Why is Gold Gold?

Now that’s a lotta gold!  Gold, copper, and silver are pretty close on the periodic table — in fact, nearly all our precious metals, including nickel and platinum, fit into the furthest right two columns of the transition metals.   That gives them all very similar chemical properties, but one thing it doesn’t really explain is color.

Surprisingly, all of those metals are highly reflective, but don’t really have a color unless you factor in relativistic physics.   Yes, everyone has loved gold for its color since ancient times, but it wasn’t until Einstein arrived that we can explain its two most valuable characteristics.

Atoms have electrons zooming around the nucleus, and they’re a big factor in how the periodic table is arranged.   All of those elements at the right end of the transition metals should have very similar qualities of shininess, conductivity, malleability — which is true.

For copper and gold, however, their electrons are subject to relativistic forces that change their atomic size, making them a filter for light, rather than having a particular color themselves.  Both would be shiny and silver if not for this filtering, and gold’s gold color is also tied to its lack of tarnishing, preventing it from being as reactive as copper and silver to oxidation and other reactions. So, the next time you see a gold coin, marvel at the universal forces that make it look the way it does!


Millions Of Gold In Scrap Safe

My Gracie once bought a box of old used greeting cards at a rummage sale.   I thought it was a waste of fifty cents, but in one of the old cards she found twenty bucks.   A profitable day — now, take that times ninety gajillion, and you have what happened in Houston.

A Texas scrap collector hauled off a locked mystery safe.  Nobody knew what was inside, but he promised to return the contents to the previous owner if anything valuable turned up.

Well, what turned up was over two million dollars in gold coins.  What is it about plumbing pipes that encourages people to store coins in it?  Anyhow, the happy ending is that the original owner of the coins got their safe back, and the scrapper got a heavy-ass safe.  Everybody wins!


eBay Gold Prices

It has been six months since my last review of eBay gold prices, so here’s the skinny on the current price of gold, as taken from a sample of actual eBay closed auctions for known gold coins.

Coin on eBay April Avg Oct Avg % Chg
20 Franc Rooster $320 $271 -15%
10 Franc Rooster $204 $194 -5%
$5 Eagle $436 $418 -4%
$10 Eagle $809 $823 -2%
Average per oz $1819 $1714 -6%
Actual Gold Price $1425 $1335 -6%

Lookit there:  eBay has been pretty much spot-on, on average, with the actual spot price of gold over the past month.  28% seems to be pretty consistent as an eBay seller’s premium, so be sure you’re figuring that into your calculations.

I came up with $1,335 as an average price of gold for October, but one should note that mid-month gold dropped to about $1275 before bouncing back up into the $1350 range.  Also, note that in April the $10 US gold coin was the outlier; this month the 20franc coin had a bigger change than the others.   It’s only a sample of two, but you might want to consider sticking to the less-volatile smaller gold coins if you want your gold to remain steadier on the eBay market — and watch the larger coins for fluctuations that you can take advantage of.

Free Gold For Losing Weight!

If you’re a Dubaiyan…Dubaiiyian?  If you’re a Dubaian, you’ve got the opportunity of a lifetime: the Your Weight In Gold program will give registered participants one gram of gold for every kilogram of weight lost.   That’s about $40 a kilogram, which isn’t much to sneeze at, especially when gold is at an extreme low right now and is poised to gain again eventually.  The event is set to correspond with the holy month of Ramadan, when adherents fast during daylight hours.  This might seem like an easy time to lose weight, but it’s actually the opposite: healthy Muslims generally gain weight during Ramadan.

If you’re thinking you might sign up and lose a Mohammedload of weight and rake in the gold, be aware that a kilogram per week is about all a person can do and stay healthy.   The average person weighs somewhere around 70kg, so if you plan on making a grand off the Weight In Gold competition, you’ll have to part with arms and legs to get there.

It turns out that financial incentives for losing weight are actually quite effective — so much, though, that when the incentive disappears the weight often comes back.  Apparently people don’t get the “diabetes and heart disease are really expensive” part of the equation.  As an investment model, though, check out the similarity:  people are more likely to make an investment that has a quantifiable, quick return than to a undefined future return that might be greater in the long run.  ”Why should I put my 401(k) is safe index funds — the economy is returning as we speak, put it in stocks for a quick return now!”

Your Weight In Gold might not be much more than a Stanford Prison Marshmallow Experiment but with precious metals, but it might do some good in the short term — and there’s ways to get money by losing weight elsewhere, too.  HealthyWage is the most explicit in this: join a team, lose weight, and get paid. In the UK, WeightWins does about the same thing.  HealthyLoser doesn’t guarantee payment, but you could win a lot more in their weight-loss lottery.  Less direct, give your health insurance company a call: many are giving cash rewards for people to go to the gym.  If you’ve got life or cancer insurance, too, check with them as well — they all benefit from you not dying too soon. Because your employer foots part of your insurance bill, companies are jumping in and doing the same, in hopes of reducing their premiums.  The service Spott3r helps make sure you exercise and get your reimbursement perk, so signing up there might help ensure success.   A wise investor never leaves money on the table, and if you’re failing to lose weight, there’s money in it for you, which, if you really, really want gold, you can take and turn into precious metals, just like Dubians…Dubuiians?  Whatever they’re called in Dubai.