Thursday, December 3, 2009

Worth Your Weight In Gold

"I feel like a million." How many times have you heard someone say that? What do you think the human body is worth? Scientists in America and Japan spent extensive time and money determining this answer. They had to exhaust their grants, right? Not that I would have wanted to be there, peering over their shoulders as they pinched with their calipers, stirred their beakers, and analyzed their chromatographic spectrophotometry, but just how did they determine this?

The National Center for Health Statistics provides these figures: the average weight for an adult male in the United States is 189.8 pounds, the average woman weighs 162.8. So how do we approximate the value of a body? The U.S. Bureau of Chemistry and Soils calculated the chemical and mineral composition of the human body. Undoubtedly, they had an excellent rationale for conducting this study. But I find wasting taxpayer dollars hard to stomach.

So, what are those components? Researchers found our bodies contain: 65% Oxygen, 18% Carbon, 10% Hydrogen, 3% Nitrogen, 1.5% Calcium, 1% Phosphorous, 0.35% Potassium, 0.25% Sulfur, 0.15% Sodium, 0.15% Chlorine, 0.05% Magnesium, 0.0004% Iron, and 0.00004% Iodine. Also, trace quantities of fluorine, silicon, manganese, zinc, copper, aluminum, and arsenic. Can you tell me how they measured this stuff so precisely? Do they analyze the ashes of someone's urn?

All the above pretty valuable? Ready to go sell your posterior for posterity? Not so fast, Qbert. You'd be taking up aisle space in the 99 cents store. All of the above totals less than a dollar! If you were to place a value on your skin the same as cowhide, you could raise the ante to $4.50. So how are we going to up the pot to $1,000,000? Let's play with some numbers and see what develops. Our answers will vary depending upon which substances we utilize to base our comparisons.

If you were a tiny thirteen and a half inch tall midget - weighing eight and a half pounds - and your name happened to be Oscar, you would be worth $148,838. That is, if you were solid gold, and not just a thin veneer annealed to Britannium - an alloy of 93% tin, 5 % antimony, and 2% copper - at your core. If you were such a poseur you might hock for $500 at a pawn shop. So, in terms of gold a big guy, male variety would be worth $3,323,473. Women's worth? $2,850,693.

Thus, we really could say we "felt like a million," even if men were only constituted of 36.6% gold. Women would need to be 42.66% gold, due to their lighter weight. Numbers like these reveal a 16.58% disparity. Sadly, the real world gender gap reports an inequity of greater magnitude. Women earn only 75.5 cents to every dollar men earn, according to an analysis of recently released census data conducted by the Institute for Women’s Policy Research.

How about if we were having a really great day? How would platinum affect the picture? Closing spot price on platinum as of today was $1487 an ounce. In the United States people think in the Avoirdupois system. Sixteen ounces to the pound. Precious metals prices are denominated in troy ounces. Troy ounces actually weigh a little more than avoirdupois ounces. To determine values in troy ounces, you have to multiply avoirdupois ounces by .912 to derive a correct total.

So you're having an incredible solid platinum kind of day? You'd be worth $4,118,448. Don't infer that I'm chauvinistic, but for the sake of simplicity we'll limit further calculations of the weight of hypothetical constituents to the male body. What if you were having a stupendous day? Your first child was born, you won the lottery, or your divorce was final? You're have a solid rhodium kind of day? Then you'd be feeling like $7,200,970. That would be a quite a sum to repeat.

You say it wasn't the most memorable day? Just solid palladium? You'd feel like $1,066,170. And silver? Save this for a day you get up on the wrong side of the bed. Your self-worth would be only $53,507. So this is all well and good, we kind of figured as much. But what would you be worth in some unusual forms of comparison? What would your weight be worth priced in the world's most expensive caviar? Truffles? Perfume? Wine? Sports car? Which would be highest?

The Bugatti Veyron, at $1,700,000 is by far the most expensive street legal car available on the market today. It is the fastest accelerating car doing 0-60 in 2.6 seconds. Top speed 253 mph. If you were priced as car parts in this contest, you'd be junked. Your value as scrap would be only $77,692. The world's most expensive over the counter perfume seems to be Clive Christian No. 1, at just under $2,000.00 USD for a 1 oz. bottle. After some number crunching we arrive at $6,073,600.

Want to explore some epicurean delights? Then why not jet to London's Piccadilly? Head for the Caviar House & Prunier, and kindly inquire of the proprietor if they have any Almas on hand. Almas is a product of Iran, and this white Beluga caviar is very rare. This single establishment has exclusive marketing rights to this repast, and offers a kilo of the expensive Almas caviar in a 24-karat gold tin for £16,000, or about $25,000. This time a man tips the scale at $2,156,818.

