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   Pharmaceutical company "loses" $700,000 worth of gold dust. Now you know why your prescriptions cost so much

07 Dec 2012 10:29 AM   |   6993 clicks   |   STLToday
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Sybarite    [TotalFark]  
Stevie Nicks wanted for questioning.

07 Dec 2012 09:44 AM
tricycleracer     

Sybarite: Stevie Nicks wanted for questioning.


Everyone knows Courtney Love snorted it all.

07 Dec 2012 09:58 AM
DiRF     
*puts cover over giant pumpkin flloat and whistles innocently*

07 Dec 2012 10:30 AM
JohnnyRebel88     

Sybarite: Stevie Nicks wanted for questioning.


Done in 1.

07 Dec 2012 10:32 AM
imashark     
1.bp.blogspot.comView Full Size


Wary of claimed value

07 Dec 2012 10:32 AM
darth_badger     
home.fuse.netView Full Size


Stashed it ... some place.

07 Dec 2012 10:32 AM
rocinante721     
Au no!

07 Dec 2012 10:32 AM
Bondith    [TotalFark]  
The only use I can think of for gold in pharmaceutical synthesis is gold nanoparticle catalysis. Gold dust is not nanoparticles, and if they think they're gonna make nanoparticles out of it, there are better ways of doing it.

07 Dec 2012 10:34 AM
cefm     
"Pfizer did not want to comment on how it uses gold"

content8.flixster.comView Full Size

07 Dec 2012 10:38 AM
Harry Freakstorm     
Don't look at me. I've been to Dwight

Possibly obscure.

07 Dec 2012 10:39 AM
Fizpez     
Would probably be real hard to sell that gold dust....

depts.washington.eduView Full Size

07 Dec 2012 10:40 AM
special20    [TotalFark]  
No worries. I'm sure the cops will find that $350,000 worth of gold soon.

07 Dec 2012 10:41 AM
Englebert Slaptyback    [TotalFark]  

Pfizer did not want to comment on how it uses gold.


I seem to recall reading that some form of gold is used in injections to treat rheumatoid arthritis. (The injections go directly into the joints.)

07 Dec 2012 10:41 AM
kbotc     

Englebert Slaptyback: Pfizer did not want to comment on how it uses gold.


I seem to recall reading that some form of gold is used in injections to treat rheumatoid arthritis. (The injections go directly into the joints.)


And it's used in most of the nano-tech cancer research currently as part of the delivery system.

07 Dec 2012 10:42 AM
lennavan     

Bondith: The only use I can think of for gold in pharmaceutical synthesis is gold nanoparticle catalysis. Gold dust is not nanoparticles, and if they think they're gonna make nanoparticles out of it, there are better ways of doing it.


Gold nanoparticles was my thought as well, though I have no idea how they are synthesized.

07 Dec 2012 10:43 AM
wildcardjack     
I can think of several uses for small amounts of gold around the lab, but WTF would you need 30-50 pounds of it?

/Feyman mentions using a x-ray target ball of gold as a doorstop to a room with a plutonium pit.
//Relative values and whatnot at the time

07 Dec 2012 10:44 AM
BalugaJoe    [TotalFark]  
wanted for questioning:

doctorwhotoys.netView Full Size

07 Dec 2012 10:44 AM
groverpm     
Found it! 
24.media.tumblr.comView Full Size

07 Dec 2012 10:44 AM
devildog123    [TotalFark]  

Bondith: The only use I can think of for gold in pharmaceutical synthesis is gold nanoparticle catalysis. Gold dust is not nanoparticles, and if they think they're gonna make nanoparticles out of it, there are better ways of doing it.


Yeah, but who knows what they have there. It was a research facility. One of my cousins works in pharmaceutical research, and she says they have all kinds of random crap you would never think of where she works, because apparently, you never know what might turn out to be useful.

07 Dec 2012 10:47 AM
Harry Freakstorm     
Fizpez
Would probably be real hard to sell that gold dust...


Exactly. The article goes on to explain how hard it would be to sell gold dust but how hard it it to melt it down and sell it by the ounce? Teflon pan and a stove? Just wondering. I was no where near that place.

Well, actually I went by there Sunday. But it wasn't me. You'd need a babe to distract the guy, a clipper guy to cut the wires and a clueless patsy to take the fall. And my clueless patsy won't work on Sundays.

07 Dec 2012 10:49 AM
topcon     
upload.wikimedia.orgView Full Size

07 Dec 2012 10:49 AM
DysphoricMania     
"Gold dust is really fine and it can be blown into the wind,"

I call shenanigans....

