Gold, its history, and its properties, are fascinating. And we’re not just saying that because, you know, we work with gold (like how you can find a buyer). Gold has, for better and for worse, been an immensely important part in our history. For example, it and silver fueled the original colonization in South America and ultimately North America as well.
Below we’ve collected 10 of the most interesting facts about gold. Which ones did you know? Which ones are new? Which ones surprise you the most? Read on! Find out!
1. Big deal, small amount
All the gold in the world could be compressed into an 18-yard cube. This would have about 1/10 the mass of the Washington Monument. In fact, gold is so rare that in one hour today we pour more steel than we’ve poured gold in our entire existence as a species!
2. It’s in the water!
At the same time, it isn’t actually that rare. For example, there is a huge amount of gold in the oceans – about 25 tons per cubic mile. In total, that amounts to about 10 billion tons in all. That’s 63 thousand times more than the 161 thousand tons humanity has managed to mine so far.
The problem? We have no idea how to extract it economically! So, maybe that’s a new weekend project for you? Don’t expect it to be easy, though. You see, gold is a noble element, which means it’s very unreactive. And as getting it out of the sea would mean you’ve got to get it to react with something, that’s a problem!
3. And the food
The fact that it’s so unreactive has its benefits, though. It means you can wear gold without having an allergic reaction to it! (If you are having a reaction, whoever gave it to you might not have been entirely honest about its purity).
It can also be eaten without any negative effects. For that reason – and as gold can be found across all 7 continents – gold is consumed in many cultures, across Asia to America. Native Americans believed eating gold let you levitate!
Gold is the most malleable and ductile pure metal known to man. In its pure form, it can actually be molded by hand. If you have an ounce of gold, a hammer and a lot of frustration to work out, you could flatten it into a sheet measuring 100 square feet.
5. Don’t sweat it
In the olden days, our currencies were based on valuable metals. The most valuable coins made of gold. In those times, many criminals focused on debasing coins to make money. There were two common ways to do this. They were known as ‘clipping’ and ‘sweating’.
Clipping was where the criminal would remove (or clip) gold from the coin. That’s why many coins nowadays have those ridges or writing on the side, so you can see when a coin has been clipped.
The other way was ‘sweating’, which was where you put the coins in a bag, shook around a lot and the gold dust collected. The biggest debasers weren’t small criminal organizations, though. They were the governments, who would mix in cheap metals.
Chemistry comes forth from the medieval ‘science’ of alchemy, which was in a large part about turning lead into gold. The most famous alchemist in the world was Isaac Newton. Yes, the scientist.
Except, he wasn’t really a scientist. Besides many great inventions (including understanding gravity), he spent so much time trying to turn lead into gold. He spent so much time on it, went partially mad from lead poisoning.
7. Where you least expect it
Gold is used in a lot of modern technology. For example, the helmets of an astronaut’s suit are lined with gold to reflect the sun and keep it cool. Computers also have a lot of gold in them. In fact, they contain so much that 1 ton of old computer equipment has more gold than 17 tons of gold ore.
8. From the stars
Gold is a space metal, which arrived on our planet about 200 million years ago in asteroids. Yup, that’s right, it’s star dust! Many cultures understood its otherworldly significant. The Egyptians believed it was the skin of the gods. The Greeks believed it was a combination of water and sunlight. And the Incans though it was the tears of the sun.
In fact, the letters on the periodic table for gold, Au, is for the word “Aurum” which is Latin for “Shining Dawn”.
9. Okay, but some people went too far
Gold has many medical properties. For example, it is sometimes injected into joints to help with rheumatoid arthritis. In the past, the healing properties were thought to be far more significant, however.
For example, many rich people believed that drinking gold would fight off the bubonic plague. Incidentally, this was also around the time that the word ‘quacksalver’ was introduced.
10. So where can I get some?
80% of the gold is still thought to be underground. And, seeing as gold exists on every continent, that means your back garden could have some. Of course, just because it has been found everywhere doesn’t mean that it’s equally distributed everywhere.
The most has been found in South Africa, where some 40% of the world’s gold has been dug up. To do so, they’ve had to go up to 2 miles underground. So yeah, if you want to hunt gold, you’d better not be claustrophobic!
Of course, if you want to sell gold, that’s an entirely different matter. That you can do from anywhere. Just follow these simple instructions and you’ll be set, for there are always gold buyers nearby.