Why is Latinum pressed in Gold? Which is worth more?

Is it because Latinum is softer than Gold (just a guess)?

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    Related, not dupe - scifi.stackexchange.com/questions/99341/… – Valorum Dec 13 '16 at 7:12
  • @Valorum That was a good link. Not to get off on a tangent, but to avoid asking a closely related question, given that gold is worthless and can be replicated then why did the Ferangies try to rob Fort Knox for the gold (according to Tom Paris)? – Hack-R Dec 14 '16 at 6:52
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    Because of canon inconsistencies. – Valorum Dec 14 '16 at 6:59
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    @Valorum Fair enough. I was thinking that perhaps it was just because maybe gold is relatively worthless -- let's say the same as silver is to gold -- but for a solid-at-room-temp metal maybe it's still pretty precious. While it can be replicated maybe that's like de-salinating water in that it's impractical except under special circumstances where you really need the gold and have an abundance of energy (like with oil-rich, water-poor middle eastern nations, which turn salt water into fresh water with oil-driven processes). – Hack-R Dec 15 '16 at 5:14

Latinum is a liquid at normal temperature and pressure. It's pressed into gold so that it can be weighed, measured, carried, handled, etc. Chemically speaking, gold is one of the least reactive metals -- it does not readily rust, corrode, dissolve, or interact with its environment. This makes it a particularly good choice as a "bonding agent" for latinum.

As far as it's worth, in a society with replicator technology, gold is effectively worthless as currency. You can create as much as you want at will. Latinum, since it cannot be reproduced in a replicator, is basically the only thing in the galaxy that has any real material "value" at all.

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    This is not a part of the official question but I have to wonder if some things are not practical to replicate because the energy/resources required outweigh their value – Hack-R Dec 13 '16 at 2:09
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    well, they still "build" ships instead of just replicating them in place, so presumably the answer is yes. – KutuluMike Dec 13 '16 at 2:11
  • @KutuluMike - imagine the size of the replicator you'd need to do a whole ship. And the power supply... – Tim Dec 13 '16 at 2:54
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    @KutuluMike I believe they replicate parts of the ship before assembly, at least I'm pretty sure that's how the build the Delta Flyer, so likely it's done elsewhere too. – user11521 Dec 13 '16 at 5:30
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    @Michael Well, if we had the technology to make matter out of thin air (and not just reconfigure existing matter - Star Trek replicators seem to be capable of both), we would use it very rarely indeed. The energy cost would be entirely unfeasible for a planetary economy - even deconstructing the whole planet atom by atom would be cheaper. You'd only use it for tiny, expensive stuff (say, anti-matter, or tiny chips), or where energy is cheap while other materials aren't (e.g. self-replicating orbital solar arrays), or where logistics are unfeasible (spaceship spare parts far from a home base). – Luaan Dec 13 '16 at 9:36

Latinum is worth more than Gold by the time of DS9. It is one of the few substances which cannot be replicated, making it a limited resource, and giving it value. Gold, by contrast, is considered "worthless" by some species, since it is easily replicated and has no practical use beyond decoration.

Its natural state is as a liquid. It is usually suspended in gold for ease of handling. Solid latinum is available, although it is presumably bound with some other substance to achieve this state.

Some further information on its relative value can be found at Memory Alpha.

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    No practical use? Interesting. I've not been following it, but I'd assume that it'd be useful for all the reasons it is today - low reactivity, high conductivity make it good for corrosion plating and electronics. – Sobrique Dec 13 '16 at 9:16
  • @Sobrique: I would imagine that for these purposes it is replicated in place, also maybe they are not necessary for the star trek isolinear technology as it works based on nanotechnology rather than conventional electronics. – PlasmaHH Dec 13 '16 at 10:28

Out-of-universe: likely because the longer phrase "gold pressed latinum" scans better in dialog than the shorter and simpler "latinum"... much like the way we will qualify gold with its purity such as "24 karat gold".

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