By David Self Newlin
SALT LAKE CITY — Gold may be beautiful, elegant, and extremely valuable, but the process for extracting it is nasty, poisonous, expensive and inefficient.
But science is full of serendipity, moments of accidental discovery like finding penicillin hiding in plain sight in a petri dish. Zhichang Liu, a post doctorate at Northwestern University, had just such a moment in the lab when he accidentally discovered a new method for extracting gold in a totally green way.
Liu was intending to build nanocubes to store gasses and large molecules. But what he ended up getting when he mixed cornstarch, gold and a potassium-bromide compound was needles.
"Initially, I was disappointed when my experiment didn't produce cubes, but when I saw the needles, I got excited," Liu said. "I wanted to learn more about the composition of these needles."
It turns out, the needles were composed of gold nanowires, leading to the possibility that the process could be repeated, scaled up and produce a method for extracting gold that is cheap, effective and non-toxic. And it is very specific for gold, excluding other chemically similar elements like platinum and palladium.
Currently, gold is extracted using extremely poisonous cyanide salts and gasses. It leaves behind difficult-to-clean waste that stays in the environment for quite some time.
However, Liu's new method uses alpha-cyclodextrin, a cyclic sugar with six glucose molecules. That, plus the potassium-bromine compound, are easy to clean. It can extract gold from raw sources or from gold scraps, meaning it could find a use in recycling consumer electronics.
"The elimination of cyanide from the gold industry is of the utmost importance environmentally," said Sir Fraser Stoddart, the Board of Trustees Professor of Chemistry in the Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences. "We have replaced nasty reagents with a cheap, biologically friendly material derived from starch."
Courtesy: KSL TV
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JACKSONVILLE, Fla., May 9, 2013 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Blue Water Ventures International, Inc. (the "Company") (OTCBB:BWVI) today announced the long awaited launch of Phase II of its operations and plans for its 2013 season exploration of shipwrecks on the east coast of Florida and several sites in Central America. Additionally, the Company is exploring the feasibility of additional projects in Caribbean waters, including the Bahamas and Dominican Republic. The Company is currently acquiring additional vessels and has assembled skilled crews to pursue these projects. Its mission is to locate and recover artifacts and treasure from historic sunken ships, whose cargos offer vast material, intellectual, and social rewards.
About Blue Water Ventures International
BWVI is a historic shipwreck research and recovery company that locates and recovers lost treasures dated from pre-colonial times to our recent past. During Phase I of its operations, it has recovered historical treasure and artifacts from the 1622 Spanish fleet carried by the galleon Nuestra Santa Margarita, that succumbed to hurricane force winds off the coast of Key West, Florida. The Company located treasure from the Santa Margarita using state of the art technology and recovered an estimated $16 million in gold, silver and natural pearls along its widely dispersed shipwreck trail. After splitting the treasure with its joint venture partner, the Company values its portion of this treasure at $6+ million.
CEO, Keith Webb stated that becoming a publicly traded company and the combined aspects of a successful 2013 dive season is exactly what we at BWVI have envisioned.
A portion of the Margarita treasure can be viewed at our website: www.BWVINT.com.
By Seth Koenig, BDN Staff
PORTLAND, Maine — More than a year after Portland-based treasure hunter Greg Brooks announced he was on the verge of salvaging $3 billion in precious metals from the shipwreck of the World War II-era British freighter Port Nicholson, his team remains a frustrating distance from holding that bounty.
“We know that this stuff is on board and it’s frustrating not to be able to go down and just grab it,” Brooks told the Bangor Daily News Wednesday. “It’s right there. It’s 650 feet to 700 feet under us.”
Over the past 14 months, Brooks and his Sub Sea Research LLC have seen at least two proposed partnerships fizzle with underwater robotics makers — whose equipment is necessary to break into the sunken ship’s steel hull and, if there is platinum and gold inside, bring the heavy weight to the surface.
Additionally, Brooks said, he’s facing renewed enthusiasm for claiming ownership by the British government, which he believes aims to strip him of his rights to what would be a record shipwreck treasure.
It hasn’t all been bad news, however.
Along the way, the Maine captain said his team has uncovered additional evidence proving the legitimacy of his claims that the Port Nicholson was carrying a top secret shipment of precious metals, and he now believes a new agreement with the high-profile machinists at the Waterboro-based Howe & Howe Technologies will provide him with robotic equipment capable of finishing the job.
