• Question: What is artificial gold a mixture of?

    Asked by tkhan to Aggelos, Andrew, Eileen, Naomi, Shane on 19 Nov 2012.
    • Photo: Shane Bergin

      Shane Bergin answered on 19 Nov 2012:

      ‘fools gold’ is actually called pyrite (or iron sulfide FeS2). It has a shiny appearance that looks like gold.. it has fooled many people – google it and you can read some of the stories

    • Photo: Eileen Diskin

      Eileen Diskin answered on 20 Nov 2012:

      The one Shane mentions is a natural one, a rock that you can find in nature.

      But for a very lonnnnnnnng time people have been trying to come up with ways of making artificial gold. In medieval times, a lot of people practiced a science called ‘alchemy’. Alchemy is basically old school chemistry – their goal was to transform more common, cheaper metals into gold.

      And actually…it wasn’t always other metals they were mixing. At one point, in the 1600s and 1700s (so like, over 400 years ago!) there were a few guys that were trying to make gold out of pee!!!!!!

      Of course, they didn’t. But it did lead to some good outcomes…for example, urea was discovered by one of the guys trying to make gold out of pee in the mid-1700s, through whatever process he was using (though I’m not sure I want to think too much about boiling pee or anything like that…!).

      And thats a great discovery, because urea is now commonly used in medications, as well as in agriculture, and in some cars (those with diesel engines).

    • Photo: Andrew Jackson

      Andrew Jackson answered on 21 Nov 2012:

      shane is absolutely right.. and just to point out… FeS2 means that its a molecule containing one iron atom coupled together with two sulphur atoms, so really quite a simple molecule.