Gold is Alien? Gold Can Treat Cancer? We All Contain Gold?
45 Amazing-ish Facts Guaranteed to Up Your Gold Trivia Knowledge to Super-Genius
In a world of alternative facts and fake news, we’ve checked and double-checked all 45 of these facts about gold – and every one’s a winner!
Apart from fact #45 we don’t promise you’ll make bank – but your mind will be all the richer for it…
#1: More steel is produced in 60 minutes than all the gold across all of human history
On average 1,700 million metric tonnes of steel are produced a year – or 195,000 MT/hour. At a density of 7.7g/cm3, one hour’s global steel production yields a cube with sides just over 96 feet (29m) long.
All gold production – ever – can barely manage a cube with sides 69 feet long (21m)
#2: Gold has been found on every continent on earth
Gold has literally been discovered on every single continent on earth – although mining is banned in Antarctica.
#3: Most of the gold ever discovered is still in use today
Gold’s high value ensures the metal is looked after carefully, with broken, damaged or outdated products containing gold being recycled for their metal content.
Despite this, it’s estimated 80% of the world’s gold is still buried deep within the ground.
#4: More than 75% of all mined gold has been extracted since 1910
Seventy-five percent of all gold currently in vaults and circulation has been mined and refined since 1910.
#5: Approx. 90% of the world’s gold stocks have been mined since the 1849 California gold rush
Prior to gold first being discovered at Sutter’s Mill in 1848 total global gold holdings were only 10% of what we now hold
#6: Gold is so pliable, a single ounce of gold can stretch to a 50 mile long thread
Gold can be turned into a pure gold sewing thread, as flexible as silk and has been used throughout history as an ornate decoration on regal gowns and robes.
If strength isn’t an issue an ounce of gold can be spun into a single thread 1250 miles long at a thickness of one micron.
#7: Just 1oz of gold can be beaten into a sheet measuring 100 square feet
Because gold is so malleable it can be beaten or rolled into very thin sheets – with a single ounce flattening out to cover 100sq ft. Gold can pressed with relative ease into sheets less than 0.1 microns thick – photocopy paper is 1000 times thicker!
When pressed thin enough, gold can become semi-transparent, with super-thin sheets taking on a green/blue hue because gold reflects red and yellow light.
#8: Gold is edible
Despite gold having zero nutritional value, it has a European Food Additive “E number” – E175.
The FDA however, does not list gold as a food additive.
#9: We are all made of gold
Amazingly the human body contains approximately 0.2mg gold, mostly within our blood.
It would take the blood of over 155,000 people for the US Mint to create a 1oz Gold Buffalo – a trick the IRS has not yet managed to perfect.
#10: Gold’s chemical symbol in the periodic table is Au
The symbol Au comes from the latin word aurum, “shining dawn” – also Aurora the Roman goddess of the dawn.
#11: Earthquakes turn water into solid gold
Australian scientists say earthquakes can cause gold to be formed near instantaneously when cracks in highly pressurized rocks open allowing gold held in a watery solution to solidify.
“[This process] may underpin the formation of up to 80 per cent of the world’s gold deposits.”
#12: Until recently gold was THE global currency
The gold standard has been replaced by a fiat (Latin for “let it be done”) standard. Where money in your pocket was once backed by gold in a vault, this is no longer the case.
This allows governments to print money whenever they need it without a requirement to back it with anything other than a promise.
#13: Non-gold currencies will always fail – eventually
According to a study of 775 fiat currencies, there has never been a historical precedence where a fiat currency has succeeded in holding its value over any timescale greater than 5 years.
The study lists 609 currencies that have failed or no longer circulate – and of these 153 died as a result of hyperinflation.
#14: Gold is an excellent protector against inflation
Gold has maintained it’s buying power across history – however when priced in US dollars, we see an average price rise of 9% every year for the past 45 years.
Gold hasn’t actually gained in value, it’s just that the US dollar like all fiat currencies loses a little of it’s value every day.
#15: Gold grows on trees
Australian researchers have found small traces of gold in the leaves of Eucalyptus trees.
These microscopic gold particles have traveled up from underground ore deposits thanks to Eucalyptus trees having developed very long roots in their hunt for water.
#16: There’s more gold in a ton of old PCs than 17 tons of gold ore
More gold can be recovered from scrap computers than the best of gold bearing ores ton for ton.
Recovery experts say there is 80 times more gold in a ton of scrap cellphones than in a small-scale gold mine.