Co-owners Mike and Geoff Howe shot into the public view with their now-famous Ripsaw unmanned U.S. Army tank and a 2010 reality show on the Discovery Channel, and have stayed in the limelight with prominent appearances of their gear in Hollywood blockbusters, including this spring’s “G.I. Joe: Retaliation.”
Brooks, who said a year ago he’d already emptied a $6 million budget for the project and acknowledged Wednesday he has lost “a lot of [additional] money” on the two failed robotics deals prior to bringing Howe & Howe on board, now said he needs a last big investor.
First mate Keith Sonnemann (left) and Doug Pope stand on the deck of the Polly-L. The research vessel is having work done in dry-dock in Green Cove Springs.
By Drew Dixon
JACKSONVILLE, FLORIDA - Nassau Sound is known for its tricky waters to navigate, shark infestations and a remote, narrow pass where the Nassau River meets the Atlantic Ocean.
Doug Pope also sees the sound as a possible site of treasure from the long-lost Spanish galleon San Miguel that wrecked in 1715. Pope is president of Amelia Research & Recovery LLC, based in Fernandina Beach, and his quest to find the San Miguel’s loot is the basis of his business.
Pope said the find of a jeweler’s furnace in 1993 near Amelia Island is believed to be from the ship that was part of a fleet of about a dozen that went down during a hurricane nearly 300 years ago. The treasure salvaging season for Pope commences in about two weeks, when area waters are most calm.
INDIA - A total of 117 ancient and priceless gold coins, a small gold plate and two silver anklets were found in an agricultural field in a village in Kadambur block in Sathyamangalam taluk.
The coins reportedly belong to the period of the Vijayanagara dynasty but this is yet to be confirmed by officials of the Archaeology Department.
A group of workers stumbled on a pot which contained the treasure, when they were harvesting tapioca tuber in a field in Karaliyam, a village located inside the Kadambur forests in Sathyamangalam block, about two weeks ago.
It was said that the workers shared the treasure.
On learning about the incident, Sathyamangalam Tahsildar K. Kannappan along with the police personnel went to the village and took possession of the coins, each weighing about 400 milligrams, silver anklets and gold plate.
The treasure that had been unearthed was later handed over to Collector V.K. Shanmugam on Wednesday evening.
“The coins have pictorial inscriptions on them suggesting that they were minted during the Vijayanagara period. The anklets are small and they may be worn by the children. The coins are to be studied further,” Mr. Shanmugam said.
Officials said the antique coins would be handed over to the Archaeology Department for further study.
Interestingly, a similar treasure pot with a large number of gold coins was unearthed in another village in Kadambur block in July 2010.
A total of 744 coins were found in a pot that was unearthed by a farmer in Kottamalam village.
The coins were later handed over to the district administration.
Courtesy; The Hindu
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Treasure hunter Herbert “Herbo” Humphreys has claimed another wreck site at which he and his crew will search for sunken cargo of gold, silver and jewellery.
Captain Humphrey’s company, Marex Gulfstream Ventures, claimed the wreck of the steamship Merida in US federal Admiralty court in Savannah, Georgia last month and plan to start their expedition to retrieve its treasure this summer.
According to reports at the time of the sinking in 1911, the ship had set sail with 17 tons of silver, gold, copper and jewels, said Captain Humphreys, the former owner of Holiday Inn Resort in Grand Cayman, who plans to appoint Caymanian boat captain and treasure hunter Kem Jackson as his chief engineer on the adventure.
Much of the treasure that was thought to be on board the Merida was gold and silver Mexican bullion and coins that 80-year-old president of Mexico Porfirio Diaz was shipping out of the country, as he was about to be overthrown in a revolution.
By Tom Sharpe
The New Mexican
When a state Department of Game and Fish warden stopped a man from digging beneath a descanso along the upper Pecos River at the Terrero Campground last month, the digger said he was trying to find a treasure hidden by Santa Fe artifact collector Forrest Fenn.
Department spokesman Dan Williams said on March 21, the man used hand tools to dig 18 inches under about half of a 12-inch by 12-inch concrete base supporting an iron cross at the entrance to State Game Commission property just across the river from the Terrero store.