07 Dec 2012 10:49 AM
Martian_Astronomer     
Something like that actually happened to someone I worked with in grad school. She ordered an ounce or so of ultrapure gold for some semiconductor processing, and it subsequently went missing. There were accusatory murmurs throughout the research group, but no hard evidence of any foul play, so nobody got in trouble (other than a scolding for the loss of $5K worth of material, but in my particular field it's really easy to make a mistake that expensive, so it wasn't a particularly outrageous loss.)

About a year later, after that student had graduated, I was cleaning the office and found the gold in an envelope that had fallen behind a large desk.

/ No, I didn't keep it

07 Dec 2012 10:50 AM
StrangeQ     
TFA says it would be suspicious if someone came in trying to sell a 50lb bag of gold dust, but could they just melt it down into bars beforehand? How would such a thing be traceable?

07 Dec 2012 10:53 AM
This text is now purple     
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They had problems with FDA approval.

07 Dec 2012 10:55 AM
Bondith    [TotalFark]  

lennavan: Bondith: The only use I can think of for gold in pharmaceutical synthesis is gold nanoparticle catalysis. Gold dust is not nanoparticles, and if they think they're gonna make nanoparticles out of it, there are better ways of doing it.

Gold nanoparticles was my thought as well, though I have no idea how they are synthesized.


Usually by reducing gold salts. Citrate is a popular option, and photolysis is a newer innovation. This is the bottom-up approach, building the particle atom by atom. There's also a top-down approach, basically blowing nano-chunks off the bulk material. That's been pretty well abandoned at this point, except for idiots who drink colloidal silver thinking it'll cure everything from hiccups to cancer.

wildcardjack: I can think of several uses for small amounts of gold around the lab, but WTF would you need 30-50 pounds of it?


Depends on the scale of your synthesis. If you're doing benchtop research, not a lot. If you're doing large batches to sell to more than one person, you'll need more reagents.

devildog123: Bondith: The only use I can think of for gold in pharmaceutical synthesis is gold nanoparticle catalysis. Gold dust is not nanoparticles, and if they think they're gonna make nanoparticles out of it, there are better ways of doing it.

Yeah, but who knows what they have there. It was a research facility. One of my cousins works in pharmaceutical research, and she says they have all kinds of random crap you would never think of where she works, because apparently, you never know what might turn out to be useful.


Fair enough. Must be nice to have enough funding to take that approach.

/didn't even get paid this semester

07 Dec 2012 10:57 AM
This text is now purple     
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Hasn't seen it

07 Dec 2012 10:58 AM
Felgraf     

Bondith: The only use I can think of for gold in pharmaceutical synthesis is gold nanoparticle catalysis. Gold dust is not nanoparticles, and if they think they're gonna make nanoparticles out of it, there are better ways of doing it.


I am also confused by this. Besides, isn't purchasing Gold(III) chloride hydrate acid easier than, well, trying to synth it yourself from gold and aqua regia?


/Though GODDAMN that stuff loves sucking water out of the air.

lennavan: Gold nanoparticles was my thought as well, though I have no idea how they are synthesized.


The simplest way to make gold nanoparticles (Well, gold nanospheres) is amazingly easy. There's a good bit of size variation, but basically:

Take Gold(III) chloride hydrate. Dilute into water to some ammount. Boil, and stir vigorously. While it's boiling and stirring, add dissolved Sodium Citrate (Citric Acid).

You now have gold nanoparticles, whose size varies based on the ratios of gold and citric acid. I swear to god it is the only thing I have ever done that LOOKS like the way they show SCIENCE! on TV. (The solution goes from an off yellow, to clear, to *BLACK*, then slowly fades to some shade of red/orange, depending on the size of the nanospheres).

/Not a chemist.
//Nanophysics grad student, so I do *do* chemistry/magic, though!

07 Dec 2012 10:58 AM
devildog123    [TotalFark]  

StrangeQ: TFA says it would be suspicious if someone came in trying to sell a 50lb bag of gold dust, but could they just melt it down into bars beforehand? How would such a thing be traceable?


It's not that hard to melt the stuff down, you see a lot of home melts up here in Alaska. People out panning or sluicing in the creeks find flakes and dust all the time, and will often melt the stuff down and bring it to the local jewelers or gold shops. There is probably less of that down in the lower 48, but yeah, if he walked into a jewelry shop with some plain, homemade lumps of gold (probably would want to do that in one to two ounce pieces at a time, at lots of different stores), odds on most places would be happy to take it off his hands.

07 Dec 2012 10:59 AM
Felix_T_Cat     

DysphoricMania: "Gold dust is really fine and it can be blown into the wind,"

I call shenanigans....


