Why are people obsessed with gold?

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RAPTORATTACK!!!
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Why are people obsessed with gold?

http://www.wildwestelectronics.net/g-oval-10-10.html

And if you were to actually look at wikipedia, the resistivity for gold is- 22.14 ohms. For silver, 15.87 ohms. copper is 16.78 ohms, which would be even better than gold.

And, most amusing, the bullion desk says that while gold is around 900 per oz, silver is just about 17. Why? Does this have any actual scientific backing or is it just taking advantage of misinformation and lack of knowledge?

The reason I've put this in the Science forum is because I have a feeling it's not just conductivity and there are other nefarious forces at work here. Mods feel free to move it like my last thread.

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masher
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Re: Why are people obsessed with gold?

It's GOLD!

GOLD, I say!

It's expensive, it's shiny, it MUST work better.

GOLD is soooo expensive, it only conducts the good sound waves!

Klotz
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Re: Why are people obsessed with gold?

You mean ohm-metres, right?

Anywho, cold is pretty and rare, which makes it good for commerce. It's also extremely malleable and ductile, meaning you can make cool stuff with it. It also has very high density; about 50% heavier than lead. I have a feeling that it's less reactive than silver as well. I'm sure there are a few other reasons too.

was_fired
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Re: Why are people obsessed with gold?

Gold doesn't really rust or corrode unlike most other conductive metals either so it stays conductive even after long periods of neglect. That's another plus.
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masher
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Re: Why are people obsessed with gold?

was_fired wrote:Gold doesn't really rust or corrode unlike most other conductive metals either so it stays conductive even after long periods of neglect. That's another plus.

$8000 will buy more Cu speaker wires to replace the corroded ones that I wouldn't have needed if I bought the Au ones. That doesn't make sense... I couldn't spend$8k on replacement Cu wires; they wouldn't degrade fast enough.

was_fired
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Re: Why are people obsessed with gold?

I don't know enough about speakers to know if the gold connectors are worth it. I was mostly thinking of something I heard about nuclear missiles using gold connectors for the electronics since the engineers wanted to make sure that they wouldn't degrade over time. Now, I could very well be wrong, and as such I would appreciate some fact checking on my statement.
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masher
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Re: Why are people obsessed with gold?

I would accept the use of gold connectors with any related to nuclear.

I have an issue with "audiophiles" that believe they can hear the difference between gold and copper wires.

@OP you may want to edit your title to actually mention the audio thing...

watch_wait_plot
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Re: Why are people obsessed with gold?

I was mostly thinking of something I heard about nuclear missiles using gold connectors for the electronics since the engineers wanted to make sure that they wouldn't degrade over time.

It may or it may not be true. However it may be worth noting that the warheads themselves degrade (more correctly decay) over time...not all that much time really.

Charlie!
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Re: Why are people obsessed with gold?

It's available (rarely) in pure form, and doesn't require advanced technology (iron age technology) to be worked.

This supports (to me) the idea that gold has historically always been important, and because of its rarity and unique color, historically would be more strongly associated with the upper class than, say, copper. Then, after being used for jewelery and luxury goods, its value was even more emphasized as it was used as currency.

So I'd guess we're really, really used to the idea that gold is desirable. And, as a more direct explaination for those cables, some people are stupid.
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was_fired
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Re: Why are people obsessed with gold?

Well, whatever the case may be I have double checked and confirmed that gold was used in the creation of nuclear weapons. I don't know what part it played, but given the fact they the government went out of their way to recycle it. I would assume it was employed in nontrivial quantities. Since I don't know anything it would be used for besides electronics I'm forced to guess that was it, and the only reason I can think of for using it would be the fact it doesn't rust, isn't magnetic and react with much. Of course copper is also nonmagnetic, but it does corrode faster than gold as far as I'm aware. Any other ideas?
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hobbesmaster
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Re: Why are people obsessed with gold?

Gold plated connectors aren't a bad idea because the connection won't degrade over time. Beyond that...

