This article has been reviewed and approved by the following Topic Editor: Cutler J. Cleveland (other articles)
Gold is described and known as a precious metal. The combination of gold’s relative scarcity and its obvious beauty has made it a very valuable commodity throughout the history of humanity. It is most probably the oldest precious metal known to man. Wars have been fought over it and countless numbers have died trying to gain it or protect it.
Scientifically speaking, gold is an element, a metal, with an atomic number 79. Its physical and chemical properties make it ideal for a number of applications. It is very stable and as a result seldom combines with other elements. In other words, it does not corrode or rust. It conducts electricity very well (only silver is a better conductor of electricity). It conducts heat very well. Gold is very malleable which means it can be hammered into shapes. Gold is so malleable that it can be hammered into a sheet so thin that light can pass through it. It is also ductile, which means it can be drawn into long, thin wires: a wire thread approximately 50 miles long can be drawn from a single troy ounce of gold (31.1 grams). It is also one of the densest metals: a cubic foot of gold weighs over 1,200 pounds.