Well it _can_ be. It's actually black and very fine. At very small size it doesn't reflect light so much. It's called 'findings' and any gold refining place will buy it. Another jeweler kept offering to buy my dad's findings. You can melt it back into something recognizable at 1500 degrees if I remember correctly.

A buddy of mine used to work for a pharmaceutical company rendering down the raw ingedients. Lot of drunkenness. "I really should be more carefull... this is going into someone's grandmother."

07 Dec 2012 11:00 AM
highendmighty     
pharmaceutical companies are also in the business of developing and testing medical devices. It is not a stretch to imagine that some of the devices use gold, especially solid state electronic devices.

/something something Monster cables...

07 Dec 2012 11:04 AM
EyeballKid     
A source who wished to remain anonymous told reporters, "Ah'll go thee if my oldest thonnnnn is responsible. If he's tryin' to take that to the pay winnah, tunneeshavonneee, he'll get a clubberin' and be shown the error of his waaaaaaayth, if you wee-yall."

07 Dec 2012 11:04 AM
mgshamster     

Bondith: Depends on the scale of your synthesis. If you're doing benchtop research, not a lot. If you're doing large batches to sell to more than one person, you'll need more reagents.


Pfizer usually hires out to other companies to make products in bulk. My wife works for one such company, and Pfizer is one of their customers.

07 Dec 2012 11:06 AM
Bimmer     
I believe that some of it was found under the floor in a house in Sacramento.

A Sacramento homeowner is now $300,000 richer thanks to workers who unearthed a dozen jars of gold dust while installing heating and air conditioning under the floor.

07 Dec 2012 11:10 AM
Bondith    [TotalFark]  

mgshamster: Bondith: Depends on the scale of your synthesis. If you're doing benchtop research, not a lot. If you're doing large batches to sell to more than one person, you'll need more reagents.

Pfizer usually hires out to other companies to make products in bulk. My wife works for one such company, and Pfizer is one of their customers.


Wow. Clearly I have no idea what goes on in industry.

I'll go back to talking about nanoparticles, then.

/silver nanoparticles are golden coloured, and gold ones are every colour except gold

07 Dec 2012 11:12 AM
Felgraf     

Bondith: mgshamster: Bondith: Depends on the scale of your synthesis. If you're doing benchtop research, not a lot. If you're doing large batches to sell to more than one person, you'll need more reagents.

Pfizer usually hires out to other companies to make products in bulk. My wife works for one such company, and Pfizer is one of their customers.

Wow. Clearly I have no idea what goes on in industry.

I'll go back to talking about nanoparticles, then.

/silver nanoparticles are golden coloured, and gold ones are every colour except gold


Let's get together and biatch about how half the nanoparticle synthesis papers seem to leave out CRUCIAL STEPS or details!

"Oh, this synthesis has to be done under nitrogen!" "WHY THE FARK DOESN'T YOUR PAPER SAY THAT?" "Well, it was assumed!"

07 Dec 2012 11:20 AM
lennavan     

Bondith: Usually by reducing gold salts. Citrate is a popular option, and photolysis is a newer innovation. This is the bottom-up approach, building the particle atom by atom. There's also a top-down approach, basically blowing nano-chunks off the bulk material. That's been pretty well abandoned at this point, except for idiots who drink colloidal silver thinking it'll cure everything from hiccups to cancer


Yeah I'll just nod my head and walk away. I'm the biologist. I show up to the Chemists and ask them pretty please and through some magical process that apparently involves blowing chunks they show up at my door a few weeks later with an aliquot of nanoparticles. I take it from there.

07 Dec 2012 11:21 AM
rookoor     
"Local dealers and refiners said a gold dust thief would face layers of problems trying to sell it here." Oh yeah, that would be really hard to melt it into larger pieces.

07 Dec 2012 11:28 AM
Relatively Obscure    [TotalFark]  
t3.gstatic.comView Full Size

07 Dec 2012 11:30 AM
lennavan     

Felgraf: The simplest way to make gold nanoparticles (Well, gold nanospheres) is amazingly easy. There's a good bit of size variation, but basically:

Take Gold(III) chloride hydrate. Dilute into water to some ammount. Boil, and stir vigorously. While it's boiling and stirring, add dissolved Sodium Citrate (Citric Acid).



This is most likely a stupid follow-up question but what does the structure look like when you are done? I guess I always imagined hollow and shaped like a buckyball because of the name nanosphere and I only ever concern myself with what it is coated in. But I don't see how the sphere assembles from that reaction.

