The problem that I wanted to solve in 2005 was to find a commercially viable way to use gold as money. Every gold coin fails in modern times because the tools available today allow very precise micro-drilling, and micro-shaving and these are just way of “clipping” a coin so it has less gold in it than it is supposed to. When coins are passed from hand to hand they eventually fall into a dishonest hand, and get “clipped”.
Bullion, is wonderful, but it really can’t be used as money unless it can be authenticated at .999 fine gold. Stamping that onto a piece of yellow metal does not make it .999 fine gold. Various kinds of gold rounds, bars, and rectangular flat pieces all need to be authenticated before their gold value can be taken in trade. This can be done chemically by some sort of assay or acid test, or it can be done with x-ray spectrographs that put x-rays into the sample and then measure the peaks profile of the returned waveform.
What was wanted in 2005 was a form of gold, in relatively small denominations like 1/10 ounce, 1/4 ounce, and 1/2 ounce, that could be authenticated with very high reliability by automatic equipment operating a high speed. It would not have to be as fast as a money counting machine at a bank, but it would have to be pretty fast, not more than a second or two for each gold sample.
I had been a collector of coins, and specifically of rare gold coins, and I had some that were in “slabs” which were hard plastic holders for the coins that were transparent, and held the coin in a rigidly fixed position within the slab, and that also displayed a coin number and a commercially identifiable hologram giving the initials of the company that slabbed the coin, and had graded it, and taken a very detailed close-up picture of it, so that particular numbered coin could later be authenticated, at least by the grading and slabbing company, of which there were about two major ones.
Coin buyers in those days could be fairly certain that a gold coin was real and not clipped if it came from a reputable grading company, which got it directly as a “proof” or as new but regular commercial coin from the US Mint, or even the Royal Mint of Canada, or certain other national Mints that provided newly made gold coins to one of the top two grading firms.
So, in the slab was a piece of gold, and a piece of paper, and the paper told you that the piece of gold was of such and such condition, and that the coin had not been shaved, drilled, or otherwise tooled, tampered with, clipped, or altered. So a US Gold Eagle coin, for example at MS-65 or at “Proof” grade, would be about 1/2 oz of fine gold, and a Double Eagle of those same grades would be 1 oz of fine gold.
The problem was that getting a coin graded and slabbed, or buying one that was already graded and slabbed was very costly. The cost was a significant fraction of the value of the coin even if the coin’s value was set by the London Gold Fix on the day you bought it.
When the light bulb went on in my head I thought “Why not put the gold in the paper of a bank bill, and then put features on that bank bill that would make it easy to authenticate but extremely hard to counterfeit?”. Gold particles can be finely ground up and mixed with paper pulp wet mash, and then rolled out to make strong paper that contains gold particles enmeshed between the fibers of the paper. Beyond that, the piece of paper can be imprinted in such a way that it can’t be counterfeited at any reasonable cost. The piece of paper can be coated with tough plastic layers in such a way that any tampering with it would be immediately evident, and getting the gold out of that paper, while leaving behind a paper bill that could then be passed on as pristine and valid, would be impossible.
Putting the gold in the paper is not a major act of invention, but the authentication of that gold-bearing paper, which must happen quickly, and with great reliability does take some inventing.
Over the course of 14 years, I looked at all the ways anybody had ever thought of to authenticate a paper document. Much of that inventive talent had been applied to paper money, or postal money orders, and the quality of the work done in this field was astonishingly high. People had been creative, and imaginative, and scientific, and technological to rather extreme degrees and to great lengths.
The problem was that none of their methods would be cheap to make, or quick to authenticate, or quick to recover if their system was somehow compromised.
By 2014 it was clear to me that fluorescent materials should be used, as they had been on many bank bills and paper currencies made by sophisticated makers of paper currency, of which there are about two in the first world nations, and perhaps one more elsewhere.
Rare earths as they are sometimes called, are not particularly rare, but they are quite expensive, and China has an 85% share of the market for Lanthanide Series elements in pure mined and refined form. There are a few other fluorescent element apart from the rare earths, including phosphorus, which were commonly used in television screens from the 1940’s till after the year 2000.
For purposes of paper bullion paper bills, one would use lanthanides doped onto nano-particles in such a way that the fluorescent activity would be maximized. As a practical matter this means using certain techniques for doping the fluorescent element into or onto the nano-particle, and using mostly ions of the +3 variety, although +2 is also possible, and combinations of fluorescent elements can also to used to good effect in producing strong and distinctive waveforms when properly stimulated with photons.