“He told our officer that he was looking for Forrest Fenn’s treasure,” Williams said.
Williams said the man, who wasn’t identified, will be charged under a state law making it a misdemeanor to “excavate, injure, destroy or remove any cultural resource or artifact” on State Game Commission land.
In Fenn’s 2011 biography, The Thrill of the Chase, he includes a 24-line poem that he says contains clues to where he hid an antique bronze lockbox with pieces of gold, a 17th-century Spanish emerald ring, a ruby-studded bracelet, diamonds and other booty worth $2 million.
“I knew exactly where to hide the chest so it would be difficult to find but not impossible,” Fenn wrote. “It’s in the mountains somewhere north of Santa Fe.”
On March 9, a woman from Texas was rescued in the backcountry of Bandelier National Monument after she had become lost searching for Fenn’s treasure. She told her rescuers she had been inspired to look for the treasure after seeing Fenn interviewed on NBC’s Today show.
Various people from around the country have called The New Mexican about Fenn’s claims over the last year. Collected Works, a local bookstore that is the only place where buyers can get Fenn’s book other than Amazon.com or from Fenn himself, reported a run on the book after Fenn’s national TV appearance.
Williams said if the man who dug under the descanso — “resting place” in Spanish, usually a homemade memorial placed where someone has died or where their ashes have been scattered — had found Fenn’s treasure, he could not have kept it because state law prevents taking artifacts from state land. He said the same rules would probably apply to most federal land.
“Our officer asked him to repair, to back fill where he was digging, which the guy apparently did, but it may not be to our satisfaction,” he said. “We may have to go in there to tamp it down better and fix it up so that it doesn’t get undermined by erosion.”
Courtesy; New Mexican
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TWO centuries underwater had dulled their sparkle, yet the first glimpse of silver coins drew excited cheers on board Odyssey Marine Exploration’s flagship. The gold coins that came next really caught the Iberian sun—and the spirits. The entire haul was worth around $500m; a record find for Greg Stemm, Odyssey’s boss. He dislikes the “treasure hunter” label, but sports a beard and cracks pirate jokes.
Like old buccaneers, he also tangles with the authorities. After five years of legal wrangling, America’s Supreme Court in 2012 upheld a ruling that, because the wreck was a Spanish warship, it enjoyed sovereign immunity. Odyssey has already returned most of the trove, nearly 600,000 coins. A ruling by a Florida court this month could make it pay Spain’s legal costs—which run into millions of dollars.
A former chicken farmer called Mel Fisher took eight years to secure his rights to the wreck of the Nuestra Señora de Atocha, a 17th-century Spanish galleon. When he found it after more than a decade’s searching off the Florida coast, a hotbed for treasure hunters, the state claimed ownership of its cargo of silver coins and emerald jewelry. Eventually the Supreme Court ruled that the site was in international waters, where finders’ rights prevail.
Such struggles with officialdom make a tough business even harder. Some 3m wrecks pepper the ocean floors, according to the UN (though few contain riches). Finding them involves lengthy research and lucky breaks. Recovery can take months of work by specialist crews. Of 52 annual reports filed by publicly listed shipwreck-recovery firms since 1996, only five show a net profit. In that time Odyssey, the biggest, has racked up losses of nearly $150m. The “treasure” consists of money extracted from “starry-eyed investors”, according to James Goold, a lawyer who represented Spain in the Odyssey case.
If profits are low, the broader costs are high. Archaeologists accuse treasure hunters of smashing wrecks while looting them. Indonesia complains that a rare Arab dhow site was ravaged in its waters: thousand-year-old ceramics, judged commercially worthless, were thrown back in the sea. The firm’s boss, Tilman Walterfang, stands by his crew’s decisions and blames government meddling.
A UN convention in 2009 banned the sale of artifacts from wrecks over 100 years old and champions their conservation. But only 42 countries have ratified it (not including Britain and America). The opposition of salvage firms shows the convention’s power, argues Ulrike Guérin, who runs its Paris-based secretariat. Where many states sign up, as in Latin America, treasure-hunting ventures are foundering.