Apple recovered 2,204 pounds of gold from broken iPhones in 2015 – with a value of $51,425,600.
#17: The world’s biggest gold bar weights 551 lb
The 551lb (250kg) monster bar measures 17.9in × 8.9in at 6.7 inches high and was manufactured by Mitsubishi Materials Corporation, a subsidiary of Mitsubishi.
At $50,957/kg, the bar is currently worth a whopping $12,739,250!
#18: Olympic gold medals are not gold
Although the 1912 Olympic games gave out solid gold medals as prizes, modern day gold medals only contain a thin covering of the metal – 6 grams or 0.2oz all told.
That’s the same amount of gold built into 175 iPhones.
#19: Your wedding ring is constantly shrinking
Because gold is a soft metal, simply wearing your wedding ring causes 6 milligrams to be lost due to damage every year.
If there are one billion wedding rings being worn at any time, this means we’re losing a collective 6 tonnes of gold each year.
#20: It was illegal for US citizens to own gold
U.S. citizens were outlawed from hoarding gold in 1933’s Executive Order 6102.
Under Franklin Roosevelt’s law, owning gold was punishable by a fine of up to $10,000 (equiv to $190,000 today) and/or 10 years in prison.
The law stood from 1933 to 1974 finally being repealed on January 1, 1975,
#21: Gold is alien
Almost all gold on Earth was delivered by extraterrestrial rocks – meteorites bombarding the planet over the space of 200 million years.
Hitting the then highly volcanic earth, the gold sunk into the planet’s liquid core where the cooling rock held the metal to be discovered by future miners.
#22: The Earth’s core contains enough gold for a thick coat over the planet’s entire surface
Thanks to it’s bombardment by gold-laden extraterrestrial rocks, the Earths core contains enough gold that could see the planet’s surface covered in a layer of solid gold over 12 feet thick.
#23: NASA has found a nearby space rock filled with gold
NASA estimates the near-Earth asteroid Eros contains 20 billion tonnes of gold.
For comparison, the Earth’s total supply stands at 171,300 tonnes
#24: We only have 52,000 tonnes of mineable gold left on Earth
The US Geological Survey estimates there are only 52,000 tonnes of gold still in the ground that are capable of traditional extraction – although the majority cannot be extracted efficiently at even close to gold’s current prices.
It’s estimated there may be only 20 years worth of gold left in the world that can be mined using current technology.
#25: Gold is sent from the Gods
Gold has long been associated with a divine sphere, both in pre-Christian and in Christian religion. Ancient Egyptians considered gold to be the skin or flesh of their gods – in particular the sun god Ra. The Inca believed that gold to be the sweat of the Sun god, Inti.
There are over 400 references to gold in the Bible, including specific instructions from God to cover furniture in the tabernacle with “pure gold.”
And of course gold was one of the gifts given by the Magi to the Christ child.
#26: Aurophobia is the fear of gold
Aurophobia victims can suffer panic attacks, fast breathing, nausea, irregular heartbeat, or slow breathing and the symptoms are usually triggered when the sufferers sees or is in the vicinity of gold.
Chrysophilia on the other hand is the love of gold.
#27: Gold was thought to cure The Plague
During the fourteenth century, gold was said to be a cure for the bubonic plague.
Sufferers were made to drink a solution of powdered gold and crushed emeralds.
#28: Gold can treat cancer
The injection of gold into the body could help fight certain forms of cancer.
Research conducted at Rice University in Texas, along with the MD Anderson Cancer Center and other institutes has shown how injecting gold nano-particles into the body sees them accumulate around a tumor – which is then blasted with near-infra red light.
During this process the gold nano-particles turn the light into heat, concentrating heat onto the tumor and killing it.
#29:The Greeks thought gold was a dense combination of water and sunlight
Ancient Greeks considered gold to be a highly concentrated mixture of water and light, glowing like the sun and flowing in molten state like water.
#30: The Greeks were almost right part 1: the sun is made of gold
The sun contains 2,340,000,000,000,000,000 tons of gold – which is 1.6 times as much gold as we have water in the Earth’s oceans.
#31: The Greeks were almost right part 2: the sea is made of gold
Or at least the sea contains a LOT of gold held in solution. The earth’s oceans are filled with almost 20 million tons of gold.
Despite having a value in excess of $900 Trillion – at the moment there’s no cost-effective method for removing this gold from seawater.
#32: Love Gold? Move to Lebanon
After Switzerland, the country with the world’s largest gold reserves per citizen is currently Lebanon.
