Scientists estimate that there are about 25 tons of pure gold dissolved in a square kilometre of sea water, meaning that there is about 9,000 million tons of pure gold in our oceans. This is more than 180 times the total yield of gold taken from mines throughout the history of humanity. It is true that when you take a swim in the ocean, your body is actually surrounded by thousands of minute flakes of pure gold. This gold flows into the oceans via the rivers. Unfortunately no economic way of extracting this gold from our oceans could yet be found.
Gold is not only used in jewellery. Dentists have been making use of gold for a very long time. Gold is an excellent conductor of electricity and is used in some undersea cable systems, calculators, electrical contactors, telephones, radio and TV equipment. Gold plated windows are an innovation that is becoming more and more popular in America. Windows coated with a thin layer of gold reflect the sun’s heat and keep rooms and offices surprisingly cool. Gold was used in a similar way to protect the Apollo Spacecraft from cosmic rays and even the visors on the helmets of the astronauts were given a layer of gold. In the world of medicine, gold is being used for muscle injections to relieve the pain of rheumatoid arthritis, and gold leaf was has been found to be a successful way of to dress skin ulcers. Tycho Brahe, the famous Danish astronomer, wore a false nose made of solid gold to compensate for the one he has lost!
Statisticians say that in six millenniums only about 9,000 tons of gold has been extracted from the earth. The mind boggles when one assesses that considerably more than 90,000 tons of steel is produced every single hour of the day. A ton of rock from the average South African gold mine will yield about 14 grams (less than ½ ounce) of gold. If all the gold that has ever been mined was lumped together, it would make a cube no larger than 13.75 cubic metres.
Gold is the most malleable and ductile of all known metals. A single ounce of gold (the mass of a full Krugerrand) can be beaten into a sheet measuring roughly 5 meters on a side! Today gold is the only metal used as an international monetary commodity.