30 foot cube of Gold


Once on Jeopardy there was a question similar to: All of this element, ever mined in the history of the world, would fit into a cube 30 feet per side. No one answered correctly. The answer was Gold. I couldn’t believe it-and the more I think about it the less I do. Ive also heard this “fact” somewhere else(don’t know where).

Anyone know the straight dope?


This article seems fairly authoritative:

An 18.5 meter cube would be 60.7 feet on a side. So, quite a bit larger than the figure quoted on Jeopardy!, but still a comparatively small volume.

I saw that episode… I thought the answer was 50+ feet per side. I could be wrong…

Just some quick math for shits and giggles:

All of the gold ever mined up to 1985 (3.85 billion troy oz.) + the current price of gold in the United States ($403.20 per troy oz.) = $1,552,320,000,000 (USD). :eek:

Hard to believe that all the gold ever mined would fit in my apartment. :smiley:


At about 132000 tons, it probably wouldn’t fit there for very long, unless you have a basement apartment.

I remember that question, and I think it was 50 feet, followed by me saying “That’s all???”

Probably not.

A cube 60.7 feet on each of its three sides contains 223,649 cubic feet of material.

Assuming your apartment has 8 foot ceilings, that’s enough material to fill an apartment with 27,956 square feet of floorspace.

To put that in perpective, an acre is 43560 square feet. So your apartment is just shy of 2/3rds of an acre.

Nice apartment. May I move in as your butler?

Well, I was going on the 30-foot number, but still, I stand corrected. And such a classy way of correcting me, too. :smiley:


I’m guess it’s available now that Friends has been cancelled.

This seems really, really odd. I mean, I’ve seen plenty of gold in my life. Jewelry, coins, electronic components, down to teeth and raw nuggets. It simply isn’t that hard to find in America. And even assuming that all the jewelry I’ve ever seen was very thinly plated (okay, a majority was, probably, but there are more than a few pieces which simply were not that shoddy), and all the coins were really thin (I’ve seen really thin gold coins (Austro-Hungarian really thin gold coins, no less :)), but not all of them were that chintzy), and all of the teeth and components were cheap mixes (teeth, maybe, but wiring?), that still seems like a lot of gold.

I’m thinking that it’s another instance of the human mind not coping well with estimating cubic volumes.

I heard the cube was 15 feet to a side. Same metal though.

In this column he says:

Note that this is a fairly old column (2nd book) and possibly predates 1985.

I don’t know about anyone else, but for a rare element, that large a cube (whether 18 yards or 18.5 meters) seems like quite a bit. I imagine it’s significantly larger than the amount of platinum or uranium that’s been mined.

Just to add some more figures to the mix:

This article gives a cube of about 25m (~82 feet) on a side.

The same page gives a cube of 6.3m (~20 feet) for all the platinum ever mined.

The US Mint gives a figure of 20 yards for gold.

The World Gold Council says 145,000 tonnes, which is pretty close to (but still larger than) yabob’s figure of 132,000 tons (a metric tonne and an American ton aren’t too far apart).

and then again…they could be wrong. I like stats. and “facts” and figures…science is just way cool. But there are some things that science misses the boat on and this is probably one of them.
Yeah, I know…CITE.

Well, I’ll see what I can dig up. Be back soon. :slight_smile:

I think you’d be surprised how much uranium has been mined. Currently, world production is anywhere from 30-50 thousand metric tons a year, according to various sources I looked up, and has been about that for at least the last two decades. Let’s be conservative and say 30,000 metric tons over the last 20 years, which is 600,000 metric tons. Given the density of uranium at about 19 g/cm[sup]3[/sup], that by itself amounts to a cube of uranium 103 feet on a side!

Troy ounces make my head hurt. 480 grains = 1 troy oz. = 1/12 troy pound…

I had to tell a guy at the library where I work why he really wasn’t going to be able to buy 1-3 tons of gold from a broker.

I told him how much it would cost (around $10 million at the time). I wanted to suggest to the guy that he just hire Pussy Galore and her team of pilots.

OK, uranium was not a good example, as it’s significantly more common in the Earth’s crust than gold is.

out of time but I’ll get my cites tomorrow and show y’all it’s bullshit

While there are NO actual historical figures for the world’s gold production available. They are merely guesses based on incomplete and/or fragmented documents. There is NO available data on gold stores in the Orient, pre-Columbian America, Africa including Egypt and the Middle East. These volumes of gold are merely dismissed as being insignificant when referring to the total volume of gold discovered in man’s history.
The most recent estimate of ALL gold is estimated at between 80-85cu’. (a bit more than 30’ I’d say) The problem with these estimates are that they include only mined gold and only gold mined in the past 200 years.
I’m not a gold expert but according to USGS:
Most of the world’s (est.60%) gold is held by private individuals. There is no way to know exactly how much that is. Only 30% of the worlds gold supply is “inventory” held by banks or goverments.

Just a few things I thought might be interesting.
How big is a tonne of gold?

In 2001, mine production amounted to 2,604 tonnes

:eek: 72,000,000

(how stuff works)  **Wait a minute! 14cu'/year? = 82cu'/ever** NOT


I could play this out for awhile but it is fairly obvious to me that the USGS and the great many others who cite the USGS are simply guessing.
Gold stores that are “lost” do not count. They include only gold that can be verified. I understand this but to say ALL gold and EVER…rings a bit untrue to me. The thousands of tons of gold stolen by Spain from Central and South America. Not included because for one it is considered an insignificant amount. Spain admitted having in excess of 400 tons at the minimum estimate. The Incas managed to salvage some 1500 tons of gold. The Mayans even more.

The vast quantities of African gold aren’t included for the same reasons. Egyptian, Arab, Indian, Chinese, etc. these insignificant amounts are overlooked because the gold wasn’t mined and therefore couldn’t have been in large enough quantities to matter. Several sites discuss the rooms full of gold held by the Emperors, Kings, etc. throughout the world. These quantities aren’t verifiable…
In China for instance the value of gold was actually low when compared to the more precious jade. Tons of gold would be buried when a member of the royal family would die. Not to mention hundreds of servants, concubines, horses, etc…
I’m not gonna ramble on with this anymore. Maybe I’ll rewrite this in a more orderly report later. But for now I’m convinced and maybe some of y’all are at least a little bit skeptical about this idea of total amount gold = ?
BTW panned or sluiced and placer gold wasn’t included in the estimate regarding the total of mined gold.
I’ve got a list somewhere that shows the thousands of gold mines around the world (historically and/or presently) that are KNOWN. This doesn’t include ANY streams, rivers, PRIVATE or governmental mining projects, etc. anyway…the figures don’t jive with current estimates.
Basically they don’t really have a clue. They are actually providing figures on gold that is accountable. I can understand that. I just think the statement is misleading. Either way, there’s no doubt that 30’cu. is too low.