What If Everything Around Us Turned Into Gold
You just wanted to heat up a slice of leftover pizza! But something went terribly wrong. As soon as you touched the device, you felt a jolt — as if something had pushed you. You saw sparks, heard something blow up... Then darkness. Owww...
It feels as if your head is going to implode. What’s hap?... OH! The microwave! You got an electric shock! Good thing you’re alive and more or less Ok. Even better — there’s no fire raging in your apartment.
Moaning, you get up. Your hands shaking, you pick up a glass to pour yourself some water. But the next moment, you drop it to the floor. The thing is much heavier than you expected! But that’s not all: now, it’s also yellowish and not transparent! After examining it, you have to admit that the substance looks pretty much like... gold?
You laugh at yourself. And then take your new glass to a jewelry appraiser. You’re absolutely dazed after leaving their office. Your glass is INDEED made up of the purest gold ever! The fact that the appraiser told you that the gold was a bit strange slips your mind. You’ve got more urgent mysteries to solve. Like, how on Earth did this glass become golden?
It must have happened at the moment you touched it! But after that, you held on to handrails, doorknobs, and whatnot! You even shook the appraiser’s hand! You come home and get down to work. You touch your sofa, bed, pillows, cups, plates, and silverware. And suddenly a spoon in your hands becomes gold! Your ability DOES work but not always!
Even so, you’re gonna be rich! Because, you know, gold! This metal is extremely valuable. It doesn’t corrode, is easy to smelt, and is rare enough for people to appreciate it. You start thinking of all your dreams that will finally come true! You can go on vacation to some exotic islands and buy the house of your dreams!
Little did you know at that time what a terrible disaster your newly acquired ability would cause! Time passes, and you notice you turn things into gold more and more often. Soon it happens every third time you touch something. And the day comes when every single thing you pick up immediately becomes gold.
After cheering for a good 5 minutes, you realize it’s actually not that great. How are you going to cook? Sleep? Take your dog for a walk? With growing horror, you understand your ability might end up being a curse! Similar to the one King Midas had!
There’s a myth about a monarch who was living his comfortable and rich life in a huge castle. But it was never enough for the man. He was way more ambitious than that. He wanted everything he touched to turn into gold. (It definitely rings a bell.) But when his wish was granted, the king found out it was the most horrible thing that had ever happened to him.
You shudder and decide to think about something that doesn’t make you so stressed. Like, how is the stuff you do even possible from a scientific point of view? Do you simply change the atoms of whatever you choose to touch? Let’s say, it’s a remote control. Then, as soon as you pick it and make it golden, it’ll immediately become many times denser and heavier.
The gold atoms won’t appreciate the way they’re squeezed together. They will start to push back against each other. BOOM! And the remote control would explode with enormous force. But it doesn’t happen. This means your ability works in a different way.
For example, what if you don’t change the atoms but simply rearrange them? This would explain why the appraiser was so surprised and called your gold glass “strange.” This gold is kinda foamy, with loads of tiny gaps inside. Suddenly, it dawns on you, and you feel even more horrified than before.
You must be very, very careful now! What if you lean down to touch your dog? What if you accidentally hug your brother or touch your friend’s hand?! After panicking for an hour or so, you remember a good friend of yours is a scientist! Time to visit her.
After overcoming her initial shock, your friend jumps into action. Soon, you’ve got a solution — a pair of gloves made of special material. You have to wear these gloves at all times. Your friend goes into detail, trying to explain how the gloves will protect the world from you. But it sounds extremely scientific.
You lose track of her explanation and stop listening after half a minute. Your life is both easier and more difficult now. You don’t have to control yourself around other people. But at the same time, you have to learn to take a shower, eat, play volleyball, and pet your dog — all while wearing your gloves.
Luckily, it doesn’t take much time for you to get used to your new style. But then, on a sunny day, everything spirals out of control. You’re outside, in the park. Your dog seems to have got the zoomies and is sprinting around in circles. That’s when your left hand starts itching inside the glove. “Ah, nothing bad will happen if I...” And you pull off the glove.
Your dog chooses this moment to crash into your legs. You lose your footing and start falling forward. You see everything happening around you as if in slow-mo. One second — and your gloveless hand touches the ground. Another second — and golden-colored waves start spreading away from you. They’re turning everything you can see into gold!
And then, you’re suddenly floating in the air! What’s going on? Remember that very first glass you turned into gold? It didn’t change its shape or size because it wasn’t large enough. But for the entire planet, this is a big deal. The gold you create is spongy. But you can’t have a spongy Earth — its gravity won’t let you! It starts to squeeze the planet — and succeeds.
The not-so-microscopic gaps between the atoms making up our beautiful once-blue globe disappear. And Earth starts to shrink at breakneck speed. In no time, its radius gets one-third smaller than before. But back to your current situation. You’ve never been stuck in a falling elevator, but you think this is what it must feel like. You’ve got the impression that someone suddenly pulled the lever responsible for Earth’s gravity and switched it off!
At first, you’re terrified. What if when this whole falling situation comes to a stop, you’ll hit the ground with enormous force?! But it hasn’t happened yet, and you relax a bit. The thing is that instead of moving away or coming closer, the ground seems to be falling together with you.
From your vantage point, you see water floating in the air. It can’t be the oceans or seas — they turned into gold at the same moment the ground did. Meanwhile, the water in the air starts to form droplets. And you realize that’s all that liquid that was in the atmosphere before “The Accident.” That’s what you decided to call the catastrophe you had caused.
The only other living beings you spot are birds. They must have been in the air when the change occurred. Some time later, you feel a sting. A mosquito! That’s how you find out that besides birds, there are also flying bugs.
In about ten minutes, the planet stops shrinking. It’s probably reached the size it needs. If this strange world worked as it should, you would have crashed to the ground at a speed of almost 20,000 mph (≈30,000 kph)! But for some mysterious reason, it doesn’t happen. “Phew! I’m still alive, so it can’t be so bad!” you think.
But then almost immediately, another thought makes you change your opinion. On the planet turned into gold, where are you going to find food and drinking water? What will happen to the atmosphere without trees and algae that produce oxygen? But it’s just the beginning. The planet gets suddenly squeezed with enormous force! That’s why the temperatures in its core will soon become as high as they are in the core of a star!
Also, when the planet finishes collapsing in on itself, a powerful shockwave will catapult its atmosphere up into space! In the end, the red-hot ball of plasma that our planet will eventually turn into will cool down. Earth will turn into a shiny ball of gold hanging somewhere out there between Mars and Venus. You’ll figure it out in no time. But right now, you are standing in the middle of a vast gold plain. In your head, there are only questions and not a single answer.