Think you know about gold? Every now and then, we like to drop a few new facts that help us remember how important and unique gold is. We hold these close to our hearts, since gold in California is part of our state heritage. Here are 8 of our favorites:
- Every hour, more steel is created in the world than the total amount of gold that’s been discovered in all of human history. That’s how rare gold is.
- The largest gold nugget ever discovered was the “Welcome Stranger.” It was discovered in Australia in 1869, and measured 10 by 25 inches. Of course, the nugget itself wasn’t pure gold – nuggets never are, and it was broken apart over the years.
- Today, that would be less likely. A gold nugget is often more valuable than the amount of gold it contains. This is because nuggets of size are so rare – a nugget can fetch value nearly four times as high as the value of the gold it contains.
- Many economies throughout the world relied on a gold standard up until partway through the 20th century. The last country to back its currency with gold was holdout Switzerland. Until 1999, 40-percent of the Swiss Franc was backed by gold.
- What is a carat anyway? The unit of measure was originally based on the mass of a carob seed.
- Why is gold so useful in electronics? Its malleable nature makes it easy to shape and thread, and it retains its strength even when very thin (its malleability means it isn’t very brittle). It readily conducts electricity, but it is resistant to rusting and it doesn’t oxidize. We think of gold only for its value, but it’s also one of the most technologically useful metals humankind knows.
- It’s estimated 80-percent of the gold on Earth is still buried underground. Looks like it’s time to start panning and digging!
- Where else in the universe can gold be found? Scientists believe that at least Mercury, Venus, and Mars hold gold, and it’s very likely many moons contain it, too. Of course, that’s a little far. Here in California, Roaring Camp Mining Co. is a great place to come learn panning for gold and enjoy the long history of mining for gold in the West.