1

This is the sentence before the one that I am asking about:

If we broke open all their newest phones, which are just a fraction of the total that’ve been built, and split them into their component parts, that would produce around 85,000 kilograms of gold, 875,000 of silver, and 40 million kilograms of copper.

And this is the sentence that I am interested in:

How did this precious cache get into our phones, and can we reclaim it?

Does cache refer to the memory? Or "precious cache" is a different term and refers to something else?

2

Before computer scientists borrowed the word cache and applied it to computer memory, the word meant:

cache (n.) 1. a secret or hidden storage space for money, valuables, or weapons.
                 2. that which is hidden in a cache

Since the preceding sentence is talking about gold, silver, and copper, I believe that the word "cache" here is referring to the large stockpile of precious metals. 85,000 kilograms of gold is quite the mother lode!

However, I wonder if the author is being creative and using a little pun here. I mean, the writer could have just as easily used a synonym:

How did this precious hoard get into our phones, and can we reclaim it?

How did this precious treasure get into our phones, and can we reclaim it?

By using the word cache instead, there is a double meaning in the sentence. The cache of gold, silver, and copper (that is, the hoard of precious metals) used to make up the components of the phone (including, presumably, the phone's cache) makes a clever play on words that the synonyms can't replicate.

  • I think you're generally right, but I'd suggest including a different definition of cache. Cache can either mean the hiding place, or the treasure stored in the hiding place; it's that latter meaning being used in the quotation. – Juhasz Dec 27 '18 at 16:13
  • @Juhasz - Great point! Edited. – J.R. Dec 27 '18 at 16:43

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