The world's most expensive wine? A bottle of 1787 Chateau Lafitte sold at Christie's in London in December of 1985 for $160,000. For 18 years this was considered by The Guinness Book of World Records to hold the title. Purportedly from the cellar of Thomas Jefferson, it had the initials "Th.J" etched into its surface. Let's assign the standard volume of a wine bottle to this vessel. 750ml converts to four pounds. You'd be worth $7,592,000. But this wine's record reign is over.

The crown is now worn by 1907 Champagne from the Hiedsieck vineyard in France. In 1916, a cargo of 200 bottles - enroute to the Imperial Family of Russia - was lost at sea in a shipwreck off the coast of Finland. One of those bottles recently fetched $275,000. So if you're planning to party any time soon with any Slavic émigrés claiming to be the dethroned Anastasia Romanov's descendent, be aware. Imbibing this vintage would not only make you tipsy, but you would tip the scales at $13,049,129.

"And our last item up for bids today is," declares the auctioneer as he slams his gavel, glowering glaringly at the gaggle of garrulous gigolos, gastropod-gorging gourmands, giddily giggling sans- gravitas governors, glamourous gals garnished with glittering gems galore, generous genetically-gifted gentlemen, and golden-aged-yet-girlish grand dames. The group grows grave at his grimace as he gulps and gutterally groans "we'll start the bidding at thirty-three G's!"

Macau billionaire - casino owner Stanley Ho - recently bid a record amount at an auction to win a giant white Tuscany tuber. It was discovered by truffle hunter Cristiano Savini, his father Luciano and their "sniffing-like-crazy" dog, Rocco. Ho's winning bid for the highly prized 3.3 pound edible subterranean fungi of the genus Tuber was $330,000. Thus, your weight in tubers, Goober, would top them all at $18,980,000. The proceeds were to go to charity, which might help explain Stanley's largesse.

Now, how about a final bit of trivia? Let's crown the Olympic Champions of Weight Lifting. Is it conceivable any of the following three contenders would have a chance going "mano a mano" with the prior competitors? Our last contestants are - drum roll please - the World's most expensive coin, the World's most expensive stamp, and the World's most expensive baseball card. Who in the world will win? Can you predict the medalists in order? Judges are conferring now in hushed whispers.

The recent sales price of 2.8 million dollars for a very rare Honus Wagner T206 - in near mint condition - has established this sports card as the hobby's most valuable. The T206 set - inserted into cigarette packs - was originally produced from 1909 to 1911. Low initial production runs - it is thought that Wagner was opposed to endorsing the smoking of tobacco - contributed to its scarcity. There are thought to be fewer than 100 Honus Wagner cards remaining. Total $7,754,772,369.

The 1933 Gold Double Eagle, designed by Augustus Saint-Gaudens, auctioned off for the highest price in the world ever paid for a coin, $7,590,020, in 2002. This broke the previous record of $4,140,000 paid at an auction for an 1804 silver dollar. The owner of the $20 gold piece - who shall remain anonymous - chose to engage Sotheby's to conduct the auction as he felt ebay fees were too high. Total: $21,441,276,716. Rock beats scissors, paper beats rock, scissors beat paper.

"And the winner is, fanfare of trumpets please..."

The world's most expensive stamp is a one-of-a-kind 1855 Swedish three-skilling stamp - printed on yellowish-orange stock paper - instead of on green stock. It was purchased at auction in 1996, with a winning bid of $2,300,000. A stamp weighs about a gram, or only 0.0352739619 ounces. So maybe this is kind of like dropping down in weight class just to win a match, but regardless, the title of world's most expensive item per ounce goes to a stamp, with a winning total of $219,843,919,274.

If you ever happen to be in London searching for Almas, and a glistening Bentley limousine pulls up to the curb, disgorging an octegenarian dowager towed by four straining Welsh Corgis on leash who proceed to enter the shoppe with elegant disdain for mere mortals, you don't have to snap immediately to attention and bow formally or curtsy as protocol might demand, merely because you've been smartly jabbed in the ribs by a stunned Brit. It may not be the regnant Queen; they do employ body doubles as security precautions. The dogs are expendable.

If, however, there is a cadre of dark Saville Row-suited men whispering into their MI5 lapel mikes - with suspicious bulges beneath their coats resembling hidden shoulder-holstered Sig Sauer P228's - closely following her every move, she might be authentic. If she then proceeds to utter "Oh, I feel like a million," do not scrutinize her physique with frank appraisal. She isn't talking pounds, you wanker, it's just a euphemism. It all makes for a weighty subject, doesn't it?

Buy Silver. Buy Gold. Save Copper. Start Now. Don't throw away any old Swedish stamps.

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