Chemistry of lost gold

Sep 17 2014 Published by under Uncategorized

Funny story... back in 2011, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) seems to have misplaced 50 kg of gold belonging to Crown Financial Solutions.  How much is 50 kg? That's 50 of these shiny bars...

Shiny bars that are worth a lot. [source]

For those adverse to the metric system, 50 kg of gold is about 110.2 lbs. Basically, the UAE just lost a solid gold Kate Moss (which is actually a thing). How much is 50 kg of gold worth?  A cool $2.4 million by 2011 values when gold was $1354.50 per ounce.  Today? The price of gold right now is about $1235.82, so the missing bars are worth about $2.2 million.

50 kg, 110.2 lbs, $2.4 million, $2.2 million... bah! How many atoms of gold are we talking here?!

Elemental gold [source]

If we assume that we've got a total of 50 kg pure gold, this problem is easy peasy! All we need is Au's molecular weight from the periodic table and Avogadro's number.


The UAE misplaced 150,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 atoms of gold. Fear not! There's something like 10^78 - 10^82 atoms in the observable universe, so 10^26 is a drop in the bucket. A very expensive drop...


Chemistry is everywhere. Even divorce.


*Damn sigfigs mean this answer should be rounded by a lot.

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