Gold, Glorious Gold!

Video highlights from The Quest For Gold

Everything you need to know about the sought-after element.

  • The largest gold nugget ever found is the “Welcome Stranger”, discovered in Australia on 5 February 1869 by Richard Oates and John Deason. The nugget was found just two inches below the surface.
  • The purity of gold is measured in carat weight. The term ‘carat’ comes from ‘carob seed’, which was standard for weighing small quantities in the Middle East. Carats were the fruit of the leguminous carob tree, every single pop of which weighs 1/5 of a gram (200 mg).
  • Eucalyptus trees pilfer gold from ore deposits and transport them into their leaves.
  • In the 1890s, the Australian population of 437,655 doubled, stimulated by the growing gold rush.

A gold diggers' hut of canvas and bark in the Australian gold fields in the 1850s

A gold diggers' hut of canvas and bark in the Australian gold fields in the 1850s

  • The Olympic gold medals awarded in 1912 were made entirely from gold. Currently, the gold medals just must be covered in six grams of gold.
  • Due to its high value, most gold discovered throughout history is still in circulation. However it is thought that 80% of the world’s gold is still in the ground.
  • Despite strong rumours and extensive searches, no one has ever found the Nazi gold train.
  • Gold is so pliable that it can be made into sewing thread. An ounce of gold can be stretched over 80 kilometres.
  • The Greeks thought that gold was a dense combination of water and sunlight.
  • There are more than 400 references to gold in the Bible, including specific instructions from God to cover furniture in the tabernacle with “pure gold.” Gold is also mentioned as one of the gifts of the Magi.
  • African emperor Mansa Musa ruled the empire of Mali which had the largest resources of gold in the world at that time.
  • The chemical symbol for gold is AU, from the Latin word aurum meaning, ‘shining dawn’ and from Aurora, the roman goddess of the dawn.
  • During the fourteenth century, drinking molten gold and crushed emeralds was used as a treatment for the bubonic plague.
  • In South Africa, producing an ounce of gold requires 38 man hours, 1400 gallons of water, enough electricity to run a large house for ten days, and chemicals such as cyanide, acids, lead, borax and lime.
  • In 1933, Franklin Roosevelt signed Executive Order 6102 which outlawed U.S. citizens from hoarding gold. Owning gold (except for jewellers, dentists, electricians, and other industry workers) was punishable by fine up to $10,000 and/or ten years in prison.

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