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Thread: Gold/Platinum-eating microbe

  1. #61
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    where can it possibly get the organic chemicals needed to exist?
    Perhaps from a fingerprint or oil stain on the sensor. It doesn't take much carbon to support the slow growth of bacteria, and it's obvious that something out of the ordinary happened to this particular bit of gold and platinum. Even if the photos actually do show bacterial damage to the sensor, there's no need yet to claim that the bugs derive their energy, or metabolic components from pure gold. The damage might well result from the chemical action of the waste products of a perfectly ordinary anaerobe on the probe's thin gold coating.

  2. #62
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    Quote Originally Posted by Squink
    where can it possibly get the organic chemicals needed to exist?
    Perhaps from a fingerprint or oil stain on the sensor.
    Such an instance would be extremely rare and would not explain the natural life-cycle of this organism which is theorized to exist on gold wires in a 100% nitrogen environment. And if these microbes need some unusual circumstance, such as oil from fingerprints, to exist then I don't think the person who found these microbes should be too concerned about them causing wide-scale damage to gold wiring.

    It doesn't take much carbon to support the slow growth of bacteria
    Yes, and my point is that there is no carbon in this environment

    there's no need yet to claim that the bugs derive their energy, or metabolic components from pure gold. The damage might well result from the chemical action of the waste products of a perfectly ordinary anaerobe on the probe's thin gold coating.
    Waste products imply that the microbe is eating something. I can't speculate on what it could possibly be eating as I don't think anything can survive on just gold or nitrogen without some other mechanism for obtaining key organic elements such as carbon. I have some knowledge of chemistry I'm not a biochemist so I do not know if there are any special mechanisms for an organism to survive in such environments. Right now I'm very skeptical that there are any such mechanisms.

  3. #63
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    Such an instance would be extremely rare
    Yes, and my point is that there is no carbon in this environment
    Which is it, rare or none ? The sensor was rendered nonfunctional, and appears to have some sort of corrosion or growth. That failure itself is a rare event, so the phenomena which caused the failure is also rare. Improper degreasing before or after plating can cause adhesion problems for thin coatings. It can also provide substrate for bacterial growth. To decide what actually happened, you have to examine the damage.
    I can't speculate on what it could possibly be eating...
    I already have, and as a biochemist who’s grown more bacteria than you can shake a stick at, and seen them grow in some exceedingly odd environments, I’ve no problem with the possibility that bacteria are involved here. That’s not to say that these putative bugs are forming gold-based membranes, or using the metal as a primary electron source, but even some mundane terrestrial bacteria do corrode “inert” metals.

  4. #64
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    Good news for those still interested; Howard has given permission to make the explanatory drawing (200K; msword.doc) and three photos (683K total, including the 800X; all .jpg's) available. As this BB does not allow direct posting of pix (they must be at a website to do so), if you send a request to spud@nctimes.net , these will be answered in order received, as time allows.
    If you don't have MS Word, you can d/l a free Word Viewer here:
    http://volusia.org/word.htm
    "...Perhaps you would like to put this info up for your readers...I am sending a few more photos so those who can not see anything to
    evaluate, can, in their spare time tell the rest of us what this thing is.
    This first photo is the wire just a week after the Microbe started to eat
    into the gold coating and the Microbe was removed to show how it starts to
    eat down to the Platinum. (White lines point to holes on wire)

    The next photo is the 800x showing the red "glob" (Microbe?) when it first
    attached its self on the wire. (see two blue arrows)

    The third photo is after several weeks. Green lines point to the "Worm"
    and the Blue lines point to the wire (or what is left of it)..."---Howard

  5. #65
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    Quote Originally Posted by sarongsong
    "This first photo is the wire just a week after the Microbe started to eat into the gold coating and the Microbe was removed to show how it starts to eat down to the Platinum. (White lines point to holes on wire)..."---Howard
    Wait a minute ... the photographer is saying that the Microbe was removed? Did the photographer remove the microbe himself? Did he, perhaps, put it in a Petri dish to isolate it, or put it on a microscope slide and stain it? A picture of this microbe as an isolated organism would be of great interest to such an investigation.

