SCIENCE! – There’s Gold In Them Thar Cornholes!

Hello once again readers, dilettantes and those of you who otherwise wandered tho this page. Sometimes in this life we get caught up in things that, well, just make us depressed and cynical. News recently of overzealous cops killing a guy in California, the ever-deepening clusterfuck that is Syria, the news that carbon dioxide concentrations in the atmosphere continue to go up and, of course, good, old-fashioned gub’mint black-ops sweeps and wiretaps; this all comes together to yank most people’s minds into a shame spiral of depression that can make even the most annoyingly bubbly almost lament being a member of the human species.

Sadly true; the photographer of the above image killed himself. (from imgur.com, cdn.com)

What’s a caucasian brotha, such as myself, to do with this constant barrage of shit that exists on our world? I could distract myself with obsessively following sports, persist in following the lives of celebrities or degenerate “reality” show stars, or drown in a sea of cute cat videos. But I am an even simpler man than all that, so just give me some shiny metal objects to look at and everything will be all better!



And for what it’s worth, the news about gold is actually good, at least this particular bit of news out of Northwestern University in Illinois. Researchers there have stumbled across a method for extracting gold using, of all things, corn starch. Why should this be good news? Well corn starch, as it turns out, is a lot less dangerous and toxic than the current method of extracting gold from ore which involves cyanide (a chemical not known for association with happiness, with one obvious exception.)

An article from Popular Science outlines the discovery. The research team, led by Sir Fraser Stoddart, came across this method researching a method for making cubes of gold and starch to contain gases and small molecules. From the article, “…A mixture of dissolved gold-bromide sales and a starch-derived sugar didn’t form cubes, it formed needles.” The team went on to replicate the experiment with the express purpose of extracting pure gold from the bromide salts. The chemistry behind it is a bit brain-farking, particularly because gold is known for its chemical inertness.

My theory is that it’s because corn is yellow. Like gold. Sound scientific reasoning as far as I’m concerned. (lifted from TheHealthyApron.com)

Again from the article, “Alpha-cyclodextrin, a cyclic starch fragment with six glucose molecules, is the best way to isolate gold. ‘[A postdoc named Zhichang Liu] stumbled on a piece of magic for isolating gold from anything in a green way,’ Stoddart says. The spontaneous bundle of needles is made of thousands of nanowires, each 1.3 nanometers in diameter, which contain a charged gold atom inside four bromine atoms.”

Some will go to great lengths to extract gold, as depicted above. Remember the Princess; it ain’t all about the skrilla. (sporked from another WordPress site.)

The cyanide process involves maintaining a heavily alkaline solution to avoid generating toxic hydrogen cyanide, but another deadly compound, lead nitrate is still involved. (More on the cyanide process can be found at Wikipedia!) The new process yields gold bromide which can be converted directly into recoverable gold using a reducing agent, with all the alpha-cyclodextrin being reusable after the reactions.

Apart from the obvious benefit of needing less harmful chemicals for the mining and extraction of gold, this method can also be used to selectively extract gold out of materials containing other metals like platinum, palladium, copper and silver. It could also make it a lot cheaper to recover gold from used electronics. So kids, hang onto your old motherboards and cellphones; they just might be worth something someday!

A photograph of my retirement account (from DigitalTrends.com)

For those with a more advanced grasp on chemistry, a more detailed article on this finding can be found here. And for the rest of us, “duhrp, GOLD!”

GOOOOAALLD! (Source: DesignYouTrust.com)