how gold is used
Our Medical Miracles
Five thousand years ago, our ancestors cherished gold for its mystical
qualities, believing it warded off evil spirits and healed the sick. As we
begin the 21st Century, non-toxic and biologically benign gold is used by
modern medicine to help us lead longer, healthier lives.
Focused lasers: With gold-plated interiors, lasers give off a more focused
beam, helping save the lives of heart patients suffering from once-inoperable
heart conditions and tumors.
Accurate thermometers: Gold-plated thermometers give accurate body
temperatures of newborns and unconscious patients.
Life-saving medicines: Biochemists use gold to bond with complex and compound
materials, such as proteins, to create needed drugs. Genetic research:
Researchers place gold on DNA strands to study the hybrid genetic material of
An Everyday Lifesaver
Outside the world of medicine, gold is at work, usually unseen, helping make
people's lives safer.
In cars, airbags depend on gold-coated contacts and electronic sensors for
reliability, saving hundreds of thousands of lives in the past 15 years. In
the air, commercial airplanes rely on gold-bonded compressor vanes to cool
their turbines from exhaust that can reach up to 1150 degrees Fahrenheit. At
work, gold-coated infrared equipment is used to detect a dangerous build-up
of carbon monoxide and other air pollutants. Below ground, miners rely on
gold-activated sensors to warn of low levels of oxygen and trigger an
automatic replenishment in seconds.
Exploring the Heavens
Since Neil Armstrong first set foot on the moon in 1969, gold has played a
key role in our conquest of space. Thanks to its unmatched reflective
qualities, gold is used to protect spacecrafts and astronauts from the
searing heat of the sun and infrared radiation. From spacewalks to weather
satellites, gold coating is making space accessible from the earth.
In spacewalks, an astronaut relies on gold coating to protect the vital
lifeline tethering him to the ship, while the astronaut's eyes are shielded
from the sun's rays by a gold-coated visor. In the space shuttles, rocket
engines have four miles of gold-brazed tubing, which safely carries liquid
hydrogen without melting the ship's nozzle at operating temperatures of up to
6000 degrees Fahrenheit. In geo-stationary weather satellites, sheets of
gold-coated Mylar deflect heat that would otherwise degrade their
performance. In the Hubble telescope, all parts of its electronic camera are
coated with gold to insulate against heat damaging its celestial snapshots.
Opening a New Era of Global Communications
Since the first rudimentary computer, gold has been at the vanguard of the
march of digital technologies. Today's Information Age is dependent on gold,
making possible the free exchange of ideas from every corner of the world.
Computers, the heart of the digital revolution, depend on gold circuitry.
Electronics and telecommunications equipment banks on gold for reliable
performance, since gold does not corrode in normal atmospheric conditions.
Trading in securities and other financial instruments depends on gold for
static-free transmissions worth billions of dollars. National security is
aided through the major role gold plays guaranteeing the reliability of
sophisticated electronic monitoring and communications.
How Gold Is Produced
Mining and Processing of Gold