Density of Gold

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Bibliographic Entry Result
(w/surrounding text)
Cutnell, John D. and Kenneth W. Johnson. Physics 4th Edition. New York: Wiley. 1998: 308.
Substance Density (kg/m3)
Gold 19 300
19,300 kg/m3
CRC Handbook of Chemistry & Physics. 55th ed. Ohio: Chemical Rubber Co. 1974-75: B-15. "b.p 2807C; sp. gr. 19.32 (20C); valence 1 or 3. Known and highly valued from earliest times." 19,320 kg/m3
Huber, Carol. Gold Panning. Chugach National Forest. 1997. "Gold has a specific gravity of 19.3, meaning it is more than 19 times heavier than an equal volume of water." 19,300 kg/m3
The Illustrated Science and Invention Encyclopedia. Connecticut. H.S. Stutmann, 1974. "Its tarnish-free surface, attractive colour and very high density -- one cubic foot (0.028m3) weighs over half a ton -- as well as its rarity, make it highly prized." 18,000 kg/m3
The Educators Resource Guide to the Klondike Gold Rush of 1898. Klondike Gold Rush National Historical Park. Seattle, Washington. "Gold is an extremely dense mineral with a specific gravity of 19.2 (19.2 times heavier than water)." 19,200 kg/m3

Gold is a precious metal which has been sought after by humans ever since they had the concept of possession. People of almost every culture have a history of alchemy, the superstitious process of turning rocks or cheap metals into gold. Alchemy has been recorded to have been practiced as far back as 1900 BC by the Greek-named Egyptian King Hermes Trismegistus. The Density of gold is first known to have been investigated by Archimedes circa 210 BC in the famous story of where the King of Syracuse asked Archimedes to find out if his crown was made of real gold. Archimedes determined this by submerging the crown and a piece of gold with the same weight in water and observing how much water was displaced.

This led to the definition of density, Density"="mass/volume. As found through that equation, the density of gold is 19,300 kg/m3.

The standard units for density are kg/m3 but density can also be recorded as specific gravity which is the density of the material divided by the density of water (1000 kg/m3). Specific gravity of gold (then recorded as 19.2) was important to the gold miners of the mid-1800s for when they needed to determine whether they had gold or fool's gold since they did not have any quality measuring devices. The high density of gold also allowed a common form of gold accumulation called panning. This was where gold-carrying water was taken into the pan and shaken. The less dense sediments would float to the top and the very dense gold dust would sink to the bottom where it could be collected. Even though this was a slow means of getting gold and was impractical to do year-round in places like Klondike where the water was frozen nine months per year, panning to step one for prospectors when deciding where to stake a claim.

Ruwan Meepagala -- 2004

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