The use of digital signal processing to enhance this prospective product arose because of the very high cost of imprinting each bill with its own distinctive set of fluorescent materials, or even putting the same ones on in different layers, or different shapes, or different molar concentrations. It does not matter which of these variable you vary from bill to bill to make each bill uniquely identifiable and authenticatable, if you vary any of them, production of the bills becomes prohibitively costly. We are right back to gold coins in plastic slabs. The cost of authentication, or in this case the manufacture of the bills is a significant fraction of the value of the individual bills. Making variations this way is do-able, but not commercial. That’s why none of the wonderful, creative, technological, intelligent patents had ever been practiced on any large scale. The fancy ways of making the bills different were too hard and costly to manufacture, and once made too complex to authenticate quickly and reliably.
By 2016 I had solved this problem by using one set of fluorescent materials, in one configuration, and one set of molar concentrations, that could be imprinted on millions of bills by one printing head, using a regular currency printer. I used digital signal processing to slice and dice the waveform returned by these millions of identically printed bills in millions of uniquely distinctive ways, so that each bill had its own authentication standard. These standards could then be store in a database in the authentication machines, and each bill would have its own file number for comparison and authentication purposes. The file number, of course, has to be encrypted on the bill, so it travels with the bill, and is presented to the authentication machine at the same time as the peaks profile waveform from the standardized fluorescent printed zone. After careful consideration, it emerged that a hologram would be the best way to store the secret file number on the bill so it could travel with the bill. Holograms are extremely hard to make, and to read. The methods of making very high grade holograms are advancing fast every year. To break the encryption comprised within a hologram is extremely costly if it can be done at all, and if your effort only allows you to attempt to make one bill containing 1/2 the of an ounce of gold, it’s a risky crime that is not worth doing for the time, money, talent, and risk involved.
Much of the authentication process for value documents or value items verified by my method arises from the pathway by which the various streams of information come into the computer that does the final decision. The path has to be right. And my equipment is quirky, and my authentication files are experimentally based, not calculated. They arise from measurements not formulae. The field data coming off a value document has to match other field data gathered at an earlier time using the same quirky equipment I use and describe as part of my method.
Part of my digital signal processing uses programmable multiple bandpass filters that are fed with sets of variables which allow them to slice and dice the standardized waveform in millions of uniquely distinctive ways.
Because these variables are variable, and quite arbitrary, I can make a whole back-up set of variables and store the back-up set in a big computer kept in a vault, which connects with nothing anywhere.
Because the programmable multiple bandpass filters are programmable, I can wipe all of them world-wide in a matter of seconds, and replace the variable sets in all my authentication machines within a few hours. So, if my system somehow breaks or gets compromised, I can get it back into operation very quickly, cheaply and effectively. It takes a lick’in and keeps on tick’in — which is the highest tier professional standard for any authentication method — can it fail and be re-started quickly? My method is built to be robust, so the answer is “yes”. Knock it down, I can put it back. If you steal from me, you will not steal much. You will steal so little that the insurance against your crime will not be costly to buy or maintain. Cost of doing business.
My method is also used on value items, and some of these, like ID cards, container locks, and DNA sample tags, comprise a risk to life as well as a risk to loss of funds. This must be dealt with by full and fair disclosure, followed by waiver and indemnification. Nothing made by humans in this world is absolutely perfect. Absolute representations or guarantees are inappropriate, and misleading. An authentication method that proves itself to be good enough over a long enough period of time will be relied upon to a reasonable degree and any residual risk will be waived by informed waiver, or trasnferred by insurance. If my method were not better than the prior art it would not be original and useful, which is the standard that must be met to get a US patent.
Engineers, executives, investors, and scientists who really want the details of how my method works can read all about it in Patent No.: US 10,176,661 B2 which was issued on 8 Jan 2019, and is widely reported, and is in the USPTO Patent Gazette for 8 Jan 2019.
My goal of 14 years ago has been attained. Gold can now be used as money. This could affect central banks around the world, particularly in places like Greece, or Zimbabwe, or Venezuela, or in countries that run $2 Trillion worth of new debt every year to keep their treasuries and central banks solvent. People have chosen gold over paper money for at least 6000 years because it has been considered, until recently, pretty reliable as a store of value. Modern tooling and clipping took this away, but my method has put it back. So, I’m hoping that my method may be valued by the “market” or at least one big bank, or post office, or defense department, or possibly just a highly creative and visionary established business that knows a breakthrough new technology when it sees one. My years in this world are not many to come, and my patent is priced to move, and it can only be sold one time to one buyer, and it is good for 20 years starting 8 Jan 2019.