Gold is a chemical element with the symbol Au (from Latin: aurum) and atomic number 79, making it one of the higher atomic number elements that occur naturally.
It is a bright, slightly orange-yellow, dense, soft, malleable, and ductile metal in a pure form.
Chemically, gold is a transition metal and a group 11 element. It is one of the least reactive chemical elements and is solid under standard conditions.
Gold often occurs in free elemental (native) form, as nuggets or grains, in rocks, veins, and alluvial deposits. It occurs in a solid solution series with the native element silver (as electrum), naturally alloyed with other metals like copper and palladium, and mineral inclusions such as within pyrite.
Less commonly, it occurs in minerals as gold compounds, often with tellurium (gold tellurides).
A relatively rare element, gold is a precious metal that has been used for coinage, jewelry, and other arts throughout recorded history.
As of 2017, the world’s largest gold producer by far was China, with 440 tonnes per year.
A total of around 201,296 tonnes of gold exists above ground, as of 2020. This is equal to a cube with each side measuring roughly 21.7 meters (71 ft).
Gold’s high malleability, ductility, resistance to corrosion and most other chemical reactions, and conductivity of electricity have led to its continued use in corrosion-resistant electrical connectors in all types of computerized devices (its chief industrial use).
The world consumption of new gold produced is about 50% in jewelry, 40% in investments and 10% in industry.
Gold is also used in infrared shielding, colored-glass production, gold leafing, and tooth restoration. Certain gold salts are still used as anti-inflammatories in medicine.
F I A T
Fiat money (from Latin: fiat, “let it be done”) is a type of money that is not backed by any commodity such as gold or silver, and typically declared by a decree from the government to be legal tender.
Throughout history, fiat money was sometimes issued by local banks and other institutions. In modern times, fiat money is generally established by government regulation.
Fiat money does not have intrinsic value and does not have use value. It has value only because the people who use it as a medium of exchange agree on its value. They trust that it will be accepted by merchants and other people.
Fiat money is an alternative to commodity money, which is a currency that has intrinsic value because it contains a precious metal such as gold or silver which is embedded in the coin.
Fiat also differs from representative money, which is money that has intrinsic value because it is backed by and can be converted into a precious metal or another commodity.
Fiat money can look similar to representative money (such as paper bills), but the former has no backing, while the latter represents a claim on a commodity (which can be redeemed to a greater or lesser extent).
Fiat money started to predominate during the 20th century.
Fiat money can be:
- Any money that is not backed by a commodity.
- Money declared by a person, institution or government to be legal tender, meaning that it must be accepted in payment of a debt in specific circumstances.
- State-issued money which is neither convertible through a central bank to anything else nor fixed in value in terms of any objective standard.
- Money used because of government decree.
- An otherwise non-valuable object that serves as a medium of exchange (also known as fiduciary money.)
The most common, and best, ways to think about bitcoin is as “digital gold”.
Like gold, bitcoin doesn’t rely on a central issuer, can’t have its supply manipulated by any authority, and has fundamental properties long considered important for a monetary good and store of value.
Unlike gold, bitcoin is extremely easy and cheap to “transport”, and trivial to verify its authenticity.
Bitcoin is also “programmable”. This means custody of bitcoin can be extremely flexible. It can be split amongst a set of people (“key holders”), backed up and encrypted, or even frozen-in-place until a certain date in the future. This is all done without a central authority managing the process.
You can walk across a national border with bitcoin “stored” in your head by memorizing a key.
The similarities to gold, plus the unique features possible because bitcoin is purely digital, give it the “digital gold” moniker.
Sharing fundamental properties with gold means it shares use-cases with gold, such as hedging inflation and political uncertainty.
But being digital, bitcoin adds capabilities that are especially relevant in our modern electronic times.
The world does indeed need a digital version of gold.
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