Figure of the month: 6 milligrams

News Arnulf Hinkel, financial journalist – 02.05.2018

A gold wedding ring is as much a symbol of the importance of the institution of marriage for two lovers as it is a symbol for the permanence of their marriage. However, what has proven to be less durable is the wedding ring itself: as the Austrian scientist Georg Steinhauser of the Vienna University of Technology found out, a gold wedding ring loses about 6 milligrams in weight every single year.

A scientific paper on gold loss

One week after Georg Steinhauser got married, he determined the exact weight of his wedding ring. For an entire year, from July 2006 until July 2007, he weighed his wedding ring every Thursday and documented his findings. On average, the gold ring lost 0.12 milligrams in weight every week simply due to wear –  the permanent rubbing of the precious metal against the ring finger. Steinhauser then calculated that in Vienna alone, about 2.2 kilograms of gold "disappear" this way on a yearly basis, given that some 300,000 married couples live in this city. His scientific work on the subject was published in 2008 under the title "Quantification of the Abrasive Wear of a Gold Wedding Ring" in the "Gold Bulletin" issue 41, published by the World Gold Council.

From "perishing gold detective" to Fukushima researcher

In 2016 Steinhauser, then professor at the Leibniz University in Hannover, Germany, was awarded the Heinrich Stockmeyer Science Prize for his work on the first study on the contamination of various foodstuffs and drinking water in the wake of the nuclear disaster in Fukushima. Together with two colleagues, he examined and evaluated more than one million food samples and published their findings in the highly regarded study "Analysis of Japanese Radionuclide Monitoring Data of Food Before and After the Fukushima Nuclear Accident" in the publication "Environmental Science & Technology".

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