Monday, June 24, 2013

Amazing Silver

Silver coins
Amazing Silver...[Ag]

I am reading a very interesting book entitled "The Disappearing Spoon: And Other True Tales of Madness, Love, and the History of the World from the Periodic Table of the Elements" by Sam Kean. It's a very interesting book. I am no Chemistry wiz and I happen to be very forgetful when it comes to retaining any knowledge of Math, but this book is filled with stories and all kinds of facts about the elements that appear on the periodic table. If you are even remotely interested in the subject you will find this book an enjoyable read. One of the best parts...there's no math! There are so many things this book has piqued my interest in. I randomly chose to learn more about the element Silver today as I read my Kindle on my lunch break at work.

Silver Pitcher

It all started when the author was talking about how silver has germicidal effects. I remembered how when a baby is born the nurses would put Silver solution drops in their eyes to guard against damage from syphillis, if the mother was infected. There is an old wives tale about how keeping water in a silver pitcher keeps it from getting fouled too fast and how pioneers and those travelling west in covered wagon days saved one silver coin to put in the milk bucket so it would prevent the milk from going sour! Hence we see the real effects of this elements germicidal power. I vaguely remembered hearing how silver had been used as a cure for syphillis for adults. (Too bad Henry the VIII didn't know about it, right?) Then I started surfing the net and reading about silver from a variety of web sites.

Did you know Silver has the highest electrical and thermal conductivity of any metal? It is better than copper for this purpose but the cost prohibits common use of silver for this purpose. Silver is stable in air and water but will tarnish and oxidize when exposed to air that contains ozone or Hydrogen Sulfide. Tarnish can be removed with a weak solution of Hydrochloric Acid (HCl).

Silver Bars

Silver has germicidal properties, hence the use in babies' eyes to prevent infection and for keeping the milk from spoiling and for adults who have played the field one too many times...Silver is popularly valued as a precious metal but silver is good for many other reasons, too. It is a soft-whitish transition metal that occurs naturally as native silver and is also found naturally as an alloy mixed with gold and other metals. It can take a high degree of polish and look quite shiny. Silver can also be produced as a byproduct of copper, gold, lead, and zinc refining. The Copperton Mine near Salt Lake City, Utah, produces silver as a result of the copper mined there.

Silver Mirror

Silver is also used in coins, jewelry, tableware (silverware) and as bullion or bars. Industry uses silver as an electronic conductor, in mirrors, to make bullets that stop vampires, and as a catalyst in chemical reactions and in photographic film.
Silver Bullet

Photographic Film

Medical uses include as a germicide, a disinfectant, and as an antiseptic ( in Silver Nitrate solutions). It can also be used in wound dressings to kill infection, as an antimicrobial coating in medical devices, in catheters and breathing tubes to slow or prevent infection. Laboratory use includes staining proteins in gel electrophoresis and in polyacrilamide gels. Scientist Camillo Golgi used a silver stain to study the cells of the nervous system and the cellular component known as the Golgi apparatus.
In dentistry silver is mixed with Mercury to make dental fillings. It is used as a solder for soldering. Silver alloys are also used to make musical instruments, such as the flute. A pigment with a yellow tint is made from silver to color stained glass.

Silver Solder

Tooth Fillings using Silver

Yellow Stain for glass made from Silver

How about a little New-Age silver trivia...silver will help increase blood circulation, it helps detoxify the body, it aids in treating hepatitis, it can be used as a germicide, it's high conductive ability helps channel positive energy into you. It also enhances the positive energy flow of other minerals. Silver energizes other stones especially during a new or full moon ( I knew that, doesn't everybody?) It draws negative energy out and replaces it with positive. Wearing silver promotes healing, good luck, and wards off evil spirits to boot! Silver is amazing and magical! It combines well with turquoise, agate, jet, moonstone and lodestone. If you wear silver with lodestone it is supposed to help your eyesight. So now you know...

Silver Tea Set

Silver and Turquoise Ring

Now hurry off to e-bay and get yourself some silver!! Don't overdose on silver though because the side-effect is turning a yukky zombie-purplish-blue (called Argyria) and it is usually permanent but not fatal!
If you are hooked on Silver and are the curious type try looking up these additional tidbits about wonderful Silver:

Tycho Brahe and the duel where he lost part of his nose and had a silver replacement part
made-that was good because it stopped infection in the wound.
Silver Flute
Stan Jones, known as the Blue Man from Montana who ran for Senate.
Stan Jones
Or Gerhard Domagk and his daughter Hildegard's life threatening strep infection.

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Our Trip to Japan

My son and I just returned back home from a two week trip to Japan. It was a great trip and Japan the second time around was definitely better than the first. There is such a severe culture shock... being in a sea of Asians and you are Anglo, not seeing any letters on signs and buildings only symbols that are unfathomable to you, all kinds of different foods; heck you don't even know what you are eating a good portion of the time! This time though I knew what to expect, and I had my own personal tour guide and translator in the form of my son. Since he had previously lived in Japan for 2 years, he was well equipped to search out where we were trying to go and great with communication skills! 


 We visited the Osaka, Kyoto, Tokyo, Ise, and Nagoya. We went all over with trains and walking. Only took a cab twice and one of those times was to facilitate our trip to the airport on the day home as there is nothing more entertaining than lugging your heavy suitcases around the train station (not)! The other time was to our hotel in Tokyo, right on Tokyo Bay.

Some fun factoids about the trip and Japan in general...

*There's nothing more appetizing than a piece of fish and some raw egg on rice as your breakfast, right? (I couldn't see the allure of that combination, but it is evidently quite popular for breakfast).
Japanese Breakfast

*Japanese people are skinny because they are always going up and down stairs. Everywhere you go there are stairs, up and down, ad nauseatum, and they are long staircases, too. Try a busy rail station with 10 stories, or a Buddist Temple with a hundred stairs up to the shrine. Yeah, stairs everywhere. There are escalators too but not at all stairs, and there are elevators but you have to hunt for them.

Kyoto Station

*The Toyota Pikachu car was awesome.

We saw this Pikachu car at the Toyota exhibit in Tokyo.
 *Squatter toilets really aren't that bad they just take a little getting used to.

*And while we are on the subject of the toilette, we need those fancy schmancy washer type toilets with the heated seat here in the good old USA, too.

*American Restaurants need to get with the program and provide you with some kind of warm washcloth or wet wipe thingy so you can clean up your hands before you eat, like Japanese restaurants do.

*I've never seen so many unagi (eels) in one place in my life as I did at the Nagoya fish market. 

Man holding unagi at the fish market.

*There are approximately 1500 earthquakes a year in Japan.

*There are four writing systems in Japan- Romaji, Katakana, Hiragana, and Kanji. 
Kanji for 'Kyoto'

*It's ok to slurp your noodles while eating in Japan.

*In Japan you can find just about anything in a vending machine.

*There are more rice cookers than ovens in Japanese homes.

*Being in the midst of a Bamboo Forest is really groovy!

Walking through a Bamboo Forest