The most precious metal
   Gold is a rare metal with a lovely glowing colour. It is easy to shape,
and it is not affected by air or by water. Because gold is so soft, it can
 be beaten into very thin sheets and it can also be drawn out into very fine wire. Gold is therefore an excellent material for making beautiful objects, such as bowls, necklaces and rings.  Over 5,000 years ago, the ancient Egyptians prized gold so much that they believed that all gold belonged to their kings, the Pharaohs. In fact, luckily for us, they buried many precious gold objects in their Pharaohs’ tombs, and we can see many of them in museums today. The Egyptians were so skilful that they could beat gold into sheets so thin that a pile of 35,700 would be only 2.5cm high. Such sheets are called gold leaf.
   Gold leaf is still used today to decorate, for example objects made
of wood or leather. The gold used to make jewellery is usually mixed with other metals. This not only makes the articles cheaper, but also harder. The purity of gold is measured in carats (also spelled karats). A carat is one twenty- fourth part by mass. So pure gold is 24 carat. 21-carat gold would be half gold and half of some other metal.   Because it was scarce and therefore valuable, gold was formerly used as money all over the world. Nowadays, we use pieces of paper instead, but many countries still keep bars of gold in their banks. They can change this gold into money by selling it to other countries. About two thirds of all the gold in the world is kept in this way.  Gold is found in many parts of the world, usually buried deep underground. It can also be found in rivers. The sea too contains gold, but it would cost far more money to extract the gold from the sea than the gold is worth.  In modern times, many practical uses for gold have been found, for example, in electrical switches, in dentistry, and for thinly coating the windscreens of aircraft and spacecraft to prevent the glare of the sun.
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