  6. #66
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    when that man was told to keep his mouth shut, im sure the conversation went like this:
    "Hey, look at this! it eats gold! come have a look!"
    "keep your mouth shut! we did you a favour by removing you from the Institution... but we can put you back anytime!"
    "im sorry"

    hmmm, this microbe thing is interesting, though.
    "Scott, where is your homework!?"
    "well, see, theres this homework microbe..."
    (p.s: i read most of this thread, but did skip a few, so i apologise if im repeating things others have said.)

  7. #67
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    Okay, the pix are posted:
    http://nctimes.net/~jimbud/Golbset

  8. #68
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    Hmmm ... okay, if the caption on the upper-right picture is accurate, it does look like there's something "pitting" the wire (assuming the removal process he used didn't make its own gouges into the wire's surface).

    What makes him think that this is a microbe and not just a spot on the wire where the gold coating happened to be extremely thin and a conventional non-living corrosive agent worked its way in?

  9. #69
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    I still don't unserstand why this has to be a microbe. As TriangleMan pointed out, there would be no nutritional value in eating gold or platinum. All life-forms we know of are carbon based. Gold and platinum are pure elements and cannot be broken down into anything of value for life, including sucrose, carbon, hydrogen, oxygen, water, glucose, or fructose.
    Also, why would it require a 100% nitrogen atmosphere?

    That would:
    a) preclude the microbes from existence practically anywhere
    b) raise serious questions as to where it evolved

    where can it possibly get the organic chemicals needed to exist?
    Perhaps from a fingerprint or oil stain on the sensor.
    Even so, that would show that the microbe does not subsist on gold or platinum. The pictures I've seen so far have been questionably identified. I have yet to see a picture with a characteristic of life. I'm not a biologist either, but I have a pretty good idea of what a microbe should look like, and that does not look eukaryotic or prokaryotic to me.

    Why does figure 1 show a microbe eating gold? Assuming the object in question is a gold-coated wire, it looks more to me like a spot or maybe just a microbe residing on it. Figure 2 does not prove it was eating it. The microbe, if that's what it was, could have been secreting corrosive chemicals but I still do not see why it would attempt to eat gold. Here is where my lack of true biology knowledge comes in; I'm more into the astronomical part of the question. Suffice it to say that these are probably just badly identified photos.

    "The above and below images show a "Worm" or microbe eating the wire of a Liquid Nitrogen Apollo Space Craft Fuel Sensor...This thing will destroy any Gold or Platinum computer part on any space craft or probe. If on board a Probe that lands on a planet that has a Nitrogen atmosphere it could contaminate that planet and also provide a false discovery of "Life" on the planet
    First, there was no liquid nitrogen on Apollo spacecraft. They carried liquid oxygen and liquid hydrogen, but not liquid nitrogen. Early in the space race, the Soviets decided to pressurize their spacecraft with nitrogren and oxygen but the Americans opted for pure oxygen, which alloweda lower partial pressure and therefor less weight to carry into space. Also, from what I have seen, even if this microbe did eat gold and platinum, it does not make huge holes in the objects. If this thing really subsists in pure nitrogen, it would die either in space or on a planet. Yes, microbes survived on Surveyor 3 and were brought back to Earth on Apollo 12, but they were in a spore form, certainly not active. And since it would be virtually impossible to have an atmosphere made wholly of nitrogen, then I do not see why this microbe would take over an entire planet. Certainly it is not a threat anywhere in our solar system.

  10. #70
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    "First, there was no liquid nitrogen on Apollo spacecraft...."---Big Jim
    Oh.
    "... The Apollo flight-control system used in Phase I of the DFBW program had been used previously on the Lunar Module and was incredibly reliable. The DSKY was one element of the system. Also part of the fly-by-wire control system was the inertial platform. Both the computer and the inertial platform required a cooling system that used liquid nitrogen to keep the system within temperature limits..."
    http://makeashorterlink.com/?S13353064

  11. #71
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    I doubt that the cooling system immersed the computer and the inertial platform in liquid nitrogen, with their wires laid bare to it. (The liquid water-and-ethylene-glycol cooling system in a car doesn't bathe the cylinders in coolant, it runs the coolant next to the cylinders in a sealed pipe shaped in such a way that the rate of heat exchange is high.)

    In other words, even if there was liquid N2 aboard an Apollo spacecraft, there probably weren't any gold or gold-plated wires in the liquid N2.

