Since the beginning of recorded history, gold has played a significant role in society. In the ancient world, gold ornaments were used in religious rituals symbolizing power, light and life. Over the centuries it has remained the “noblest of metals,” the ultimate currency and the only universally accepted means of exchange.
Today gold helps millions of people throughout the world live longer, healthier lives, and has enabled mankind to conquer space and to develop new electronic and environmental technologies. This essential metal is at the heart of today’s sophisticated global communications network and plays an important role in medical research.
Resistance to Corrosion – Gold is the most non-reactive of all metals. It is benign in all natural elements, and consequently, it will not rust or tarnish when subject to weather, water and oxygen. A combination of nitric and hydrochloric acid, known as aqua regia or royal water, and the cyanides are the only known liquids to dissolve this metal. This resistance to corrosion makes gold ideal for electronics, aerospace and decorative applications.
Electrical Conductivity – Gold is the third most conductive of all metals after silver and copper. It allows current to flow unimpeded at temperatures varying from –55 to +200 degrees centigrade. End uses that require gold’s conductive properties include stereos, telephones, computers, televisions, videocassette recorders and radar equipment.
Ductility and Malleability – Gold is the most ductile and malleable of all metals. It can be drawn into tiny wires or threads without breaking and can be shaped or extended into extremely thin sheets. Gold’s superb ductility is required for the manufacturing of semiconductors, electronic microcircuitry and in architectural design. Its malleability allows artisans to create many finely detailed jewelry and decorative designs.
Thermal Reflectivity – Gold is the best reflector of long wavelength thermal radiation. High purity gold reflects up to 99 percent of infrared rays. As the most efficient thermal reflector, gold finds use in laser-cavity mirrors, infrared night-surveillance scopes, protective coatings on firefighters’ visors, space satellites and aircraft cockpit windows.
Did you know? – An ounce of gold can be hammered into a square sheet 100 feet on each side or drawn into a wire that would stretch 5 miles.
A Golden Fact – Gold is so dense in volume that the total amount ever mined could be contained in a cube measuring 62 feet on each side. The total amount of gold ever mined is 4.2 billion ounces. Number includes production through 1996, information from The Gold Institute.
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