Gold A Little Big History
Introduction • Gold is the metal of all other products of the earth most eagerly sought after -- beautiful in appearance, soft and ductile in its nature, it possesses charms and attractions to the ignorant savage, as also to the most highly cultured. No mind is either too high or too low to despise gold, either for its usefulness and beauty as ornaments, or for its intrinsic value as a purchasing power. It has in the past, and will in the future, be the precursor of much good and evil.
Physical Properties • Reflective, malleable, and ductile • Bright yellow • Can easily be spread out into a thin sheet • Heavy • Soft • 2.5 on the Mohs hardness scale
Chemical Properties • Good conductor of heat and electricity • Very unreactive • Does not oxidize • Creates alloys with other metals • Used to make gold jewelry stronger (karat level) • Atomic number 79 • Transition metal • Usually found as pure gold • Can be found in a tellurium compound
Gold’s Formation • Hydrogen and Helium first form after The Big Bang • Big Bang nucleosynthesis • Condense into stars • Stars begin the process of fission • Stellar nucleosynthesis • Stars collide and explode to create new atoms • Supernova nucleosynthesis • Neutron stars
Gold’s Formation • May have accumulated from the cloud of dust and gas during earth’s formation • Does not account for the amount of surface gold • Plausible theory: gold asteroid
Timeline • First gold ever formed- 13.3 billion years ago • First gold on earth- 4 billion years ago • 3.8 million years ago for asteroid theory • 4600 BC- Earliest records of use by civilizations (Egypt) • 700 BC- Earliest use as a currency by the Lydians (Turkey) • 7th to 14th Century- Trans Saharan Gold Trade
Timeline • 1492- Christopher Columbus “discovers” America • 1694- Bank of England keeps 15% of it’s money in gold reserves • 1792- The United States goes on the gold standard • 1849- California Gold Rush begins • 1971- The whole world goes off the gold standard
Trans Saharan Trade • 7th to 14th Century • Connected the Mediterranean and Saharan Africa • Later expanded to include: India, China and Arabia • High demand for gold, high supply of salt • Salt could have been traded ounce for ounce • Created wealth on both ends of the trade • Created an exchange of ideas, increased collective learning as the world became more interconnected.
Spanish Conquest • Starts when Christopher Columbus sails to the New World • Others follow • Gold is discovered and sent back to the Spanish Throne • Sailors are motivated by the possibility of getting rich
Spanish Conquest • Gold funded future explorations • Significant effect on trade, world economics • Caused Spain to become the leading world superpower • Motivated other nations to explore the New World
California Gold Rush • Gold is discovered in 1848 in California • Huge amounts of immigration to California from in and out of the country • 300,000 people • Helped to qualify California for statehood • Made California the center for business in the west • Influx of gold made the United States significantly richer
Gold Standard • A currency is based of a fixed amount of gold • Gives paper money real value • Paper money is essentially a promise note for gold • Known as representative money • Gold was used for its durability, rarity, ease of identification • Often used in conjunction with silver • Full gold standard: All of a governments money is backed with gold
Advantages • Long term stability • Amount of gold stays constant • Low amount of inflation • Less uncertainty with international trade • Fixed trade rates between countries • You can trade in money for gold!
Disadvantages • Unequal global distribution of gold • Places a monetary limit on economic progress • Limits the ability of the federal government to control the amount of money based on economic progress • In a recession, it helps to release more money into the system • Cannot print more money than gold you have • Short term price instability
Disadvantages • Increases deflation • If a country wants to decline the value of it’s currency on the gold standard, it will fall sharply, not take a steady decline
Gold Standard • US comes off the gold standard in 1933 • 1971- Richard Nixon declares the “petrodollar” • US persuades OPEC to sell all oil based on the US dollar • Takes the world off the gold standard
Economy • http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CTtf5s2HFkA
Greek Mythology • King Midas
Egypt • Hieroglyphics showed gold having the power of the gods, bringing fertility and sunlight to their lands • Pharaohs consumed gold • Often shown in Mythology • Kings were buried with gold
El Dorado • “City of Gold” • Motivated many Europeans to search for gold in the New World
Medicine • Use dates back thousands of years • 2500 BC- Used to treat small pox, skin ulcers, and measles in China • Gold has been marketed to treat rheumatoid arthritis • Gold compounds can be used in the treatment of cancer • Used in implants at risk for infection • Can treat facial nerve paralysis
Electronics • Plays a huge part in telecommunications, transportation, information technology and other high performance and safety critical applications • Can conduct electricity well • Does not erode • Used in wires, microchips • http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HZXyT969V0Y
Conclusion • Gold has influenced the world sinificantly. Through it’s use as a medium of exchange gold influenced human interaction and collective learning. Now, gold is used in a variety of items, and enables us to have such things as: airbags, computers, and golden iPads. It also allows us to cure cancer and see into the depths of space. Gold is one of the most important elements used by humans, and the world would be significantly different without it.
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