back to article Money really does GROW ON TREES say boffins

In an outlying suburb of the Australian capital, Canberra, lies an enormous warehouse filled with over 100,000 data tapes. The warehouse is owned by Geoscience Australia (GA), which keeps a copy of every mine survey every conducted in Australia. Back in 2005 GA embarked on an epic project to re-platform its old tape archive, …


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  1. Mike Brown

    its too early in the morning. is this a serious article about gold growing on trees? or is it about data miners finding "gold" from digging around old data? or both? or neither? gah, must find coffee.

    1. Mike Richards Silver badge

      Freshly caffeinated, so here goes.

      Eucalyptus trees concentrate gold in their leaves. This has been proven by experimentation and fieldwork. However, all the cool kids have been wanting to perform literal data mining on GA's amazing dataset in the hope that there's gold in them thar bytes.

      But it might be cheaper to go into a Eucalyptus forest, snip some leaves and analyse them for gold. Or just follow a koala with a mass spec.

      1. Gavin King

        What's a koala doing with a mass spec?

        1. MrT

          If you polish a koala turd...

          ... it might just glint gold. Instead of examining the leaves, "check the poo"...

          Is this the sort of valuable 'dark matter' that scientists seek...?

          1. Martin Budden Bronze badge

            Re: If you polish a koala turd...

            Wombat poos are much easier to find, because they are cubic and therefore don't roll away. Plus the wombats love to leave their poos on logs and stones in obvious places the middle of the track. There is a video explaining how wombats make their poo into cube shapes in this article.

            1. Wzrd1

              Re: If you polish a koala turd...

              "Wombat poos are much easier to find, because they are cubic and therefore don't roll away."

              Perhaps that is true (I've never investigated wombat scat and really don't feel inclined to do so), but unless wombats suddenly start eating nothing by eucalyptus leaves, the point is moot.

  2. John Smith 19 Gold badge


    Actually SOP in all mining industries is

    a)Keep conducting surveys till you have a good 10 years known reserves

    b)Fire the prospecting team (raising profits and lowering costs)

    c)(2 years later) Start warning future reserves are going down.

    d)(3 years later) Re-hire a survey team.


    This game never gets old.

    Note while the tapes remain readable and processing techniques continue to improve the companies would rather run another virtual survey than actually send people out into new areas (or even old areas to sample leaves) because that's expensive.

  3. Ralph B

    Obligatory HHGTTG Quote

    Since we decided a few weeks ago to adopt leaves as legal tender, we have, of course all become immensely rich. [...] But, we have also run into a small inflation problem on account of the high level of leaf availability. Which means that I gather the current going rate has something like three major deciduous forests buying one ship’s peanut. So, um, in order to obviate this problem and effectively revalue the leaf, we are about to embark on an extensive defoliation campaign, and um, burn down all the forests. I think that’s a sensible move don’t you?

  4. Chris--S

    Have you seen most of Australia? Good luck finding a tree. Maybe if it worked with spinifex or termites!

  5. Old Handle

    And here I thought that was completely implausible when I saw it on Duck Tales.

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