11.15.2007

All That Glitters: Gold Facts

Here are some interesting facts about gold that you may not have known.

- The Aztec word for gold is teocuitlatl which translates to "excrement of the gods."

- Conrad Reed found a 17 pound lump of gold on his father's farm in North Carolina in 1799, the first documented discovery of gold in the US. The family used it for a doorstop for three years before a local jeweler identified it. Said local jeweler bought the rock for $3.50, less than one thousandth of its value.

- A one ounce piece of gold can be beaten into a translucent sheet five-millionths of an inch thick or drawn out into 50 miles (MILES!) of wire five micrometeres thick - one tenth the diameter of a human hair.

- Gold is virtually indestructible and has been highly valued throughout history. Upwards of 85 of all gold ever found is still being used today.

- The largest reservoirs of gold on the surface of the earth, an estimated 10 billion tons, are the oceans. There is no practical way to extract it though.

- In 1999, the NEAR spacecraft showed that a single asteroid, Eros, contains more gold than has ever been mined on Earth. There's no way to retrieve that gold, yet.

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