When one read the words “gold mining” – it is easy to picture an old miner scratching around in a streambed with a beat up straw hat, a pick, and a donkey by his side out in the wilderness of California. But open-pit mining involves explosives and heavy equipment, the gold being found as tiny concentrations in otherwise nondescript rock. Typically the rock is treated with compounds of cyanide, and it takes some 30 tons of rock to produce an ounce of gold.

The result is a major environmental problem near the mines, which produce tons of highly toxic waste. 

At the next science café, Dr. Fraser Stoddart, Director of the Center for Chemistry of Integrated Systems at Northwestern University will discuss how some scientists at Northwestern are working towards a change in this process for the better: “Serendipity: Making Gold Green,” 6-8:30 p.m. on April 16 Firehouse Grill, 750 Chicago Ave. Free lecture.