Currency

Why Gold?

Sanat Kumar
David Kestenbaum/NPR

Out of all the elements on earth, why does gold hold such a privileged place in human history? Is it just a fluke, or is there something more fundamental going on?

On today's Planet Money, we try to find out.

Our guide is Sanat Kumar, professor of chemical engineering at Columbia University. Our text is the periodic table of the elements. Kumar leads us through a game of periodic-table bingo, crossing off everything that couldn't really take the place of gold.

Our interest isn't purely academic; for our latest investment journalism project, the Planet Money team bought gold.

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