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p. 403. Gold: the glorious and accursed elementlocked

  • Philip Ball


‘Gold: the glorious and accursed element’ explores the allure of gold. Gold has dominated men's hearts throughout the ages. It is not a very useful metal, but it is prized for its beauty and unreactivity. It can be mined from lodes or riverbeds, and most modern gold is from South Africa. Gold was traditionally purified via cupellation, but newer techniques such as cyanidation exist, and bacterial or plant based extraction is now possible. Alchemists sought to create gold from other metals, but this was chemically impossible. Gold was extremely useful in establishing trade and money, and was the bedrock of early global financial systems.

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