The most astounding fact about gold is that it was originally formed during the collision of two ultra dense neutron stars. These are the collapsed cores of stars that exploded in a supernova. One teaspoon of neutron star stuff would have a mass of about a billion tonnes on earth.
So gold is basically dust that was atomised in the collisions. It whirls around the universe forming clouds that later become denser with the effects of gravity. And most of the precious metal was then added to our planet when the Earth was hit by about 20 billion billion tonnes of asteroid material. It is very rare – about one part per billion in the earth’s crust.
Some scientists believe that the centre of the earth is full of trapped gold – a heart of gold.
Gold was one of the first metals to be discovered by humans about 7000 years ago. We also discovered copper.
The symbol for gold is au, from the Latin word “aurum” which means “shining dawn”. Aurora is the Roman goddess of dawn.
The atomic number (the number of protons in the nucleus) is 79. It lies in between Platinum (78) and Mercury (80).
Gold is a transition metal. It melts at 1337.58 K (1064.43 degrees Celsius)
Our English word “gold” comes froma Proto-Indo-European word “ghel” or “geolu”, which means yellow, green or bright.
Gold has been discovered on every continent and about 80% of the world’s gold is still in the ground.
Gold never rusts.
Gold is very pliable. One ounce (just over 28 g) can be stretched for over 80 km.
You can eat gold. Fine gold leaf can be found in fruit, snacks, coffee, tea and liquor, especially in Asia.
The largest gold nugget ever found is the 72 kg Welcome Stranger nugget from Australia. It was discovered near Dunolly, Victoria, in 1869.
The world’s largest gold bar has a mass of 250 kg. It is kept in the Toi Gold Museum in Japan.
The probable origin of the myth of the golden fleece is that ancient Egyptians used sheepskin to mine for gold dust in the sands of the Black Sea. This dust was thought to be the flesh and skin of the sun god Ra.
To produce 500 tons of gold you need to mine 70 million tons of earth.
Gold is measured in carats. This comes from the word “carob”, which was a standard of measurement in the ancient Middle East. The carob tree has fruit called carob beans and these beans were thought to all be equal in mass. The ancient traders used these beans for measurement. A gemstone was put on one side of a balance scale and then carob seeds were added to the other. So 10 carob seeds later became 10 carats. In 1871 British bureaucrats eventually averaged out the mass to 0.204304 grams. Today this has been rounded to 200 mg. Pure gold has a carat weight of 24.