(can we make this about idiotic audiophile/videophile products? if so, I've got one. I'm also a big fan of CD demagnetizers, cable burn in, people seeing improvements on digital signals based on cable quality, complete disregard of Nyquist's theorem... I could go on. That stuff is hilarious though, and it seems like there might be money in it...)

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Re: Why are people obsessed with gold?

...suffer from the computer disease that anybody who works with computers now knows about. It's a very serious disease and it interferes completely with the work. The trouble with computers is you play with them. They are so wonderful. - Richard Feynman

Poochy
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Re: Why are people obsessed with gold?

Chemically, gold is a noble metal - it tends to be inactive and resistant to reactions, so it takes a REALLY long time to corrode or otherwise wear out. It's also quite malleable, which makes it easy to work with in very small scales, and with electronics getting increasingly compact, well, you do the math. If you add in the requirements of being a halfway decent conductor of electricity and being a solid at room temperature, gold happens to have a good balance between these qualities and rarity (and in turn cost). If I'm not mistaken, platinum is actually even better, but it's prohibitively expensive.

Malleability can be a considerable factor - while silver and copper have lower resistance, that fails to outweigh the problem that you'll have a harder time trying to make the wire thin. So you end up with a considerably larger cross-sectional area of the wire, and keep in mind that resistivity of the wire is directly proportional to its cross-sectional area.

Now, it might not be worth it for a cheap and simple cable connector, but I can see why it might be worth it to use gold in some internal components. Even if it's a relatively inexpensive part, it can save you quite a bit of trouble of taking stuff apart to replace a worn-out component.

Though I'm highly skeptical of the audio performance claims.
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Seraph
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Re: Why are people obsessed with gold?

keep in mind that resistivity of the wire is directly proportional to its cross-sectional area.

Resistivity is totally independent of cross-sectional area.

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Re: Why are people obsessed with gold?

The super-cable-amazing-audio-quality-wow thing is an old scam/joke in the music world. It's really just a device to part fools from money, on the level of dodgy debt refinancing and televangelism. I've always assumed it plays on those who want to spend the most money on their audio systems regardless of the outcome, as money=quality, as opposed to those for whom any increase in quality is worth any money. Spending is the end, not the means to better sound.
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RAPTORATTACK!!!
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Re: Why are people obsessed with gold?

That's impressive then... people really don't remember high school I guess. Including my dad, buying gold plated usb cords, much to my chagrin. Here's another example!

hee hee.

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DubioserKerl
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Re: Why are people obsessed with gold?

Seraph wrote:
keep in mind that resistivity of the wire is directly proportional to its cross-sectional area.

Resistivity is totally independent of cross-sectional area.

Now... WHAT?

What I remember from my Physics classes is the following (actually, I copied it from Wikipedia, but it is what I learned, though):

The electrical resistivity ρ (rho) of a material is given by

\rho=\frac{RA}{\ell}

where

ρ is the static resistivity (measured in ohm metres, Ω-m);
R is the electrical resistance of a uniform specimen of the material (measured in ohms, Ω);
\ell is the length of the piece of material (measured in metres, m);
A is the cross-sectional area of the specimen (measured in square metres, m²).

So, it is not independent!

DK

hobbesmaster
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Re: Why are people obsessed with gold?

DubioserKerl wrote:
Seraph wrote:
keep in mind that resistivity of the wire is directly proportional to its cross-sectional area.

Resistivity is totally independent of cross-sectional area.

Now... WHAT?

What I remember from my Physics classes is the following (actually, I copied it from Wikipedia, but it is what I learned, though):

The electrical resistivity ρ (rho) of a material is given by

\rho=\frac{RA}{\ell}

where

ρ is the static resistivity (measured in ohm metres, Ω-m);
R is the electrical resistance of a uniform specimen of the material (measured in ohms, Ω);
\ell is the length of the piece of material (measured in metres, m);
A is the cross-sectional area of the specimen (measured in square metres, m²).

