Aqua Regia

August 30, 2008 by · 4 Comments 

From Wikipedia by way of Hacker News

When Germany invaded Denmark in World War II, the Hungarian chemist George de Hevesy dissolved the gold Nobel Prizes of Max von Laue and James Franck into aqua regia to prevent the Nazis from stealing them. He placed the resulting solution on a shelf in his laboratory at the Niels Bohr Institute. It was subsequently ignored by the Nazis who thought the jar, one of perhaps hundreds on the shelving, contained common chemicals. After the war, de Hevesy returned to find the solution undisturbed and precipitated the gold out of the acid. The gold was returned to the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences and the Nobel Foundation who recast and presented the medals to Laue and Franck.

Incidentally, Hacker News, which is an offshoot of Paul Graham’s Y-Combinator, is one of my favorite haunts. Great stuff you won’t find anywhere else.