Ever Heard the tale of King Midas? The tale of King Midas tells of a greedy king. Midas wished that everything he touched would turn to gold. But he was sorry when his wish was granted. He could not eat because his food and water also turned to gold.
So, Why Is Gold So Valuable?
People have since ancient times used gold for jewelry and a means of payment for services. They used it in making religious objects, works of art and relics. Gold is unusual substance, even among metals.
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- It does not rust or even grow dull and discolored. That means that Gold coins recovered from sunken treasures are still as shiny as when they sank.
- Gold is a soft metal, soft enough to be easily shaped into jewelry and other items. An ounce of gold can be hammered into a sheet 16 feet on each side. It can be stretched into a wire 100 kilometers long.
People find gold to be very beautiful. And it is a rare substance. All the gold in the world would fit in a cube 20 meters on each side. And because it is so rare, its value doesn’t change very much from one year to the next.
How Do You Get Gold?
The easiest way to mine gold is with a large pan. You fill the pan with sand or gravel that contains tiny bits of gold. Then you swirl the pan under a gentle stream of water. The lighter gravel or sand gradually washes out with the water. The heavier gold particles collect at the bottom of the pan. Gold is so heavy that it doesn’t take many tiny flakes to make an ounce.
Today, gold is most often mined by digging underground with machines. Rock that contains gold is treated with chemicals to separate out the gold. Nuggets of solid gold are quite rare. The largest nugget ever found weighed about 130 pounds (59 kilograms). About two-thirds of all gold mined today comes from South Africa.
How Is Gold Used?
- Gold is used for many things besides coins, decorations, and jewelry. Gold conducts electricity very well. It is used in tiny electrical circuits.
Fun Fact: There are very small amounts of gold in your computer.
- Gold is also used to protect tall buildings and spaceships from the Sun’s heat. The Sun’s rays bounce off even a thin coating of gold.
- Gold-coated mirrors are used in telescopes.
- Dentists use gold for tooth fillings.
- Gold is even used in medicine, to treat cancer and arthritis.
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