Patrick J. Kiger (via dsc.discovery.com) tell us ten interesting facts about gold:

"1: Historically, Its Worth Has Been Stable

Over the past decade, the value of gold has risen sharply, from about $279 per ounce in 2000 to around $1,300 per ounce in mid-2010. Yet for most of the previous two centuries, the per-ounce price was stable for extremely long stretches. From 1833 to 1918, for example, the price of gold never rose more than six cents from its initial price of $18.93 per ounce, and between 1933 and 1967 its price rose just 26 cents per ounce, despite dozens of inflationary crises and economic downturns.

2: It Can Be Stretched for Miles

Gold is so soft and malleable that an ounce of it could be stretched into a wire 50 miles in length, or be flattened into a sheet 100 square feet in area.

3: It's Soft But Heavy

Despite its softness, gold is so incredibly dense and heavy that a cubic foot of it weighs half a ton. In 1875, English economist Stanley Jevons calculated that if the 20 million British Pounds in transactions that cleared the London Bankers Clearing House each day were paid in gold coins, it would require 80 strong horses to haul them away.

4: It's Sifted From Soil

Much of today's gold supply comes not from digging deep mines in search of ore-bearing veins, but from sifting through vast quantities of soil for loose grains eroded from mountains and carried by flowing water. In order to extract South Africa's annual output of 500 tons of gold, for example, about 70 million tons of earth must be milled — an amount equivalent to the Egyptian pyramid of Cheops in volume.

5: It's Born in Supernovas

While no one knows for certain how most heavier elements like gold are made, what is known about the stellar origin of all elements is that a star's nuclear furnace can only produce nuclei up to the size of iron (atomic number 26 - gold is 79). The best guess for the source of all heavier elements is the only force in the universe with the enormous energy needed to fuse large nuclei: a supernova explosion. So the next time you hold gold in your hand, try to imagine mind-blowing circumstances of its birth, a genesis that must reach back to before the origin of our Solar System.

6: Most of it Becomes Jewelry

According to the World Gold Council, about 70 percent of the world's gold output is used for making jewelry. Only about 13 percent is used to make coins, put in nations' central banks or purchased by investors. The rest goes to a variety of uses, such as industrial applications and dentistry. India is the biggest consumer of gold, snapping up about a quarter of the world's supply. According to an article in Diamond World magazine, the South Asian nation imports about 800 tons of gold annually, and uses about 600 tons of it to make jewelry.

7: Its Karat Was First a Fruit

The karat, the measurement of the purity of gold, originally was a measure of weight. The unit was named after the fruit of the leguminous carob tree, whose pods each weigh about one-fifth of a gram.

8: It's Used in Electronics

Gold is prized not just by jewelers and bankers but by electronics manufacturers because its high degree of thermal and electrical conductivity makes it an excellent material for efficient wires and contacts. It's also durable and highly resistant to corrosion, and so sufficiently malleable that gold alloys can be drawn into extremely thin diameters without breaking.

9: It Contributed to the Decline of a Nation

The vast amounts of gold and silver seized by Spanish conquistadors and shipped back across the Atlantic in galleons increased the European supply of precious metals five-fold between 1492 and 1600. But all that gold actually weakened the Spanish empire, rather than enriching it, because the Spanish used it to buy consumer imports rather than investing the wealth in productive enterprises that would generate income. That drove up prices, which made the gold worth less, and Spain wound up amassing huge foreign debts that ultimately led to its decline as an international power.

10: It Comes in Many Colors

In relatively pure form, gold has a characteristic sun-yellow color. But when combined in alloys with other metals — silver, copper, nickel, platinum, palladium, tellurium and iron, among others — it can take on hues ranging from silver-white to green to orange-red."

So true!

Marco Picón

Author of "Cash for Gold! Cash for Gold! The forms of frauds employed in the gold business"

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