  12. #72
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    Sarongsong,

    In addition to what Tracer said, liquid nitrogen is what we use in medicine to store and preserve DNA samples. It keeps the samples at ~-70F. While life does function near 0.0F, it does not function in liquid nitrogen temperatures. Sorry.

  13. #73
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    My point was to refute at least 2 claims here that no liquid nitrogen was used on Apollo missions.

  14. #74
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    But, regardless of where these supposed microbes were found, you haven't adressed the question of what they would subsisit on or what nutritional balue they would get from eating gold or platinum.

  15. #75
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    All I have is a fascination for this unknown phenomenom.
    Answers will have to come from a bigger mind than mine; I'm simply enjoying the ride. Here's Pseudomonas stutzeria, for instance, "...A strain of bacteria that can manufacture tiny crystals of silver..."
    http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/sci/tech/533416.stm
    ...something that is now known.
    Howard's find is unknown, and therefore a genuine mystery that has POSSIBLE implications for those relying on gold or platinum components, the space program being but one representative who also uses liquid nitrogen, an apparent requirement for "its" existance.

  16. #76
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    Quote Originally Posted by sarongsong
    All I have is a fascination for this unknown phenomenom.
    Answers will have to come from a bigger mind than mine; I'm simply enjoying the ride. Here's Pseudomonas stutzeria, for instance, "...A strain of bacteria that can manufacture tiny crystals of silver..."
    http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/sci/tech/533416.stm
    ...something that is now known.
    Howard's find is unknown, and therefore a genuine mystery that has POSSIBLE implications for those relying on gold or platinum components, the space program being but one representative who also uses liquid nitrogen, an apparent requirement for "its" existance.
    I for one am not criticizing you, and especially not your curiosity. I think most of the folks in this thread are merely trying to point out the factual science over the pseudoscience.

    The way this was originally presented was as a 'discovery' that 'Howard' found and no one paid attention to.

    That is a red flag. It doesn't mean Howard is not correct.

    Some people have the stereotypical view of scientists as being unable to seek out and accept new ideas. That is crazy. Science is all about new ideas. And if there is a little bit of supporting evidence, some people will listen to any idea no matter how radical. So when people claim to have discovered something and 'no one will listen', 99% of the time scientists aren't listening because the discovery is not.

    But we are looking for that 1% where something new turns up. I absolutely love finding someone who has made a new discovery.

    I did look at what you presented. I think the red flag has so far proven its validity.

    As far as the liquid nitrogen, you provided good links to back that up that it is used on space craft. You provided good links to back up that microbes can consume silver. This is excellent.

    Tracer pointed out that liquid nitrogen wouldn't be used in direct contact with computer hardware and I pointed out that microbes absolutely cannot function at the temperature of liquid nitrogen.

    If you want to look at corrosion of equipment in space, you set up an experiment to look at corrosion of equipment in space. Pictures might be used to evaluate micro-erosion. I have seen electron mircoscope fotos of minute meteorite impacts on the surfaces of space craft, for example.

    If you want to look at microbe growth, you set up the conditions you want to study and grow the microbes. This is a gross oversimplification but my point is the evidence presented by Howard is not evidence of the conclusion Howard is drawing.

    I think it's great that you opened this thread to look at this subject. I also think you are doing a good job trying to find the science to support the claims. Try to evaluate the ideas folks are presenting. Sometimes they sound more critical than helpful. I just ignore that. It isn't always what they were intending, and if they did intend it, it reflects badly on that person not on you.

  17. #77
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    Thanks, beskeptical, I think that's the kind of response that may draw Howard to join in. Had you found yourself in a similar position (photographer) at the time, how might you have proceeded?

  18. #78
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    Quote Originally Posted by sarongsong
    Thanks, beskeptical, I think that's the kind of response that may draw Howard to join in. Had you found yourself in a similar position (photographer) at the time, how might you have proceeded?
    You are most welcome.

    I already have a lot of expertise in microbiology so I would have to learn more about computer hardware if I had concerns about corrosion. If I were a computer specialist I would start learning more about microbiology.

    If I wasn't taken seriously, I'd ask for reasons then I'd go validate or refute the reasons. And, then I'd either learn and go on or I'd take the documentation back and share it.

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