Sean Tucker of Galleon Ventures, a salvage firm, says the convention and the Spanish government’s persistence are squeezing out legitimate business. Michael Scaglione of Marine Exploration, another treasure-hunting outfit, has found the flagship of the famous buccaneer Henry Morgan, near Haiti. But because that country is party to the convention, his firm cannot profit from its salvage.
One response is to work more closely with governments. Odyssey has three contracts with Britain, with expenses paid on successful recovery. Galleon Ventures is talking to Colombia about some of the 600 wrecks in its waters.
Treasure is not only on the seabed. Odyssey has its eye on subsea minerals. Mr Stemm says revenues could dwarf those from wrecks. Mr Fisher’s old firm now offers pirate-themed holidays to adventure-hungry tourists. Arqueonautas Worldwide, another firm, has a successful fashion line and plans for a video game and theme park. That may be more fun than most investors have had so far.
Courtesy The Economist
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Barry Clifford looked at a cannon in Brewster taken from the Whydah in a photo from July 17, 2007. VINCENT DEWITT/GLOBE FILE PHOTO
By Todd Feathers
After discovering a small brass nameplate, the team that found an unparalleled bounty of pirate riches submerged off Cape Cod with the ship Whydah three decades ago believes that more treasure may be found.
In 1984, Barry Clifford and his diving team discovered the three-masted ship, which had been captured by the infamous pirate captain Sam Bellamy, off the coast of Wellfleet. The latest discovery is a nameplate bearing the words “Whydah Gally 1713,” which Clifford believes may have been attached to the top of a treasure chest.
“We think we’re very close to the mother lode,” Clifford said. “We still haven’t excavated underneath that area yet . . . so, of course, we’re going back to that area after finding the top of a treasure chest.”
The ship Clifford discovered in 1984 was built in 1716 for the slave ship captain Lawrence Prince and captured by Bellamy in 1717. But records show that Prince had an earlier ship, also named Whydah, built in 1713, Clifford said.
After seeing the nameplate and the date, the team’s historian postulated that it may have been attached to a chest brought from the first Whydah to the second Whydah, possibly by Captain Prince himself.
That would make the nameplate, discovered earlier this month, the first artifact ever recovered from the first Whydah, wherever it now lies, Clifford noted.
The nameplate was found in a heavy concretion, a fused mass of artifacts and sediment, that also contained a large anchor. The concretion containing the nameplate and anchor was discovered beneath another large concretion of cannons, Clifford said. That, he said, is another clue that treasure may be in the vicinity.
According to testimony from pirate crew members who were captured after the second Whydah sank during a 1717 nor’easter, the vast majority of the crew’s hoard of coins and other valuables was held in decks below a group of captured cannons. Clifford thinks there may be more treasure at hand, and he is determined to find it.
“What we have here is very much like having the only Tyrannosaurus Rex [one of the largest dinosaurs ever],” he said. “It’s the only authentic pirate treasure in the world.”
Courtesy The Boston Globe
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By Ella Rhodes
UK - An amateur treasure-hunter's find of more than 3,600 Roman coins has led to the discovery of an ancient home.
David Beard took up metal detecting for some respite while he was caring for his mother who had Alzheimer's disease.
And he had only been doing it as a hobby for a year when he made the incredible discovery in Amber Valley.
Yesterday, his find was deemed to be treasure by Paul McCandless, deputy assistant coroner for Derby and South Derbyshire.
Two members of the Derbyshire Archaeological Society became involved in excavating the site and found the 3,631 coins were in the middle of the room of a large Roman house.
Mr Beard, of Sandbed Lane, Belper, said the coins he found ranged from the size of a lentil to the size of a modern penny. He said: "I was metal detecting in Amber Valley and in the first hole I found there were 500 coins."
They are third-century coins of a 'barbarous' radiate. This name refers to the spiked crown of the emperor on the coin.
According to a report from Eleanor Ghey, from The British Museum, they were produced locally and probably used to fill a gap in the official coin supply in Britain during the late third century.
If someone finds a hoard or treasure they must report it to the British Museum. It is then down to a coroner to decide on the basis of evidence whether something is treasure.
If an item or items are over 300 years old and contain 10% or more of precious metal they are officially treasure.
Susan Ebbins, of Derbyshire Archaeological Society, who has been excavating the site with fellow society member Alan Palfreyman, said: "Most hoards were found in the 18th and 19th centuries when people were expanding into the country and building roads.
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