Author Topic: Ok, so there's all this talk about the rarity of gold in the universe....  (Read 2939 times)

Offline MrMxyzptlk

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They say it's because it's "one of the heaviest elements that was forged in the violent collisions of neutron stars, the densest of all stars." (From a news report, and pretty much the same line I've heard many times the past few weeks when reading recent articles about the rarity of gold.  One of the astro-science TeeVee shows recently claimed that: "all the gold in the universe would fill three Olympic pools.")

"Sure," I think to myself, "It is the heaviest of all the naturally-occurring/stable ones we know of, right?"  (That would make it pretty rare, then, right?)

"Wrong!!" my left-brain screams.

What about Mercury through Radium??? (And let's not forget the Actiniod Series, too!)

They're ALL heavier (AU-wise) than Gold, right?

Anyone here have the answer to if Mercury-Radium elements are rarer than gold on earth, or why they're not as rare/precious? (If that's so, or not....)

(My astrophysicist friend is away on vacation, you see, so I'm asking here.  :winkgrin: )

I certainly HOPE that Radium is rarer than Gold!  :doh:  ::)

For reference, here's a handy Periodic Table of the Elements.
« Last Edit: July 18, 2013, 10:42:01 AM by MrMxyzptlk »
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Offline jim360

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It might be related to stability issues/ quantum effects, because these don't lead to a smooth curve as mass increases but introduce some "jaggedness" to the binding energy of an atomic nucleus, but I don't see that gold should stand out. Then again, the mechanics of heavy nuclei is very poorly understood so...

Gold is very rare, but as far as I can see it's no more rare than several other elements, including several lighter ones! The data I am using might be out-of-date though (source: a 1996 book called "Alchemy of the Heavens", by Ken Croswell).
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Offline BFM_Crimson

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I, personally, have seen more gold than mercury and radium.
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