What is gold?

Gold is a transition metal, found on the third row of the eleventh column of the periodic table of elements.

The atomic number of gold is 79, due to its possession of 79 protons, along with 79 electrons and 118 neutrons.

gold bars

The chemical symbol for gold is Au, and its atomic weight is 196.97. At room temperature, gold appears as a solid, shiny yellow metal.

Its melting point is 1064 degrees Celsius, and its boiling point is 2856 degrees Celsius.

Thus, gold can retain its structure and properties at quite high temperatures. Gold is also considered a precious metal, in addition to silver and platinum.

Platinum rings

Characteristics and Properties

In its standard, most typical form, gold is a solid but soft metal that comes in a shiny, yellow type of color.

Gold is known to be the most ductile of all of the known metals, which means that it is malleable, moveable, and can be bent and shaped into things like wire or flat sheets.

water-waves-circles

Gold is the metal most resistant to corrosion and rust, and has very little reaction to elements such as oxygen and carbon dioxide when exposed to air or water.

It is also one of the most conductive metals of the periodic table, making an excellent conductor for both electricity and heat.

electrical impulse

History

Interestingly, gold has been around, known of, and in use since the times of ancient civilizations.

Very old, well-known civilizations such as Ancient Egypt were known to have used gold in a great number of things more than 5,000 years ago.

ancient egypt facts

Even as far back as Ancient Egypt, gold has been a rare, valued, and treasured metal, representing wealth in many ways for many centuries.

Gold, unlike most other metals but much like platinum and silver, is difficult to find among the minerals in the Earth’s outer crust layer.

platinum crystals

However, it can also be found in the earth in its pure form, although this is extremely rare.

Gold can be found in compounds with other metals in the platinum-like group in the earth, such as both platinum and silver.

Its very low reactivity means that it is usually found in a pure state, and does not require a mining or purifying process.

mining-excavation

How Gold is Used Today

Because of its classification as a precious metal, one of the most common uses of gold is to make jewelry, and sometimes to make coins and other currency.

Much of modern gold jewelry is not pure gold, but rather an alloy, such as with copper or silver, which helps makes it harder.

silver facts

Pure gold – 24 karat gold – is very soft, and needs to be alloyed with other heavy metals in order to become more durable for use in appliances and in jewelry. 

Another use of gold is in electronics, dental work, heat shielding, and even cancer treatment.

Many of the objects involved in these areas are coated with gold in order to promote conductivity, reliability, and protect them from corrosion.

quiz-kids

Fun Quiz Time!

  1. What is the chemical symbol for gold?
  2. What is the pure form of gold called?
  3. What color does gold appear in?
  4. How many protons does gold have?
  5. How long ago was gold used?

Answers:

  1. Au
  2. 24 karat gold
  3. Shiny yellow
  4. 79
  5. More than 5,000 years ago

Chemistry

periodic table

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