Uses of Gold
Gold has been prized by people since the earliest times for making statues and icons and also for jewelry to adorn their bodies. Intricately sculptured art objects and adornment jewelry have been uncovered in the Sumerian royal Tombs in southern Iraq and the tombs of Egyptian kings. Significant buildings and religious temples and statues have been covered with thinly beaten sheets of gold. Due to its rarity, gold has long been considered a symbol of the wealth and power of its possessor.
In 2001, it was estimated that 2870 tons of gold were produced worldwide. About 80 percent of that gold production was used to make jewelry, the majority of which was sold in India, Europe and the United States of America. Gold jewelry is universally popular, loved for its lustrous yellow color and untarnishing character. In many Asian countries, such as India, Thailand, and China, gold is important to religious ceremonies and social occasions, such as the Chinese New Year and Hindu marriages in India.
Importantly, gold is still regarded throughout much of the world as a store of financial value, particularly in many developing countries. However it has many other vital uses in modern life.
Each year approximately 660 tons of gold are used in telecommunications, information technology, medical treatments, and various industrial applications. Due to its high electrical conductivity, gold is a vital component of many electrical devices, including computers. It is used in the manufacture of approximately 50 million computers each year, as well as millions of televisions, DVDs, VCRs, video cameras and mobile phones.
Gold has been used in medicine since 1927, when it was found to be useful in the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis. Even before then it was used in dentistry, in fillings and false teeth. Because it is non-toxic and biologically benign, gold is perfect for many medical applications. Surgeons use gold instruments to clear blocked coronary arteries. In another medical procedure, gold pellets are injected into the body to help obstruct the spread of prostate cancer in men. Gold is also used in lasers, which allow surgeons to seal wounds quickly or treat once-inoperable heart conditions. Thin gold wires are used in many surgical procedures to provide strong and inert support.
Did You Know?
The Olympic gold medal was first presented in 1908. Before then, winners received silver medals. Today's gold medal is actually made of silver, guilded with at least six grams (0.21 ounces) of pure gold.
Onboard computers in the Galileo space probe are protected from short circuiting using Heavy Ion conductors made from silicon and gold.
The ‘Pathfinder’ robot that took close-up pictures from the planet Mars, used an intricate gold circuitry to transmit information back to Earth.
The most detailed, precise images ever of Neptune and Uranus were captured by the Keck telescopes, which used gold-coated mirrors.
Every telephone contains gold in the miniature transmitter in its mouthpiece. Because of its ability to convey a superior signal, gold is also used to coat phone jacks and connecting cords.
Airforce One, the airplane used by the President of the United States, is protected from heat-seeking missiles by gold-plated reflectors.
Motor vehicle airbag deployment systems use gold-plated sensors which signal the airbag to deploy. Gold is the only metal resistant and reliable enough to use in these life-saving devices.
One ounce of gold can be stretched into a 50m long wire or hammered into a sheet covering 100 square feet.
The World Cup trophy is 32cm high and is made of solid 18ct gold.
Gold fetched its highest-ever price of $870 per ounce on January 21, 1980.