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Friday, February 14, 2014

10 Olympic Athletes To Receive Gold Medals Embedded With a Piece of Meteorite

A worker creates a special souvenir Olympic medal with a fragment of the Chelyabinsk meteorite at the MAOK art workshop in Zlatoust, Russia. Photo credit: RIA Novosti / Aleksandr Kondratuk

Ten Athletes fortunate enough to win their competitions at the 2014 Sochi Olympics on February 15 (Saturday) will receive special gold medals containing an outer-worldly material. 

The 10 winners will receive gold medals with a piece of the Chelyabinsk meteor inside. The medals are meant to commemorate the one-year anniversary of the meteor crashing into the central Russian city of Chelyabinsk in the Ural region. 

The medals will be awarded to athletes by the deputy chairman of the Chelyabinsk region, Vadim Yermolaev, according to Pravda. A total of 50 commemorative gold medals have been made. In addition to the 10 to be given to athletes tomorrow, one will remain on permanent display at the Sochi Olympic Park and the remaining medals will eventually be sold to private collectors. The medals were made at the MAOK art studio in the town of Zlatoust.

This link shows a video of the making of the commemorative gold medals from a Russian TV new station.

The Chelyabinsk meteor entered the Earth's atmosphere over Russia at almost 60 times the speed of sound, according to Wikipedia. The light from the meteor was brighter than the Sun. The asteroid explosion released as much energy as an estimated 500,000 tons of TNT, sending a shockwave twice around the globe. It caused widespread damage and injured more than 1,000 people in the Chelyabinsk area. Measuring about 20 meters, it is the largest known natural object to have entered Earth's atmosphere since 1908.

A 112.2 gram (3.96 oz) Chelyabinsk meteorite specimen, one of many found within days of the airburst, this one between the villages of Deputatsky and Emanzhelinsk. Scale cube is 1 cm (0.39 in). Photo source: Wikipedia

All totaled, there will be approximately 1,300 medals awarded for the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics (including those that will be awarded at the Paralympic Winter Games). 

The “podium value” of the gold medal (outside of the 10 commemorative gold medals) is approximately $566. Each gold medal weighs 531 grams with a thickness of 10 mm, and a diameter of 100 mm. If the gold medal was made of solid gold its value would be approximately $21,478, which is why the last time pure gold medals were presented was in 1912. 


The gold, silver and bronze medals for the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics. Photo credit: AP/Dmitry Lovetsky

The gold medals contain 525 grams of silver with a 960 hallmark (beyond the 925 hallmark that International Olympics Committee stipulates) and 6 grams of gold with a 999 hallmark (also a gold medal requirement). 

The silver medals contain 525 grams of silver with a 960 hallmark. Its podium value is approximately $323. The bronze medals are made of copper mixed with zinc and tin (the elements of bronze) with a 460 hallmark. Its value is about $3.25. 

These prices do not reflect the labor and other expenses related to making the medals.

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