Thursday, May 27, 2010

Gold Has Its Utilitarian Uses Too

It doesn't take an anthropologist from Mars to show that gold has enduring value as a status good; an anthropologist from good ol' Earth will do. There are, of course, more utilitarian uses for the metal. Some of them were highlighted by Richard Holliday of the World Gold Council, according to an article in the Business Report of South Africa. In addition to gold in dentistry, which was used as far back as the 6th century by the Etruscans, there's also use in electronics. More noteworthy, although unlikely to be a significant source of demand, is the use of gold nanoparticles in medial treatments.
Holliday argued that in the coming years, a whole host of new industrial and medical uses for gold will emerge from research laboratories, based on gold's unique technical properties.

"Overall medical use is never going to be a driver or a mainstay of gold demand. But it's going to punch above its weight because of the stories it can tell," he said.

"I think people want to hear those stories: when they are investing in gold or buying a piece of jewelry, the magic of gold isn't just about its value and beauty and history in those area, it's also about its elemental qualities, amazing properties as well."...

You don't have to be a Zone head to imagine the possibility of gold being manufactured cheaply at some point in the distant future. The realization of that possibility, I aver, is the only development that would make a gold standard obsolete. Gold would no longer be valuable enough to serve as money.

Here's the funny part: if gold becomes as cheap as copper, it's so-called "intrinsic value" would increase markedly. A lot of uses for gold, impossible now because of gold's expensiveness, would become economical.

I'll leave that supposed paradox of intrinsic value hanging, as it's long been solved.


  1. I remember the Twilight Episode to which this post refers and I found it to be somewhat misleading. Even a thousand years from now, that someone should find an energy source so abundant as to transmute other elements to gold effectively, then I would be surprised....amazed!

    I have heard it argued that Aluminum used to be more expensive than Gold - and this is true. But that was because the electricity needed to refine aluminum from Bauxite was expensive and notice I said REFINE (the Aluminum was there all along, no one "Created" it). I did not say transmute, which is another matter entirely.

    Likewise, fine synthetic diamonds are also a reality now, but nothing has been transmuted. Instead, carbon has been made to take a desired form - but the Diamonds are still carbon. Heat these diamonds - or any diamonds - to their melting point and then let them cool, then all you have left is charcoal. Do the same with gold, and after the liquid gold has cooled, you still have gold. As Martha Stewart might say, "It's a good thing".

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