Gold Was Chemically Destined to Be Money All Along

I think most of you reading this right now are aware that gold is unlike any other metal, certainly any other element. It doesn’t play by the same rules as iron or tin or aluminum, and its value has nothing to do with its utility—or lack thereof. People valued the yellow metal for its beauty and malleability eons before they knew of its usefulness in conducting electricity or its chemical inertness. That gold is so chemically “boring,” though, is one of the main reasons why it’s so highly valued, even today. This is the conclusion of Andrea Sella, distinguished professor of chemistry at University College London. In 2013, Sella spoke with Justin Rowlatt of the BBC World Service, walking him through all 118 elements of the periodic table. Gold, according to Sella, is the best possible candidate for a currency of any value. As he points out, we can automatically eliminate whole swaths of the periodic table for various reasons. We can cross out gases, halogens and...

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