For a lot of people, teenagers especially, Christmas is about the gifts.  We exchange gifts at Christmas because of the gifts brought to the baby Jesus by the three wise men.

The first of these gifts was gold.

gold bar weight

Gold is a shiny metal element, found in the transition block of the periodic table.  It is a very unreactive element, making it ideal for jewellery and electrical contacts and computer chips.   Gold nanoparticles are used as catalysts to speed up chemical reactions and lower the endure that they need to start.

Gold is a soft metal, but it can be made more durable by alloying it with other metals.  The purity of gold is measured in carats, with 24 carat being  pure.  Common alloys are 9 and 18 carat gold.

The price of gold fluctuates, but is currently around £43 per gram and it renaissance one of the few commodities that is universally accepted in exchange for goods or services.  Most countries have gold reserves and it is thought that 45% of all the World’s gold is held by governments for monetary purposes.

Gold has been known since ancient times and has always been highly valued.  There are many examples of gold work, with the funerary mask of the Egyptian Pharaoh, Tutankhamun being one of the most famous.

Between 1848 and 1855, California,  on the West coast of America, saw a gold rush, following the discovery of gold by James Marshall at Sutters Mill, near the city of Coloma. In a little under 2 years, almost 100,000 people headed to California to search for gold.  The conditions were hard and the rewards few.

In many situations, we still refer to the best of the best as being ‘the gold standard’ because gold is still so highly prized today. Another phrase which refers to this precious metal is to be “worth its weight in gold,” because gold is one of the most dense metals, so feels very heavy for its size and shape.

Until next time, keep calm and apply some Science!

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