So, it is not independent!

DK

That gets kinda confusing (ie, self referential) when you then defined resistance as:
R = \frac{\ell\rho}{A}

Resistivity is a materials property, so the resistivity is going to be the same regardless of the chunk of the material you have.
Last edited by hobbesmaster on Mon Jun 23, 2008 6:30 pm UTC, edited 2 times in total.

ave_matthew
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Re: Why are people obsessed with gold?

I think they meant that the static resistivity is independent of the cross section.
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Re: Why are people obsessed with gold?

hobbesmaster wrote:Resistivity is a materials property

Yes, this. Resistivity is an intensive property, resistance is extensive:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Intensive_ ... properties

Izawwlgood
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Re: Why are people obsessed with gold?

Does anyone know a good method for extracting gold from circuit boards/electronics? I was thinking something like a mercury soak or baking it.
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Re: Why are people obsessed with gold?

Gold - it's shiny, pretty, and stays that way. It's a darn good conductor, it doesn't react with much, and it's obscenely malleable. Sounds like gold's almost as awesome as 4n.
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Re: Why are people obsessed with gold?

Izawwlgood wrote:Does anyone know a good method for extracting gold from circuit boards/electronics? I was thinking something like a mercury soak or baking it.

Cyanide might work.

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Re: Why are people obsessed with gold?

Minerva wrote:The fact is, some people will try to sell just about anything, at any price, with any crazy claims about high fidelity audio performance. And people buy it!

Take gold plated connectors for superior conductivity... on a fibre optic cable, for example.

http://www.belt.demon.co.uk/product/redxpen/rxp.html

http://www.belt.demon.co.uk/product/qrfqc/qrfqc.html

http://www.altmann.haan.de/tubeolator/default.htm

https://www.virtualdynamics.ca/content. ... dary_id=43

https://www.virtualdynamics.ca/content. ... dary_id=56

http://www.musicdirect.com/product/73452

http://svalanderaudio.com/furutech/rd_2eng.php

http://www.hometheaterhifi.com/volume_1 ... -2005.html

http://www.elusivedisc.com/prodinfo.asp?number=AP-CDSL

http://www.musicdirect.com/product/73105

http://stereophile.com/cables/1206tara/

There's also the infamous \$500 wooden knob, which I couldn't find a link for.

Wow some of those are amazing.

This is possibly the best pseudo-science quote ever:
Some gibbering cretin wrote:We know from our experiments that within the space-time co-ordinates of x, y, z and t, the 'x' co-ordinate, given the correct circumstances, is formed when the senses of a human observer interact with an object. Unfortunately, most modern objects of new type materials will not allow the human senses of the 'observer' to effectively interact to form the vital 'x' of space-time co-ordinates.

EDIT: Aaagh, just saw this one though, from the same site!
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DubioserKerl
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Re: Why are people obsessed with gold?

That's almost as disturbing as the WiFi-cable that was sold on E-Bay...

Seraph
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Re: Why are people obsessed with gold?

DubioserKerl wrote:
Seraph wrote:
keep in mind that resistivity of the wire is directly proportional to its cross-sectional area.

Resistivity is totally independent of cross-sectional area.

Now... WHAT?

What I remember from my Physics classes is the following (actually, I copied it from Wikipedia, but it is what I learned, though):

The electrical resistivity ρ (rho) of a material is given by

\rho=\frac{RA}{\ell}

where

ρ is the static resistivity (measured in ohm metres, Ω-m);
R is the electrical resistance of a uniform specimen of the material (measured in ohms, Ω);
\ell is the length of the piece of material (measured in metres, m);
A is the cross-sectional area of the specimen (measured in square metres, m²).

So, it is not independent!

If you think that then you didn't understand what you were learning in physics.

The variables in your equation are R, A, and l. For a given matieral they can be related to a constant using the formula you gave. In other words ρ is the constant.

