Want to stay on top of all the space news? Follow @universetoday on TwitterGold has been sought after as far back as recorded history goes, but who discovered gold remains a secret that no one will ever be able to unravel. Gold adorns ancient Egyptian mummies and has been found in burials that predate the oldest of the pyramids. Its wide spread use over the course of human existence is the very reason that no one knows who discovered it. So, since we will never be able to name the person who discovered gold, why not look at some of it properties and a few interesting facts about the metal?
Gold is the symbol Au, an atomic number of 79, melts at 1064.18°C, and boils at 2856°C. The native metal occurs as nuggets, grains in rocks, in veins, and in alluvial deposits. It can occasionally occur as a compound, most commonly with tellurium. Gold metal is dense, soft, and shiny. It is the most malleable and ductile pure metal known. Pure gold does not oxidize in air or water. A total of 5.3 billion troy ounces of gold has been mined to date.
In ancient times gold was thought to have healing powers. Today, we know that gold salts have an anti-inflammatory property. The gold supply is only predicted to last for another 45 years at the current rate of consumption. Gold is extremely non-reactive and only reacts with a few known chemicals, so consuming pure gold will not affect you in any way. Very few pieces of jewelry contain pure gold because it is so costly and soft. 24 carat is pure gold, so the lower the carat number the higher the alloy content(silver, copper). Gold is the best known electrical conductor and conducts heat well, also.
While you will never know who discovered gold, you now have a few facts about the metal and a few fun trivia snippets for your friends.
We’ve also recorded an entire episode of Astronomy Cast all about the atom. Listen here, Episode 164: Inside the Atom.