Last one out of the Kinjaverse, turn out the lights.
Last one out of the Kinjaverse, turn out the lights.
Illustration for article titled Otters Oddities

There's gold in them thar hills!

I have issues with that statement. The first being, the grammar is terrible. The second is, which hills, where? The third is, that gold isn't mine.


How much gold do you think is in that picture, 7....8 ounces? More? Less?

To be honest, I have no idea how much is there. I just did a search for "pile of gold" and there it was...


If you haven't guessed it by now, gold is going to be the subject of todays oddity. There are many aspects about gold that are, if not odd, at least interesting.

For example, did you know that 75% of all the gold ever mined in the history of man, has been mined in the last 100 years.


Or, how about the fact that gold is so soft, you can smash a single gram into a 1 meter square sheet. And that sheet will be so thin, you can see light through it.

Those facts are interesting, but not really odd. The oddity I have for you is also interesting. Depending on your thoughts on the subject, it might be odd as well. I guess we'll just have to wait and see.


Gold seems to be everywhere, doesn't it? It's in our electronics, our cars, our jewelry, our teeth, our um...doohickeys....the uh....other thingies.....

Anyway, gold is everywhere. If you look around you, you are probably either wearing gold, or have gold within 2 feet of you right now. I guarantee it. Because you're reading this on a computer, tablet or phone. And all of those have gold in them.


Think about all the museums around the world, and all the gold they have on display or in storage. And the gub'mint. They have a lot of gold stashed away.

And what about all the coin collectors. And jewelry owners.

There sure is a lot of gold out there, isn't there?

Have you ever wondered just how much there is? Well, otter is here to slap down the truth on you about all the gold.


Gold has been valuable for as long as humans have been able to have frivolous things. To the very earliest humans, gold was worthless. It was shiny, sure, but it was soft. You couldn't make tools with it. And who had time to find enough of it, anyway?

But as humans began building 'wealth', they began to be able to collect things that didn't have any purpose other than to look nice. And that's when people started gathering gold.


It was not the easiest metal to collect. But people did. They discovered that if you dug into certain types of ground, you could find more of it. They also found that it gathered in streams after being washed out of mountain sides.

Some of the oldest examples of jewelry are gold. Many cultures, like the Egyptians and Aztec/Inca societies prized gold. And we have thousands of their golden artifacts in museums all over the world.


Curious people like me took the time to figure out how much gold has been collected. Ever.


This oddity os based on estimates. Many people have tried to calculate the exact number, and while we can never know for sure, they have all come up with good estimates.


Today, humans mine 50,000,000 troy ounces of gold each year. Modern mining techniques have been around for about 200 years. So what the experts have done, is assumed a production output of gold at 50 million ounces a year for 200 years. And that's the estimation I talked about in the disclaimer.

They don't go back any further than 200 years. Now, that may seem to you that the estimate would be way off.


And it is off. All the experts agree that it's too high. But they think it's best to err on the high side rather than the low side.

Their justification is this: With our modern tech, we get 50 million ounces a year. 200 years ago, they were getting about 2 to 3 million ounces a year. Gold output increased each year until it finally reached the level we're at today.


Given that ancient cultures have been pulling gold out of the ground for thousands of years, they think the difference between the actual output and the amount they applied is enough to cover all mining more than 200 years old. And they are probably fairly close when you considered that, for a long time, the amount of gold collected was in the hundreds of ounces.

So, using the experts numbers, we come up with 10,000,000,000 troy ounces.

Ten. Billion. Ounces.

That's a lot of gold, man. Oh holy crap! As I write this, gold is trading in NYC for $1,284.60 an ounce. Doing a little rough math, that makes all the gold mined to date worth about $130 trillion.


But, how much gold is that? Gold has a specific gravity of 19.3. That means 1 liter of gold weighs 19.3 kilograms. (a liter is a 10 cm cube). There are 32.15 troy ounces in each kilogram. So if we break out a calculator, we end up with a cube of gold that's 25 meters on each side.

"Well", you're thinking, "That's big!"

But how big, exactly? Picturing a 25x25x25 cube is tough.

Luckily, some nerd somewhere who had too much time on their hands, (it wasn't me, I swear!), figured it out.


Picture in your mind the Washington Monument in Washington D.C. The monument, at it's base is 55 feet on each side. So if we change the dimensions of our gold cube to fit those of the monument, it turns out that all the gold ever mined would.... about 1/3 the height of the Washington monument.

Again, you're thinking "Holy underwear Batman! That's a lot of gold!"

But is it? Think about how much gold you have. And you parents have. And friends. Now, multiply all that gold with all the other people in the world. And include all the gold artifacts, coins, electronics everywhere. That's ever been collected.


Then compare that pile to the mental image of the actual amount we've discussed. Which pile is bigger?

With the prevalence of gold in society, it's hard to imagine that all the gold ever mined everywhere would only make up 1/3 of the Washington Monument.


But remember back in the beginning of this post where I said 1 gram of gold could be flattened so thin that light will pass through it? The sad truth is, while there is gold in your electronics, there isn't much. The same goes for your jewelry. That gold necklace you have? How much gold is really in it when you can go buy it for $100?

And now, I'm going to bed so I can dream about having more ounces of gold than Scrooge McDuck.

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