In ancient times, people did not have more scientific knowledge and could not explain the principle of many things. So people would imagine some beautiful legendary myths to explain, and there are such stories about pearls.
According to legend, a long time ago, beautiful prostitutes lived in the South China Sea. These prostitutes turned out to be the servants of the Luna, who were sent to the sea for doing wrong things. On the full moon night, they often stood on the top of the rock. Looking at the moon, tears in tears, tears falling into pearls. The Tang Dynasty poet Li Shangyin’s famous saying “There is tears in the moon, and the blue sky is warm and jade smoke” describes the pearls that have been formed by this teardrop.
Now we know that this wonderful story is not true. Pearls are indeed from the sea and rivers, but they are not the tears of prostitutes, but the secretions of pearls. When you open a shell and eat it, foreign matter will enter its body. If you can’t discharge foreign matter, you will secrete calcium carbonate to wrap foreign matter. This will accumulate over a long period of time. After a few years, we will form the pearls we see, pearls. The main ingredients are calcium carbonate and some amino acids, which we also call pearl.
Pearls have a colorful and magnificent color and a gentle and gentle brilliance. They have been loved by people since they were discovered. In ancient times, both in the East and in the West, it was a treasure that nobles could possess. It is now regarded as a national treasure by France, the Philippines and India. In addition to being used as jewellery and pearls, it also has medicinal and cosmetic effects. In the “Compendium of Materia Medica”, pearls can be “clearing heat and dampness, dissolving phlegm and eliminating phlegm, and clearing eyes.” Modern research also shows that pearls improve human immunity and delay aging. , freckle whitening and other aspects have a unique role.
Small bacteria, great use
In the Xia Dynasty 4000 years ago, Chinese fishermen began collecting pearls in the oceans and rivers. In the Song Dynasty, we discovered the method of artificially cultured pearls. In the Song Dynasty, Wenchang Miscellaneous, there was such a record: Daxie, soaked in clear water. Feeding its opening, eager to vote with the pearl. Frequently changing the water, after two autumns, it becomes a true pearl.” In the Ming Dynasty, some people put the lead Buddha image into the scorpion and cultivated a Buddha statue. pearl. Nowadays, cultured pearls and their processing have become a major industry in Jiangsu and Zhejiang.
But do you know that not only pearls can produce pearls, but bacteria can also do it!
In fact, bacteria are not all harmful, there are many beneficial bacteria. If some bacteria are used in production, their production efficiency will far exceed that of human chemical plants, and they will be energy-saving and environmentally friendly. For example, E. coli modified with genetic engineering technology can use sugar as raw material to produce a chemical raw material called butanediol, which is an important raw material for engineering plastics and spandex. Engineering plastics are widely used in electronic appliances, automotive parts and other fields, and spandex is an important material for making clothing.
In addition, a type of bacteria called “T-103” found in animal urine can convert “eat in” newspapers into car fuel, which means that cellulose is given to the bacteria, and we can get a lot of fuel. There are also bacteria that produce electricity, bacteria that produce drugs, and so on. These bacteria are “examples” in front, and it seems that it is not a myth.
How does the bacteria produce pearls?
We already know that the main component of pearls is the pearly material of calcium carbonate and a small amount of amino acids. Is it possible to “stack” these ingredients together to produce pearly? This idea was realized in the laboratory by a professor in the United States.
They first took a glass or plastic sheet coated with Bacillus licheniformis and placed it in a calcium ion solution containing urea (in the human body, urea is the waste excreted by the kidneys during urination). Bacteria, the role of this bacteria is to decompose urea, so that the decomposed urea ions and calcium ions combine to produce calcium carbonate crystals. The Bacillus licheniformis on the sheet produces a negative charge that attracts the calcium carbonate crystals to build up around it. All that remains to be done is to place the solution in an incubator and form a layer of nacre about 5 microns thick in one day.
Don’t underestimate this 5 micron, you must know that this efficiency is more than a little higher than artificial breeding. It takes two to three years for us to raise the pearls. The pericarp layer secreted by the pearls is only 1 to 1.5 microns thick. Is the ratio of bacteria-producing beads faster and more cost-effective than raising the beads? ? But scientists let the bacteria produce pearls not only to make it produce pearls, but the pearly layer of calcium carbonate has more use.
Great use of pearl
The artificial nacre layer produced by bacteria is harder than most plastics, and it also has strong toughness and ductility, which means it can be shaped into more shapes for use in a wide range of fields such as medicine, food industry, Civil engineering, it can even be used as a raw material for building buildings on the moon.
The main component of pearl is calcium carbonate. The bones of human bones are mainly composed of calcium. This means that artificial bones or scaffolds made of pearls will be more easily accepted by the human body, immune rejection is greatly reduced, and implanted stents are not. A second surgery is needed again. In the food industry, this material can be made into food packaging. It does not contain many harmful ingredients like industrial plastics, so it is safer and harmless. The pearl is easily degraded by acids and bases and is more environmentally friendly than plastic. The pearl coating also prevents weathering and is suitable for cultural relics protection. Moreover, although this material is harder than most plastics, it is very light and this quality is especially valuable for vehicles such as airplanes, boats or rockets, which makes the vehicle more energy efficient.
The bacterial nacre layer may also be an ideal material for building houses on the moon and other planets. Because the moon’s dust itself contains a lot of calcium, the only “component” we have to provide is urea and a small tube of bacteria. We have been able to synthesize large amounts of urea in a low-cost way. The nitrogen fertilizer commonly used in agriculture is mainly urea. The astronauts brought urea and our “workers” – bacteria, and they were ready to start producing our first layer of bricks. But before that, what we have to solve is how to make our “workers” more efficient? In addition to providing more “workers”, genetic engineering technology to transform “workers” to make bacteria produce higher metabolic activity and improve “work efficiency” is also a direction for scientists to work hard.