[ExI] Gold

Dan dan_ust at yahoo.com
Fri May 24 19:16:30 UTC 2013

On Friday, May 24, 2013 1:29 PM John Clark <johnkclark at gmail.com> wrote:
> On Fri, May 24, 2013  Kelly Anderson <kellycoinguy at gmail.com> wrote:
>> One of the things Brent's cannonizer position said was that if Nasa
>> (or SpaceX?) found and brought back a large quantity of gold from
>> outer space that it would devalue gold. While basic supply/demand
>> clearly demands that the price of gold would go down, I personally
>> don't think it would go down all that much because it is such a useful
>> element on its own. I read an article in an old National Geographic
>> where the author had a frying pan created out of solid gold, about
>> 3 pounds worth. He said it made the best fried eggs he had ever experienced,
> Gold is about 60% denser than lead and a gold frying pan would weigh
> about 5 times as much as a aluminum one

I don't think the weight concern would matter all that much here, especially if this were being used in restaurants. People already use cast iron and ceramic pans that are quite heavy. Yeah, not everyone does, but if those eggs taste really good and the price is not all that great, one can easily imagine the gold frying pan becoming something many people have, but they only lug it out when they want to make a special meal as is done now with special cookware.

> and would be so soft you could bend the pan with your hands, so I
> don't think it would be a big market even if the metal was cheap.

Well, gold can be alloy with other metals to make it less pliable. Also, I don't know about the heating properties of the frying pan Kelly mentioned, but might it not need a solid gold pan, but just a partly gold one? If so, then one might make a lighter pan overall that just has gold where it needs to be.

> I can only think of a few properties of gold that make it interesting
> technologically, it's the most non corrosive metal after iridium, you
> can hammer it into thinner sheets than any other metal, it makes good
> connecters because it is the third best electrical conductor after
> silver and copper and it doesn't form a thin oxidized layer on its
> surface which can interfere with electrical current at the low voltages
> used modern electronics, and it's the best reflector of infrared light
> so it is used in IR reflecting telescopes instead of aluminum or silver
> which reflects visible light best.

You just named a few properties that make it very useful and might make it more widely used! Imagine if silicon were now the price of gold...

> I don't think any of these uses will ever develop into huge markets
> and if gold was cheap people would stop using it in jewelry.

They might, and I do think the price of gold will drop if people even expect some to come back from space (or if Earth's commodities markets become integrated into wider solar system commodities markets). But it might also lead to people just using gold instead of costume jewelry. Hard to predict fashion here. I do think you're right in respect to it being a prestige item, but it might still have some demand. The shift, though, might be from something being made of high quality gold to specific designs. (In a way, this might mirror how coin collectors are interested in more than metal content.)

> I've heard it said that a martian would think it odd that with great
> effort humans extract gold from the ground  but most of it they put
> it right back into the ground in deep bank vaults and do nothing else
> with it.

The people who made that argument on Earth favored fiat currency. I'd rather we'd have stayed with the old folly than embraced the "new" one. (Actually, paper currencies weren't new. Think of the phrase "not worth a Continental." That arose because of American Revolutionary paper money that quickly inflated. And other methods of fiddling with money were around long before paper currency, such as coin clipping, sweating, and plain old devaluation.)

 See my SF short story "Residue":
http://www.amazon.com/Residue-ebook/dp/B00BS3T0RM/ -- US
http://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B00BS3T0RM -- UK
http://www.amazon.ca/dp/B00BS3T0RM -- Canada 
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