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Properties of metals

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The Allure of Gold

The Allure of Gold

Credit: Lawrence OP
Source: http://www.flickr.com/photos/paullew/3487810383/
License: CC BY-NC 3.0

Gold has been valued by all civilizations. This relatively rare metal has started wars and changed governments. It is used as a medium of exchange and a back-up for paper currency. Gold jewelry has always been a favorite way to express love. Although its value fluctuates almost daily, it is still one of the real symbols of wealth.

News You Can Use

  • Gold is found in a multitude of locations around the world. Many ancient civilizations associated it with some deity or another. The metal was often associated with beauty and/or the cultural elite. Even before its first use as money in ~700 B.C., gold was valued for its use as decoration for eating vessels and idols. It was also widely used for jewelry.
  • Credit: epSos .de
    Source: http://www.flickr.com/photos/epsos/9035006096/
    License: CC BY-NC 3.0

    Gold jewelry is highly valued in almost every civilization in history [Figure2]

  • Gold mining has been the only way to obtain this metal (the alchemists tried to make gold from lead, but were not successful). In rare instances, gold could be found as nuggets on the Earth’s surface, in river beds, or slightly under the Earth. Most gold is mixed with soil and must be mined and extracted before use. Roughly 1-2 grams of gold may be found in a ton of gold ore.
  • As the supply of gold in the Earth has diminished and the concentration of gold in ore is less plentiful than in the past, the question has been raised about mining gold from the ocean. Current estimates suggest the world’s oceans contain about eight million tons of gold dissolved in the water. That works out to be about 1-2 mg gold/ton sea water. At present, the cost of extraction would be more than the amount of money earned by the gold obtained.
  • Watch the video at the link below to learn more about mining gold: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y8jKPT9jSV0

Show What You Know

Use the links below to learn more about mining gold from the ocean. Then answer the following questions.

  1. What is the primary use for gold today?
  2. When was the first known use for gold in transactions?
  3. What is one concern about using gold in electronic devices?
  4. What is the most common current method for extracting metals from seawater?
  5. What is one major drawback to the cost-effective extraction of gold from sea water?

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Image Attributions

  1. [1]^ Credit: Lawrence OP; Source: http://www.flickr.com/photos/paullew/3487810383/; License: CC BY-NC 3.0
  2. [2]^ Credit: epSos .de; Source: http://www.flickr.com/photos/epsos/9035006096/; License: CC BY-NC 3.0

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