23 Oct 2019

Silver - a popular noble metal

From Elemental, 8:00 am on 23 October 2019

Argentina and the Rio de la Plata both take their name from the element silver, whose chemical symbol Ag comes from the Latin argentum.

Silver has always played second fiddle to gold as it is not always found as a pure metal in nature. It is very prone to tarnishing, although that hasn’t stopped its use in jewellery, cutlery and coins. Sterling silver is silver alloyed with copper to harden it.

Silver salts used to be widely used in photography and they also have use in transition glass lenses which darken in the sun.

While silver nanoparticles have antimicrobial activity, consuming too much silver for its supposed health benefits is not a good idea; United States political candidate Stan Jones has famously blue skin after many years of consuming home-made colloidal silver. This condition is known as argyria, says Professor Allan Blackman from the Auckland University of Technology, in episode 76 of Elemental.

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Photo: RNZ

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The Elemental podcast is celebrating 150 years since the periodic table was first published by Russian chemist Dmitri Mendeleev.

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Professor Allan Blackman is at Auckland University of Technology.