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Discovery Magazine 6/1/2000

Everything That Glitters is Not….

You have probably seen lots of jewelry made out of this metal. Maybe you have even seen a few coins with its yellow glow. What metal is yellow, used to make jewelry, and is very expensive? That's right, it's gold. Gold has been one of the most precious metals in the world for thou­ sands of years. Explorers crossed dangerous oceans to find it, miners risked their lives to dig it up, and countries have fought other countries to get it.

What makes gold so valuable? The word "gold" comes from the old English word geolo, which meant "yellow." It is one of the rarest metals on the Earth, because it makes up only 5 parts in every ten million parts of the Earth's crust. (Imagine having ten million M&Ms, and finding only five yellow ones in that huge pile!)

Not only is gold rare, but it can do many things that other metals can't do. Gold is the most malleable metal on earth. That means it can be beaten into thin sheets. In fact, one ounce of gold about the size of a walnut can be beaten into a thin sheet that is 300 feet square. A metal sheet of that size can cover one-and-a-half football fields.

Gold is also the most ductile metal in the world. That means it can be pulled into thin wires. An ounce of gold can be made into a wire over five miles long (26,400 feet).

Did you know that gold does not rust or tarnish? Tin, iron, and other metals react with oxygen, which makes them rust. Gold is the least reactive of all metals, so it does not react with oxygen and rust like other metals.

This amazing metal also can carry heat and electricity better than most metals. The main engine nozzle of the Space Shuttle gets extremely hot, and can reach 6,000 degrees Fahrenheit. Since gold conducts heat so well, it is used in the nose of the Space Shuttle to carry heat away from delicate electrical instruments. The Space Shuttle has quite an expensive nose, doesn't it?

Gold is rare, precious, and useful, but all the gold in the world is not worth as much to God as one human soul (Matthew 16:26-27).

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