eli5: how is there only enough gold in the world to fit a cube under the Eiffel tower, when countries have gold reserves, gold jewellery is common and gold is frequently used in industrial appliances?

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eli5: how is there only enough gold in the world to fit a cube under the Eiffel tower, when countries have gold reserves, gold jewellery is common and gold is frequently used in industrial appliances?

In: 18

How big is this cube? It is estimated that there are about 250,000 tonnes of known gold in the world (of which 200,000 tonne have been mined). That could fit into a cube if that cube is large enough.

https://www.visualcapitalist.com/chart-how-much-gold-is-in-the-world/

Most countries don’t have much in the way of gold deposits.

Industry uses very little gold.

We’re still mining it, but they think we’ll run out of gold to mine in 18 years or something, if we don’t find new sources.

Someone years ago posted a [handy infographic](https://demonocracy.info/infographics/world/gold/gold.html) that I’ve seen linked a few times since – it’s helpful to see exactly how valuable and dense gold is. Countries do have gold reserves, but these are maintained in bars or coins, which naturally leave a lot of space between each other. I’m not sure if the cube at the bottom of that infographic would fit neatly under the Eiffel Tower, but it very well could – if you haven’t been, the tower is freaking huge and the space below is a lot to take in. You could fit a surprisingly huge cube in that span.

Keep in mind that while lots of people own gold jewelry and gold is used in electronics and stuff, it’s only a tiny amount, often less than an ounce, used in each case, and it’s often mixed with other metals (meaning it’s less that 24 karat or pure gold), taking down the amount in total. I’d be willing to bet that if you took all of the gold present (jewelry, appliances, etc) in the houses of a few city blocks and melted them, keeping just the pure gold, that amount would fit comfortably into your palm. That’s how little is actually used in everything but *really* extravagant jewelry, or actual coins and bars that are either kept in reserve or valued as investments or collectors’ pieces.

1. The Eiffel Tower is pretty damn big

2. This number is for pure gold

3. Jewelry is not made from pure gold as pure gold is as maliable as soft clay, you can easily press your fingerprint into it.

4. As an example the typical IPhone, while it does contain gold, contains only .034 grams of gold.

5. Worldwide the amount of mined/used gold is estimated at 187,000 metric tons (or 412,264,430 lbs) with another 57,000 (or 125,663,340 lbs) metric tons discovered but unmined.

6. All the pure gold mined in the world would fit into roughly 2 Olympic sized swimming pools.

One other piece not covered in other answers is that big cubes are a *lot* bigger than you think.

Start up Minecraft and lay out 100 blocks. That’s not so hard. It’ll take you, I dunno, a minute or two? And while it’s not *short*, 100 blocks isn’t some ridiculous distance, either.

Now, lay a 100 x 100 square of blocks. That’s a hassle and a half. It’s a minute for each row, so 100 rows is 100 minutes is about an hour and a half. That’s a pretty big undertaking, even if you’ve got all the blocks.

Now, lay out a 100 x 100 x 100 *cube* of blocks. Uh-oh. That’s 100 times your hour and a half, or 150 hours. That’s more time than I’ve invested, total, on just about all the games on my Steam list. It’s a *million* blocks.

A 1000 block line would take you ten minutes or so. A 1000x1000x1000 cube would take you 51 **years** of working on it eight hours a day.

If you make a cube twice as big on each side, you have 8x the volume. Ten times longer, you have *1000* times the volume.