Week of November 26, 2022

A Metal for Medals


Silver’s chemical symbol on the periodic table is not “Si” (which is silicon), but “Ag” after the Latin “argentum,” meaning “shiny” or “white.”


“Quicksilver” actually describes mercury, which is both silvery in color and the only metal which is liquid at room temperature, making it seem alive, or “quick.”


Silver gets the gold medal for being the most malleable and ductile metal, able to be drawn into a wire one atom (yes, atom) wide.


Since silver platters were traditionally serving dishes used in formal, wealthy settings, to have things “handed to you on a silver platter,” means to receive something without necessarily deserving or earning it in the first place.


However, if that thing brought on a silver platter is a severed human head, this is refers to a harsh punishment based on a grisly Biblical story. In it, King Herod grants his stepdaughter Salome her wish of receiving the head of John the Baptist on a silver platter. John, Jesus’ cousin, had been speaking ill of the queen and was already imprisoned out of concern that he might spark rebellion.


There’s not much actual silver in the sky, but a “silver lining” refers to the light seen around the edge of dark clouds, and is a metaphor for a positive outcome born of a negative one.


“Silver Surfer” is both a Marvel Comics character first introduced in 1966 and an amusing term for senior citizens who are proficient “surfing” the Internet.