Useless information #19 – How to hide two Nobel Prize medals (from the Nazis)


The story is pretty cool but I’m having troubles to find the real person behind it.
I first read it was Neils Bohr but then I started to find sources stating it was George de Hevesy. If any of you have better information please tell me.

Here we go!

During WW2 he left Denmark and headed Sweden but he left behind two Nobel Prize gold medals.

So where did he put the medals so that they were not found?
A vault?
A secret compartment in the wall?
No and no.

In fact, the word “where” is not helping…

He didn’t hide them anywhere.

He dissolved the medals in aqua regia, a mixture of nitric acid and hydrochloric acid.

This is one of the few substances capable of dissolving gold and platinum.

After the war, the gold was recovered by precipitation and the medals were minted again.

The video below shows a gold coin being dissolved in aqua regia.

See you tomorrow for more “Useless information”

Abraham Pais. Niels Bohr’s Times. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1991.
Image source

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