From planes and trains to the cellphone in your hand and the versatile roll of foil in your pantry, aluminum is omnipresent in today’s fabricated world. Which should come as no surprise, considering it is the most abundant metal in Earth’s crust. Yet, it is hard to imagine that aluminum was once prized more than gold! In fact, despite its abundance, aluminum was valued so highly in the 19th century because it was so difficult to obtain. It was so special, indeed, that in 1884 this rare “metal of kings” earned a prestigious perch atop the Washington monument in the shape of a cast pyramid.