# Determing whether or not something is truly gold?

Archimedes, a famous Greek scientist, was given a problem by King Hieron II of Syracuse (Sicily). The kind suspected that his crown, which was supposed to be made of pure gold, contained some silver alloy, and he asked Archimedes to prove or disprove his suspicion. (It turned out that the crown did contain silver.) How would you have experimentally determined whether or not the crown was pure gold?

 rudi_in Posts: 252, Reputation: 224 Full Member #2 Sep 7, 2006, 06:46 PM
Thank you for posting your question to the Ask Me Help Desk.

Here is my hint to you for this problem.

What is the name of the chapter or topic that you are currently discussing?

Give me your hypothesis and I can let you know if you are going in the right direction.
 glamorousbride Posts: 8, Reputation: 1 New Member #3 Sep 7, 2006, 06:51 PM
I am in college. I am an elementary education major/english major, and accidently signed up for the wrong science class and it's too late to switch.

This is just part of a lab report that is to introduce the different measuring equiptment found in the lab.

The text I am using is [Physics, Laboratory Experiments]

My answer is: To determine if the crown is gold, I would have found it’s mass and volume and used that to find its density. I would compare my experimental density value with the accepted standard density of gold.
 rudi_in Posts: 252, Reputation: 224 Full Member #4 Sep 7, 2006, 06:53 PM
Bingo.

A crown with silver in it would not have a density equal to 19.3 g/cm^3
 dmatos Posts: 204, Reputation: 129 Full Member #5 Sep 7, 2006, 06:55 PM
Assuming that the crown must not be destroyed, and I had a reliable source of pure gold, I would compare the densities of the crown and the "known" gold. Use water displacement to find the volume of the crown, obtain an equal volume of pure gold, and weigh the two on an accurate balance scale.

Hmm. This appears to be very close to what Archimedes himself did:

http://math.nyu.edu/~crorres/Archime...Vitruvius.html

Nowadays, I'd just huck the thing under an SEM, and perform some EDX analysis on it. Electron Dispersive X-ray measures the wavelength of the photons emitted from excited particles. These wavelengths are directly related to energy levels, which are unique for each atom, thanks to quantum mechanics.

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