Lets say you have an object made of pure aluminum, and you measure R, A, and l to calculate the resistivity. If you then have another object made of pure aluminum that has twice the cross-sectional area, you'll then measure half the resistance, and end up with the same resistivity. This is because resistivity is an intensive material property, it has NOTHING to do with the shape of an object.

thoughtfully
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Re: Why are people obsessed with gold?

Izawwlgood wrote:Does anyone know a good method for extracting gold from circuit boards/electronics? I was thinking something like a mercury soak or baking it.

I would think you'd have a hard time breaking even there unless you really have tons and tons of old electronics. It'd be cheaper to just buy the gold straight-up. Not having to play around with extremely toxic substances and processes is just bonus. Aqua Regia got that name because it is one of the only acids that can dissolve gold. It is probably less hazardous than cyanide, but still isn't any fun.

Go figure, googling "gold recovery electronics" brought up several solutions. Somebody buying those products thinks the economics works out, so maybe it's worth a try.

Resistance to the flow of electricity is lower in thicker wires. See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/American_wire_gauge.

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DubioserKerl
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Re: Why are people obsessed with gold?

Oh, i thought we were talking about cables here. Wires. Objects with a variable thickness. And of course, thicker wires means less resistance.

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Re: Why are people obsessed with gold?

I think the confusion is just the similarity in the words 'resistivity' and 'resistance'.

Resistance: the resistance of a particular object. Changes with shape etc.

Resistivity: an innate property of a material. Along with a few other parameters, determines the resistance.

thoughtfully
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Re: Why are people obsessed with gold?

The gold is just a coating, anyway, and then just at the tip. Resistance really isn't relevant at all, so long that it's a reasonable conductor. It's there to prevent corrosion. It also has very little to do with the markup audiofools pay when they buy Monster Cables. That's called marketing and gratuitous margins. This thread is really about psychology, not electronics

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Re: Why are people obsessed with gold?

So what about CPU pins, where there is little chance of corrosion and marketing is based purely on performance?

thoughtfully
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Re: Why are people obsessed with gold?

I'm not sure how small the chance is or isn't, but its easy to justify a small marginal cost on such an expensive item, plus it just looks more professional. Also, a bazillion pins provide a lot of surface area for corrosion to get started on.

Perfection is achieved, not when there is nothing more to add, but when there is nothing left to take away.
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om617
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Re: Why are people obsessed with gold?

It's rarity made it an excellent currency standard in the past, giving it a value which has persisted to the present day. Only in the 20th century did international currencies no longer use gold as a standard. The current high price is due to demand, from a combination of industrial, (valued because it doesn't corrode or react as stated above) investment, (valued because it's value tends to not fluctuate with currency) and artistic (valued because it is shiny, and ironically, because it is valuable) markets.
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was_fired
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Re: Why are people obsessed with gold?

om617 wrote:It's rarity made it an excellent currency standard in the past, giving it a value which has persisted to the present day. Only in the 20th century did international currencies no longer use gold as a standard. The current high price is due to demand, from a combination of industrial, (valued because it doesn't corrode or react as stated above) investment, (valued because it's value tends to not fluctuate with currency) and artistic (valued because it is shiny, and ironically, because it is valuable) markets.

I just wanted to point out that gold was also subject to the forces or inflation and deflation just like any other form of currency. You need to remember that rarity doesn't guard against financial fluctuations, but it does guard against hyper-inflation and deflation in most cases. The old advantage to using precious metals in coins was that long distance trading was made viable because of it. Most coins used relatively similar levels of alloying so you could estimate a coins value by its weight alone (provided it didn't seem fake). This was a big help when you were trading using three or more types of currency back in ancient or medieval times. I know this is a bit off topic, but the entire idea of gold's value not fluctuating or gold somehow being a more stable currency irks me. I guess that just my economics major showing up.