Each and every citizen of Lebanon owns a 1.66oz share of the nation’s gold versus the US where our share is only 0.92oz.
In fact the US is placed 8th, behind Switzerland, Lebanon, Netherlands Antilles, the Eurozone, Aruba, Kuwait and Singapore.
#33: Love Gold and overweight? Move to Dubai
To fight a rapidly “growing” population, Dubai hit upon the idea of giving it’s citizens 1g of gold for every kilo in weight they lost.
Initially focused on Dubai’s adult population, the program paid out $762,340 in gold during it’s first year and from 2014 offered double the gold reward for overweight children.
#34: Indian housewives own the most gold in the world
Such is the love of gold in India, that Indian housewives hold 11% of the world’s entire gold holdings.
At an estimated 25,000 tonnes, that’s more gold than the reserves of the U.S., IMF, Switzerland and Germany added together.
#35: Gold was the first metal to be discovered
Gold (along with silver and copper) were the first metals to be found in nature and used by humans – at around 5000 B.C.
Gold, Silver and Copper are all examples of “native metals” – that is metals which naturally occur in a relatively pure state – and so they were obviously unusual when first found.
Gold and copper are also the only two non-white-colored metals in the periodic table.
#36: Gold can be really easy to find
Because gold can be found in large grains and nuggets, or in easy to mine concentrations there were some regions in our early world where it was almost hard NOT to find gold.
The Spanish word for this type of gold find is “bonanza” – a phrase we still use to describe an unexpected treasure.
#37: Gold finds can be highly concentrated
Since the year 1500, we’ve been able to mine 100,000 tonnes of gold – and of that, over 40% has come from a single location: Witwatersrand, in South Africa.
Discovered between 1852-1886, South Africa’s gold and the various claims on it, were some of the main factors leading to the Anglo Boer War of 1899-1902.
#38: Gold’s production costs a lot more than money
Although “all-in sustaining costs,” put the price of extracting an ounce of gold at more than $1,000 industry-wide, the cost goes beyond mere money.
Producing a single ounce of gold requires a lot of resources: 38 man hours, 1400 gallons of water, enough electricity to run a large house for ten days, and the use of noxious chemicals such as cyanide, acids, lead, borax, and lime.
Working conditions can be horrendous with goldmines in South Africa descending as far as 12,000 feet with internal temperatures in excess of 130°F.
#39: 500,000 people work in the gold mining industry extracting 2,500 tonnes per year
That’s only 160oz per person per year – and as new gold gets more difficult to extract, these numbers are dropping every year.
“Peak Gold” was reached in 2001 when world gold mining produced a record 2,600 tons, however it has fallen off year-on-year since.
#40: Thank the French for gold measurements
Gold is measured in “Troy Ounces” – the term coming from the french town of Troyes, where a system of weights and measures was developed in the middle ages to accurately value precious metals and gems.
One troy ounce equals 1.09714 oz.
#41: Gold measurement is also “nuts”
Gold purity is measured in carats, a word coming from the Greek keration or the carob tree.
This is because the seeds of a carob tree were believed to all be the same weight – and if a pure gold coin weighed 24 carob seeds, this would go on to became 24 carat.
#42: Gold is inert
Gold is what’s known as a “noble metal” – in that it’s chemically inert, never rusts, tarnishes or crumbles.
While most metals will dissolve in acid, gold needs a concentrated mixture of acids called Aqua Regia (Regal water or kings water) to dissolve. Aqua Regia is a mixture of nitric acid and hydrochloric acid.
#43: Gold doesn’t cause skin irritations
Because gold is inert this means it’s non-reactive to skin, even if you other wise suffer from allergies.
If gold jewelry causes itching or irritation, then it’s not pure gold.
#44: Dentists use 60 tons of gold every year
Soft and non-reactive, with no taste, gold makes an excellent material for fillings – and dentists use 2% of our annual gold mining production.
#45 Gold is used to protect wealth during financial crises
Gold has always been an excellent medium for the storage of wealth, protecting against inflation and acting as a safe-haven investment during times of turmoil.
During the crash of 2008 and the resulting long recession, gold’s value soared as paper assets, stocks, bonds and real estate plummeted.
You can learn more about how gold acts in our free Gold Guide and Investor Kit, delivered 100% free of charge direct to your doorstep.
Bernstein, Peter L. The Power of Gold: The History of An Obsession. New York, NY: John Wiley & Sons, Inc, 2000.
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