Working at tiny scales, scientists transform gold into something even more incredible.

You've heard of nanotech, right? It's basically working with things that are really, really tiny.*

When you zoom into something to a super small scale, really surprising things can happen.

Take gold. We like it because it lasts a lifetime (and longer)! It makes good watches, rings, and coins because it doesn't react with oxygen and become tarnished or corroded. It just sits there, a gleaming symbol of never-ending love and power.


But if you zoom in much, much more closely to a tiny particle of gold, it transforms to something very different!

One of your grandparents can wear a gold ring that doesn't change in a lifetime. But up close, gold becomes a much more exciting scene.

Scientists have been able to attach molecules of drugs to surfaces of gold at this scale and use gold as a delivery vehicle to take medicines to particular sites in the body. Vroom!

Rod-shaped nano gold particles can be loaded up with antibodies that bond only to cancer cells. The nano gold can by made to oscillate via infrared light until — boom! Bad day for cancer cell.

Zoom in even farther, and things get really weird.

Super tiny pieces of gold can be used to change carbon monoxide to carbon dioxide. That kind of magic suggests that maybe we can use gold to make better breathing apparatus for fire fighters, for example, or to purify water.

We're already surrounded by products using nanotech. Nano silver in clothing and packaging fights bacteria that makes things stinky. Nano titanium dioxide makes sunscreens, paints, and other coatings more reflective, helping shield your body and your house from the sun.

These wondrous tiny things can also easily pass through cell membranes, taking new materials where they've never gone before. So, like with all new technologies, we do want to be careful to research the risks as well as the benefits as we develop and deploy it.

That said, the future looks pretty sparkly for nano gold!


*For an excellent overview of scale check out this video that zooms from the smallest thing we know to the largest. You hit nano scale at about 0:39.

Photo by Anna Shvets from Pexels
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Increasingly customers are looking for more conscious shopping options. According to a Nielsen survey in 2018, nearly half (48%) of U.S. consumers say they would definitely or probably change their consumption habits to reduce their impact on the environment.

But while many consumers are interested in spending their money on products that are more sustainable, few actually follow through. An article in the 2019 issue of Harvard Business Review revealed that 65% of consumers said they want to buy purpose-driven brands that advocate sustainability, but only about 26% actually do so. It's unclear where this intention gap comes from, but thankfully it's getting more convenient to shop sustainably from many of the retailers you already support.

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If the past year has taught us nothing else, it's that sending love out into the world through selfless acts of kindness can have a positive ripple effect on people and communities. People all over the United States seemed to have gotten the message — 71% of those surveyed by the World Giving Index helped a stranger in need in 2020. A nonprofit survey found 90% helped others by running errands, calling, texting and sending care packages. Many people needed a boost last year in one way or another and obliging good neighbors heeded the call over and over again — and continue to make a positive impact through their actions in this new year.

Upworthy and P&G Good Everyday wanted to help keep kindness going strong, so they partnered up to create the Lead with Love Fund. The fund awards do-gooders in communities around the country with grants to help them continue on with their unique missions. Hundreds of nominations came pouring in and five winners were selected based on three criteria: the impact of action, uniqueness, and "Upworthy-ness" of their story.

Here's a look at the five winners:

Edith Ornelas, co-creator of Mariposas Collective in Memphis, Tenn.

Edith Ornelas has a deep-rooted connection to the asylum-seeking immigrant families she brings food and supplies to families in Memphis, Tenn. She was born in Jalisco, Mexico, and immigrated to the United States when she was 7 years old with her parents and sister. Edith grew up in Chicago, then moved to Memphis in 2016, where she quickly realized how few community programs existed for immigrants. Two years later, she helped create Mariposas Collective, which initially aimed to help families who had just been released from detention centers and were seeking asylum. The collective started out small but has since grown to approximately 400 volunteers.