Microbial alchemy is a very time-consuming process than more than using it to produce gold should be used to ask ourselves about greed and the impact to the environment.
A team at the University of Michigan discovered a species of bacteria, the Cupriavidus metallidurans, that withstand very high levels of toxicity and can convert natural compounds into 24-karat gold. The process is known as microbial alchemy.
The team was led by Kazem Kashefi, professor of microbiology and molecular genetics, and Adam Brown, professor of electronic art. Together they combined the research with an art installation called The Great Work of the Metal Lover, which features a combination of biotechnology, art, and alchemy. The sculpture is a portable laboratory that produces a gold bar in front of the audience.
This process is time-consuming and, on a large scale, would be too costly. Because of this, Brown preferred that the work be used to “ask questions about greed, economics, and the impact to the environment, focusing on the ethics related to science and the engineering of nature.”
“Art has the ability to ask questions about the impact of science on the world and The Great Work of the Metal Lover speaks directly to these scientific concerns,” said Brown.
Text courtesy of Ecoosfera