Most people have at least one piece of this shiny, dense, precious metal in their jewellery box! With its many qualities, it’s had our attention since ancient times, right through to present day.
Attractive in color and brightness, durable to the point of virtual indestructibility, gold’s value is timeless. Why are we so mesmerized by it? Why do we often find ourselves looking in the window of a jewellery store trying to find the perfect golden earrings, the perfect ring? To find the answers, here are 42 interesting facts about gold …
- Gold’s symbol on the periodic table, Au, comes from its Latin name ‘aurum’, which means ‘glowing dawn’ or ‘glow of sunrise’.
- It’s number 79 on the periodic table, and is almost twice as heavy as iron, but it’s incredibly malleable and for that reason, it was probably the first metal humans ever wrought.
- The oldest known worked-gold artefacts, from the Thracian civilization in present-day Bulgaria, date back 4,000 years.
- The first Gold coins appeared around 700 BC.
- The death mask of the ancient Egyptian pharaoh Tutankhamen contained about 220 pounds of gold.
- The coffin found in Tutankhamen’s tomb contained around 1.5 tonnes (3307 pounds) of Gold.
- According to the American Museum of Natural History, more than 90 % of all of the gold ever used has been mined since 1848. The same year gold was discovered at Sutter’s Mill, California, launching the California Gold Rush.
- Nearly half the gold ever mined has come from one place: Witwatersrand, South Africa.
- The entire gold in the universe may have come from the colliding of neutron stars. Particles of that gold arrived on Earth in meteorites billions of years ago.
- Six ten-billionths of the Sun is gold.
- Gold has been discovered on every continent on Earth.
- There is enough gold in Earth’s core to coat its entire surface to a depth of 1.5 feet.
- Small traces of gold have been found in the leaves of Eucalyptus trees.
- The world’s oceans contain nearly 20 million tons of gold.
- Gold efficiently transfers heat and electricity, though not as well as copper and silver.
- Because gold resists oxidation and corrosion, it continues to move electrons even if occasionally exposed to the atmosphere. That’s why electrical contact surfaces are plated with a microscopic gold coating in smartphones, airbag sensor modules, and other devices.
- Apple recovered 2,204 pounds of gold from broken iPhones in 2015. That’s worth about US$40 million.
- The world’s most expensive iPhone 5 was worth US$15 million. It was made of 135 grams of 24-carat gold and the chassis was inlaid with 600 white diamonds.
- El-Sayed, a leading chemist at the Georgia Institute of Technology placed gold nanorods in mice with tumors and zapped the nanorods with a laser. The rods became hot enough to kill the adjacent cancer cells. Fifteen months later, the mice showed no long-term toxicity.
- Gold’s combined properties of malleability and biocompatibility (i.e., it can be tolerated inside the body) have made it useful in dentistry.
- Archaeologists have found gold dental modifications in skulls from Southeast Asia dating back 4,000 years.
- The Bolinao skull, an artefact from the 14th or 15th century, is one of 67 skulls featuring decorated teeth that have been excavated in the Philippines.
- Today, gold-alloy crowns are still used to cap worn-down teeth or to strengthen weakened teeth.
- Our bodies contain about 0.2 milligrams of gold, most of it in our blood.
- The visors of astronauts’ space suits are coated with a layer of gold that’s just 0.000002 inches thick. The coating shields their eyes from the Sun’s harmful infrared light while allowing visible light in.
- The world’s largest gold bar weighs 250 kg (551 lb).
- More gold is recoverable from a ton of personal computers than from 17 tons of gold ore.
- Olympic Gold Medals contain only 1.34% of gold.
- Over 6 milligrams of gold is lost every year from a Wedding Ring just by wearing it.
- Indian housewives hold 11% of the World’s Gold. That is more than the reserves of the U.S., IMF, Switzerland, and Germany put together.
- The most valuable legal tender coin in the world is a US$1 million coin from Australia. Since it weighs 1,000 kg and is 99.99% pure gold, it is worth almost US$45 million.
- In 1869, two Australians unearthed the world’s largest nugget of gold, the “Welcome Stranger,” which measured 10 by 25 inches before it was melted down.
- The largest nugget still in existence is the “Hand of Faith,” found in 1980 in Australia. It is currently on display at the Golden Nugget Casino in Las Vegas.
- The most expensive gold coin in the world is the 1933 Double Eagle, which was sold at Sotheby’s in New York in 2002 for $7.59 million.
- About one-fifth of all the gold held by the world’s governments, worth about US$248 billion, is stored beneath the streets of London.
- After Switzerland, the world’s largest per capita gold reserves are held by Lebanon.
- As of December 31, 1941, Fort Knox held 649.6 million ounces of gold. Today, Fort Knox holds about 147.3 million ounces.
- The world’s first gold vending machine was unveiled in May 2010. Located in an ultra-luxury hotel in Abu Dhabi, the vending machine itself is covered in 24-carat gold.
- Carat weight can be 10, 12, 14, 18, 22, or 24. The higher the number, the greater the purity.
- 24-carat gold melts at 1063°C or 1945°F.
- Pure Gold is so soft that it can be moulded by hand.
- Celebrities and gold? Elvis Presley owned three cars manufactured by Stutz Motor Company, in which every part that is normally chrome was converted to gold.
Do you have any interesting or fun facts about gold that we’ve missed? Share them here in the comments section below!
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