AMAZING GOLD FACTS
When watching Gold Rush, Jungle Gold and Bering Sea Gold have you ever wondered, "How did the gold get there?" Or perhaps, "Aside from tiaras and such, what happens to it when it's sold and used?" These are all good questions, and it's a story that starts four billion years ago. And ever since humans discovered it, it's only gotten more interesting.
Knee Deep in Gold
Imagine this snow is pure gold! Nearly all of the gold on Earth came from meteorites that bombarded the planet over 4 billion years ago for over 200 million years. That’s a lot of gold! To put it in numbers: instead of a snowstorm, imagine waking up to a golden blizzard that has dumped enough gold to come somewhere between your knees and 12 feet – across the ENTIRE land surface of the Earth.
That Gold Looks Familiar
Seventy-five percent of all gold in use today has been extracted since 1910. That’s a mere minute in time if you consider it this way: 75% of all the gold in circulation today was pulled out of the ground during roughly 1.5% of the 7,000 years since man first discovered it in 5,000 B.C.E.
Scratching The Surface
If you ponder the first two facts and wonder how much gold there might be out there for someone to discover, out of the entire portion that rained down on Earth, scientists estimate 80% of the world’s gold still remains undiscovered. It might be time to get digging!
Swimming in Gold
Numbers show the world pours more steel in one hour than it has poured gold since the beginning of recorded history. If we think about it the reverse, compare all that steel to the total amount of gold we’ve mined since its discovery, and the gold would only fill up roughly three Olympic-sized swimming pools.
Gold and Plague
It’s been reported that medieval Europeans thought gold might cure the Bubonic Plague. Well, truthfully that was only part of the treatment – the whole cure was supposed to involve drinking molten gold with crushed up emeralds. Even if it had worked, which it did not, with those ingredients virtually no one would have been able to use it.
A single ounce of gold can be stretched into a gold thread some fifty miles long – that would stretch the span of the Golden Gate Bridge just under 30 times. It’s a great conductor of heat and electricity so there’s use there in industrial applications, but gold thread can even be used as embroidery thread and has been incorporated in everything from medieval tapestries to ancient Chinese courtier robes.
A Golden Medal?
In 1912 the Olympic Committee stopped making 24K gold medals as that would have been a hefty financial prize for that athletic glory. Now they are required to be covered in just six grams, and the athletes must count on hitting that Wheaties box if they're looking for riches.
Gold Gets Around
Gold isn’t just for jewellery and pretty clothes. Gold is used in window glass and astronaut helmets to reflect infrared rays while allowing the sunlight to pass through and keeping it cool.
A medical study in France during the early twentieth century suggests that “gold salts” or the ionic chemical compounds of gold, when injected, can be an effective treatment for rheumatoid arthritis. Why it works in some people has not been determined, and while it is sometimes prescribed today it is extremely expensive and has some long term side effects which could require monitoring.
Top Gold Users
Which country uses the most gold? Today it is India where it is not just a symbol of wealth and status, it's also part of worship and culture in traditions that go back thousands of years. South Asian jewellery is also generally of higher purity than western jewellery – 22 karats rather than 14 karats.
Death By Gold
We’ve heard of gold being valued as jewelry, for industrial purposes, and even medical cures (real or not). How about gold as a killing tool? In 1599 a Spanish governor in Ecuador taxed the Jivaro tribe so excessively they executed him by pouring molten gold down his throat in the ultimate payback. Unfortunately that’s not the only time this unusual execution was used – apparently the Romans and enforcers in the Spanish Inquisition also killed with molten gold.
Future Gold Rush?
The mining crews from Gold Rush, Jungle Gold and Bering Sea gold put their lives on the line every day in the hopes of striking it rich. Gold has been found on every continent, and with the wealth that scientists predict is still under the surface, they have a real chance. Then again it could be an average person that stumbles across a gold nugget that starts the next gold rush. Time to get out our pans and sluice trays, gold fans!
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