Back to the discussion of the less dismal sciences. I find it a bit hard to believe that the gold coating on CPUs is unnecessary given how wide spread it is and the minimal cost associated with it to the consumer. The way I see it CPUs run fairly hot, are exposed to constant airflow, will fail if they stop being able to conduct ever over a tiny portion of their surface area, and have tons of surface area. All of these are factors that would make corrosion worse, and without overclocking most CPUs have a half life of around 8 years if memory serves so without it I have a feeling they would fare worse.
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Mabus_Zero
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Re: Why are people obsessed with gold?

was_fired wrote:I don't know enough about speakers to know if the gold connectors are worth it. I was mostly thinking of something I heard about nuclear missiles using gold connectors for the electronics since the engineers wanted to make sure that they wouldn't degrade over time. Now, I could very well be wrong, and as such I would appreciate some fact checking on my statement.

I seem to remember hearing that the material of a warhead decays to near uselessness in a decade. Is this true?

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om617
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Re: Why are people obsessed with gold?

Pu-239 has a half life of c. 24,000 years- the fissionable material isn't the issue. All weapons, including conventional ones, have a shelf-life, often based on corrosion of various components, and nuclear weapons that are non-functional due to corrosion or other issues can be brought back into working order without extreme difficulty.
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Goemon
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Re: Why are people obsessed with gold?

was_fired wrote:Well, whatever the case may be I have double checked and confirmed that gold was used in the creation of nuclear weapons. I don't know what part it played, but given the fact they the government went out of their way to recycle it. I would assume it was employed in nontrivial quantities. Since I don't know anything it would be used for besides electronics I'm forced to guess that was it, and the only reason I can think of for using it would be the fact it doesn't rust, isn't magnetic and react with much. Of course copper is also nonmagnetic, but it does corrode faster than gold as far as I'm aware. Any other ideas?

Gold foil is used on satellites and spacecraft to shield the sensitive electronic innards against radiation, right? Perhaps nuclear missiles are hardened against EMP or other interference using gold foil?

And as for using gold terminals on CPU pins - circuits with very tiny currents are particularly susceptible to resistance in the terminal contacts, so it's normal to use gold for anything that's always running a fraction of a milliamp or less. Higher currents burn off the corrosion.

Pretty pointless I think on speaker wires, unless you're planning to keep them for twenty years and douse them with salt water every day.

was_fired
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Re: Why are people obsessed with gold?

Goemon wrote:Gold foil is used on satellites and spacecraft to shield the sensitive electronic innards against radiation, right? Perhaps nuclear missiles are hardened against EMP or other interference using gold foil?

Of course, I can't believe I forgot about that. I think that's actually it, my bad.
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watch_wait_plot
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Re: Why are people obsessed with gold?

Of course, I can't believe I forgot about that. I think that's actually it, my bad.

Yes, that may very well be it.

Mabus_Zero wrote:I seem to remember hearing that the material of a warhead decays to near uselessness in a decade. Is this true?

om617 wrote:Pu-239 has a half life of c. 24,000 years- the fissionable material isn't the issue. All weapons, including conventional ones, have a shelf-life, often based on corrosion of various components, and nuclear weapons that are non-functional due to corrosion or other issues can be brought back into working order without extreme difficulty.

It takes much longer than a decade (probably more along the lines of a century or two), but keep in mind that a nuclear warhead needs farmore than half of it's fissionable materials in order to maintain its functionality. I imagine the gap is even more narrow for maintaining warhead yield. (Yes, that was conjecture. But it was logical conjecture. ) I'll look for some exact figures, on that.

HistidineTheCat
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Re: Why are people obsessed with gold?

Gold, along with platinum, is a fantastically useful metal chemically. This is in large part due to its stability (as mentioned above). It is also useful because it is fairly simple to plate small amounts of gold on surfaces (such as sensor chips), and it readily bonds with thiols. Surface plasmon resonance technology also makes use of gold's optical properties.

Relative to some other useful materials in chemistry, such as platinum, gold is actually quite cheap.