And another follow-up, people are attaching things to the nanospheres and running various experiments with them. Are you saying when the chemists give me those nanospheres, it is a heterogeneous population? Or do chemists usually purify them to a more homogenous population with UV spec (if they are different colors) or LC-MS? I'm just mostly curious here.

Felgraf: You now have gold nanoparticles, whose size varies based on the ratios of gold and citric acid. I swear to god it is the only thing I have ever done that LOOKS like the way they show SCIENCE! on TV. (The solution goes from an off yellow, to clear, to *BLACK*, then slowly fades to some shade of red/orange, depending on the size of the nanospheres).


Hehe yeah those are tough. It's all just mixing clear chemicals that may as well be water. I gave a talk to 5th graders awhile back and the chem research lab here gave me a cobalt synthesis reaction that looks like SCIENCE! It was synthesis of CTC-96 and the precursor starts as pink, turns immediately to blue upon addition of a colorless solution and then over time (about an hour) proceeds through green to ultimately brown.

07 Dec 2012 11:39 AM
justanotherfarkinfarker     
You can buy a bench top smelter for like $800 on the internet. I don't think that would be a prob.

/you could use it in fireworks too if you like to throw money away.

07 Dec 2012 11:45 AM
pseudoscience     
Pfizer did not want to comment on how it uses gold.

The secret to Viagra has been revealed!

07 Dec 2012 11:46 AM
Felgraf     

lennavan: This is most likely a stupid follow-up question but what does the structure look like when you are done? I guess I always imagined hollow and shaped like a buckyball because of the name nanosphere and I only ever concern myself with what it is coated in. But I don't see how the sphere assembles from that reaction.


You basically get an oblong sphere, but it's not hollow: It's completely solid. (You can MAKE hollow nanospheres, through.. witchcraft, I think). I don't know *why* they're spherical: I'm not a chemist, so i admit some of it is like magic to me. I think it has something to do with the way the citric acid reduces the gold. That said, it is a fairly homogenous population (varying by a few nm in diameter, when I've tried), but it is possible to purify them further: Whether via filtration or timed centrifugation (the heavier/larger particles with centrifuge out first!) or whatever. All the nanoparticles *will* be homogenous in their surface/what's chemically bound to the surface, for the most part. (Which is why they don't just drop out of solution)

Nanorods are even more clever. I haven't done it, but if I remember right:
You basically perform a nanoparticle synthesis reaction in a mixture of water+some chemical/protein that forms micelles. Then, you get the reaction occuring *within* the water (or chemical, don't remember which) formed miceles, which gives it a preferred axis of growth...

07 Dec 2012 11:50 AM
Englebert Slaptyback    [TotalFark]  

Felgraf


You basically get an oblong sphere


o_O

I assume you mean a prolate spheroid.

07 Dec 2012 11:53 AM
BigLuca    [TotalFark]  
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=
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07 Dec 2012 11:58 AM
Felgraf     

Englebert Slaptyback: I assume you mean a prolate spheroid.


Probably, yes, I suppose my terminoliogy was slightly imprecise.

"You get something roughly spherical, but sometimes is slightly bulged or egg-like or oblong."

07 Dec 2012 11:59 AM
Russ1642     
$700k to Pfizer is a drop in the bucket.

07 Dec 2012 12:11 PM
ha-ha-guy     

devildog123: StrangeQ: TFA says it would be suspicious if someone came in trying to sell a 50lb bag of gold dust, but could they just melt it down into bars beforehand? How would such a thing be traceable?

It's not that hard to melt the stuff down, you see a lot of home melts up here in Alaska. People out panning or sluicing in the creeks find flakes and dust all the time, and will often melt the stuff down and bring it to the local jewelers or gold shops. There is probably less of that down in the lower 48, but yeah, if he walked into a jewelry shop with some plain, homemade lumps of gold (probably would want to do that in one to two ounce pieces at a time, at lots of different stores), odds on most places would be happy to take it off his hands.


I did that in grad school one summer. Didn't feel like interning so I went out west to pan for gold, camp, and dick around in old and unsafe mines. I managed to avoid Darwin and got enough gold over the space of a few months to make a small lump. There was a place in Colorado that was willing to buy it. I kept it though as a conversational piece. I agree that if you're smart enough to sell it in small amounts in areas where people still actively search for gold, no one is ever going to notice.

07 Dec 2012 12:11 PM
Brick-House     
For those of you counting, that's 25 pounds of gold at today's prices.

07 Dec 2012 12:14 PM
The Dog Ate My Homework     
Glenn Beck probably snorted it all.

07 Dec 2012 12:16 PM
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