How is money made?


(phone ringing) – Hi, it’s Doug. Here in the United States, where I live, money is always dark green, like this. But in other countries, money comes in a lot of different colors. This is one of my favorites. It’s money that used to be
used in the Netherlands. Look how colorful that is. Or here’s another favorite example. This one is green, but it’s bright green. It’s an old one from France. It’s not worth anything anymore, but I like it because it has one of my favorite scientists on it. That’s Marie Curie, and those are her chemistry experiments on the back. Someone named Shamsia has
a question about money. Let’s give her a call now. (phone ringing) – Hi, Doug. – Hi, Shamsia. – I have a question for you. How is money made? – That’s a great question. There are lots of ways
that people earn money, and we often call that “making money”. But I’m assuming Shamsia is asking how the actual money itself gets made. This stuff. Cash. Now, have you ever gotten a
chance to use a photocopier? A copy machine. If you have, then you
might have thought of this. If cash is just paper, then why can’t you just use a photocopier,
copy a bunch of money, and then, well, then you’d be rich? You could buy anything you want, right? Think of it. Run out of money? No problem. Just copy more of it. Copy a thousand dollars
here, go to the toy store. Copy another thousand dollars, buy a lifetime supply of candy. That’d be awesome, right? So why don’t most people do that? It’s actually a really
interesting question. Before I say anything more,
take a moment to think about it. Why don’t people just photocopy money so they can have unlimited money? Now would be a good time to
pause the video and discuss. Okay, you ready? Well, it turns out the reason people don’t make copies of money actually has a lot to do with the question
of how we make money. You see, it’s actually against the law for a person to make copies of money. It’s called counterfeiting, and people could even
go to jail for doing it. But the reason it’s against the law is something that’s not obvious. You have to think about it. Imagine if everyone just printed money, however much they needed. If they did that, then all of a sudden, money wouldn’t really be anything special. It wouldn’t be worth anything if there were an unlimited amount of it. That’s why in each country
money is usually made by the government, the people
who are in charge of the laws. The government carefully controls how much money they make each year. When we’re talking about money, you probably know there
are two forms it can take. There are coins. In the U.S., those are things
worth one dollar or less. But I’m guessing that,
when you think of money, you’re probably thinking more of this: cash, or what we sometimes
call paper money. The government doesn’t want money to be easy to make copies of. Otherwise, it would make it worthless. So, when they do print money, they do a lot of things to
make it difficult to copy. For example, even though
we call it paper money, it’s not made of the same
kind of paper we write on. If it were, it would be easier to copy. Also, it wouldn’t last very long. In the United States, money is made from a mixture of cotton and linen, the same materials that many
clothes and towels are made of. It’s just much thinner
than clothing or towels. All right, let’s see how it’s made. Expert artists called
engravers spend months creating detailed portraits by hand and designing each of the different bills. The design is very complicated
and detailed on purpose, so that it’s harder to copy. Look at Alexander
Hamilton on the $10 bill. Even a copy machine
wouldn’t easily pick up some of these little details. Then these designs are
stamped onto the cotton and linen sheets using
special colored ink. After that, it’s cut and stacked before it gets released to the banks. Now, to make it extra
difficult to make copies of, other hidden features are added too. For example, if you’ve
ever held up a U.S. $5 bill to the light, check this out. You see that there? That’s called a watermark. This doesn’t show up if you
were to photocopy the money. It’s very difficult to copy a watermark. Here’s another thing you
can notice on U.S. money. Look closely at the blank areas. You see those little red and blue threads? Those are added into the
cotton and linen mixture long before the designs are
even stamped on with ink. So all of these little
features, the cotton and linen, the watermark, the colored
threads, all of these are designed to make money
really hard to counterfeit. In summary, cash money isn’t something that just anyone can print onto paper. The government carefully
controls how much of it is made and uses special design features that make it difficult
to counterfeit or copy. That’s all for this week’s question. Thanks, Shamsia, for asking it. Now, for the next episode, I
reached into my question jar and chose three questions submitted to me that I’m thinking about answering. When this video is done playing,
you’ll get to vote on one. You can choose from: Who invented trains? Why does snow melt? Or what’s the coldest place on Earth? So submit your vote
when the video is over. I want to hear from all of you watching. There are mysteries all around us. Stay curious, and see you next week.

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