The uses of gold if it was gravel?

I have always wondered what mankind would do with gold if it was a common element. I would think it would be used for tools like nails and screws.

What is everyone’s opinion on the subject?


Gold doesn’t oxidize and is extremely malleable. It is already used for electrical contacts and would probably be used as wire if it was cheaper than copper.

It’s too soft to be used for nails, but it could be used for dead-blow hammers.

We could use it for anchors, since gold is much heavier than lead. Lead is used simply because it is a common metal and therefore costs a lot less.

Gold can be used as plating.

I don’t think it can be used as anchors because it doesn’t have the strength.

It could be used in place of lead as a roofing and plumbing material.

I seem to remember from my materials class that gold makes an excellent radiation shield, you can get the same effectiveness as lead with much less material. Weight isn’t usually much of a factor for things like that, but the Apollo astronauts (and possibly other missions as well) used a very thin gold coating on their helmet visor.

Really, any practical application where lead has been used as a metal (barring those where it is expected to react chemically), gold would probably be a better choice, if it were available.

Bullets, fishing weights, ballast etc.

Better yet, gold could replace depleted uranium wherever it is used as well.

Lead has a density of 11.3 tonnes per cubic meter, Uranium 19.1 tonnes per cubic metre, and gold 19.3 tonnes per cubic metre.

So those counterweights in aircraft, those armor-piercing shells, they’d all get made of gold.

Gold foil would be great for wrapping up sandwiches.

ps Aluminium was once more expensive than gold.

How so, seeing that uranium has a greater atomic mass than gold?

Maybe something to do with packing at the atomic level?

Density is not a linear function of atomic mass.

The densest elements are Osmium and Iridium (elements 76 and 77), with densities around 22.5 tonnes per cubic metre. There is some disagreement about which is actually the most dense, and what the actual densities are.

I suggest that you look at a periodic table sorted by density, such as this one.

Then, look at a graph (about half way down the page) of atomic number vs density.

I should have said “Density is not a monotonically increasing function of atomic mass.”