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At the end of the Deep Space Nine episode "Who Mourns for Morn?", Quark thinks he's found a hidden treasure, a vault filled with bars of gold-pressed latinum. But before he can gloat and revel in his victory, he notices something horrible: all the latinum is gone, leaving behind nothing but "worthless gold!" In a sudden fit of rage/frustration, Quark breaks some of the bars, and they shatter and crumble like dirt clods.

The problem is, real gold doesn't work that way. It's one of the most malleable substances known to man, if not the most. A big, thick bar of it would bend, not break, and certainly not crumble!

This leads one to suppose that the bars are something other than pure gold. Has there ever been a canonical explanation given for what makes de-latinumized bars of gold-pressed latinum have wildly different physical characteristics than gold?

  • "This leads one to suppose that the bars are something other than pure gold" Either that a prop for which the prop department asked themselves "Do we want our 'gold' to look like 'putty' on-screen? .." – Andrew Thompson Sep 12 '15 at 13:11
  • Please name the episode – ThePopMachine Sep 12 '15 at 13:54
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Here's a clip:

I think what may be going on is that the dust we see is some residue left behind from extracting the latinum from inside the hollow gold bricks, it wasn't created by Quark's breaking of the bricks with his hands but was already present inside them. As we see at the end of the episode, latinum is a liquid Mercury-like substance, so presumably it was originally filling the hollow gold bars. Quark says in the episode "I wonder who came up with the idea of suspending liquid latinum inside worthless bits of gold?", so perhaps the inside was a suspension mixing liquid latinum and gold dust (a 'suspension' typically refers to small particles suspended in a liquid, like sand in water), in which case removing the latinum could leave behind gold dust inside the bricks.

If the bricks' outer surface of solid gold was very thin--almost as thin as gold leaf, which tears easily--then it could be possible to break a brick in half with your hands, causing the dust inside to spill out. The only thing I'm not sure about is whether there's any thickness of gold that's thicker by enough from gold leaf to be able to maintain its shape as a hollow gold brick, but still thin enough to tear in half with one's hands. Even there isn't, I suppose you could imagine it's not really pure gold but rather some alloy of gold and some other element that hasn't been invented yet, like an alloy of gold and one of the transuranic elements in the hypothesized island of stability on the periodic table. ThePopMachine's suggestion that the end result may be a gold metal foam also seems like a plausible one, although only if understood as a description of the outer shell of the brick, since we can see pretty clearly in the clip that the bricks are hollow rather than solid but crumbly.

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I think there's too much assumption and supposition. I would just chalk it up to:

Option 1: Even though it looks like gold on the surface, so Quark calls it gold, it's not actually gold all the way through.

We don't need any more explanation than that.

If it's established that it was gold-pressed latinum and the latinum was removed:

Option 2: Presumably, after you remove the latinum, what's left is a gold metal foam

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    Get it, "chalk" – ThePopMachine Sep 12 '15 at 14:03
  • The bricks are hollow, they originally contained latinum inside (a mercury-like substance we see Morn spit out at the end of the episode, since he'd been keeping it in his second stomach)--they were "gold-pressed latinum", not regular gold bars. – Hypnosifl Sep 12 '15 at 14:26

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