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Birth of a Notion.
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Recently, the new £5 note issued by the bank of England was found
to have been manufactured using animal parts, specifically a tiny
amount of beef tallow. Now, the Vegan population responded in
the usual level-headed and proportionate manner by being
outraged at the presence of near-homeopathic
byproduct bovine triglyceride. This situation has now been
rectified to the satisfaction of all, the notes are now cow-free
and the Vegans can talk about this at parties for a decade or so.
While I'm enthusiastic about the general principle of making
money a meat product, I think they went the wrong way with cow
fat. You don't really get any added features. DNA is a lot more
useful. DNA sequencing is cheaper than it used to be. A whole
genome sequence used to be announced by a president with great
fanfare, now it's announced by email, with coffee. If you could
get DNA into your banknote, you could use it as an embedded anti-
fraud mechanism, tying a specific sequence to the serial number.
Now, you COULD just synthesize a little DNA molecule encoding
just the information you need plus a couple of convenient primer
sites and mix that in with the note as it is made. The trouble
there is that you have to synthesize a unique molecule for each
note and the DNA is going to be small. This means any old common
criminal with a garden-variety molecular biology lab can forge
Much better to let nature do the DNA production and variation.
Simply grow a series of varied Drosophila fruit fly colonies, and
smash one fly into each individual banknote during production.
Then, should you want to trace the production, you sequence the
DNA and you can use all the phylogeny and other tedious genetic
analysis to establish when and where the note was made. The
producer should also keep a small section of the note for exact
matching, but regular sequencing of the fly colonies every 10
generations or so should get you in the ballpark.
For the foreseeable future, criminal currency forger aren't going
to be able to synthesize whole genomes, and you Vegan-proof your
money. Extra points for growing the files on the various stable
2003! Ah, callow youth. But still a stellar idea. [bungston, Dec 08 2016]
||Just use dead fruit flies as a form of currency.
||You know, [bs], this is actually not such a stupid idea. Perhaps ancient cultures that used cowries and other biologicals as currency were onto something.