10 Silver Facts

1. The word silver comes from the Anglo-Saxon word seolfor. There is no word that rhymes with the English word silver. It is a transition metal element, with symbol Ag, atomic number 47, and atomic weight of 107.8682.

2. Silver has been known since antiquity. It was one of the first five metals to be discovered. Mankind learned to separate silver from lead in 3000 BCE. Silver objects have been found dating from before 4000 BCE. It is believed the element was discovered around 5000 BCE.

3. The chemical symbol for silver, Ag, comes from the Latin word for silver, argentum, which in turn derives from the Sanskit word argunas, which means shining.

4. The words for "silver" and "money" are the same in at least 14 languages.

5. Coins minted in the United States before 1965 consist of about 90% silver. Kennedy half dollars minted in the United States between 1965 to 1969 contained 40% silver.

6. The price of silver currently is less than that of gold, varying according to demand, the discovery of sources, and the invention of methods of separating the metal from other elements. In ancient Egypt and Medieval European countries, silver was valued more highly than gold.

7. The primary source of silver today is the New World. Mexico is the leading producer, followed by Peru. The United States, Canada, Russia, and Australia also produce silver. Around two-thirds of the silver obtained today is a by-product of copper, lead, and zinc mining.

8. Uses of silver metal include currency, silverware, jewellery, and dentistry. Its antimicrobial properties make it useful for air conditioning and water filtration. It is used to make mirror coatings, for solar energy applications, in electronics, and for photography.

9. Silver is exceptionally shiny. It is the most reflective element, which makes it useful in mirrors, telescopes, microscopes, and solar cells. Polished silver reflects 95% of the visible light spectrum. However, silver is a poor reflector of ultraviolet light.

10. The compound silver iodide has been used for cloud seeding, to cause clouds to produce rain and try to control hurricanes.

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