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January 1st, 2010

Gold, silver, and platinum

I'm not an expert in the industrial uses of things, but it occurred to me last night that the only industrial use of gold (that I know of) is as a conductor. The rest of its value seems to lie in humans' tendency to fight over shiny objects. Well, that combined with its rarity.

And I got to thinking, are there industrial uses for silver and platinum? Or are these three metals basically expensive decorations, their only worth coming from the "ooh, shiny!" reaction?

Regardless of current uses, it seems to me that the technology of the Mindeodean universe, in the time most of the stories take place (7000 years in the future), there probably won't be any industrial uses for these metals at all, given the technological level of the majority of the planets in that universe.

This in mind, I decided to make gold, silver, and platinum part of the official Mindeodean Empire currency. But with a difference. First of all, all legal tender in the Mindeodean Empire (Mindeodean and Mindeodean colonies, at least) is gold-backed. Even the numbers in the computers that - in our modern economy - are imaginary, even those are backed by one of those three metals. And the official money is in coin form. I don't know what the bulk of the coins will be made of yet, but I've decided there will be a trace amount of gold in each coin. I was thinking, with their technology, that they could put truly microscopic amounts in the coins, in an intricate nanoscale design that is hard to counterfeit. I've also decided that only the Mindeodean government is allowed to be able to put gold, silver, or platinum into the fabrication machines, also to cut down on counterfeiting. And the coins might be made of a variety of materials in intricate patterns. In a world full of fabbers, one has to take steps to make counterfeiting as difficult as possible. If anyone has any other ideas for how to make counterfeiting difficult in that universe, please let me know. Because those fabbers can make basically anything they have the molecular pattern or design of. They're almost like the replicators of Star Trek.

What do you guys think of the idea of banning gold ownership, in that world? If yes, how far should I take it? Should I have them ban all gold, or just gold that isn't in jewelry/timepiece form? Or something else?

Or maybe the whole idea is doomed to failure? Maybe they should have some other economic system? But so far, this system makes the most sense to me.

~ ~ ~

LOL! First post of the new year!

EDIT: christinathena convinced me that the best system of money would be for everyone to make their coins to the same standard. It works because they have sensors that can quickly assess the weight, composition, and purity of the coins. This way, people can fab their own coins! Only official Mindeodean governmental coins (and possibly other government coins) would need to be counterfeit protected. And I think that the first two of the following three ideas I had seem best for those anti-counterfeit protections:

1. Whatever the base metal of the coin, the inside would have a secret design made in another subtance (or more than one).

2. The coins would have a faint radioactive signature, just enough to identify them and be safe even in large numbers. Any ideas on radioactive elements that could fit these standards, and also have a halflife of maybe 500,000 years or so?

3. Some kind of computer chip (or its future equivalent) embedded in official Mindeodean currency with an official (and possibly encrypted) digital seal inside it?


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