Wednesday, February 24, 2010

A Periodic Lent - Silver

Today let us consider the metal called "silver" which has been known throughout human history since it is bright and shiny - the metal itself can be found in the native state. It is mentioned many times in the Bible, and it has a very particular role in the Passion:
Then went one of the twelve, who was called Judas Iscariot, to the chief priests. And said to them: What will you give me, and I will deliver him unto you? But they appointed him thirty pieces of silver. [Mt 26:14-15]
Besides its use in coinage and jewelery, it is important because of its high conductivity but especially because certain compounds are sensitive to light. These perform an amazing change from white to black upon exposure to light, which enables them to be used as the basis for photographic film - the black is actually metallic silver in a colloidal form. The chemical reaction is irreversible - but let us recall, as Judas refused to recall, that the blackness of sin is not irreversible:
Thou shalt sprinkle me with hyssop, and I shall be cleansed: thou shalt wash me, and I shall be made whiter than snow. [Ps 50:9]


At 25 February, 2010 17:20, Blogger Sheila said...

Don't forget all the Biblical references to God as the refiner of silver!

At 27 February, 2010 19:30, Blogger Dr. Thursday said...

Oh yes, and they are quite wonderful:

And he shall sit refining and cleansing the silver, and he shall purify the sons of Levi, and shall refine them as gold, and as silver, and they shall offer sacrifices to the Lord in justice.
[Mal 3:3]

And having read Biringuccio's Pirotechnia and found out how one purifies silver (in the ancient and medieval times) it is quite horrifying. But then I've said elsewhere that it's heaven that has the fire, and not the other place.

Ahem. But really - it's almost as if you have eavesdropped on my plans, for I was very close to working up something (deriving from the "Tree of VIrtues") which would show our Lord as working in various disciplines... I may have to do it anyway, Lent or no Lent - but I really need to get a better reproduction of that image before I proceed very far, there are many details to be settled. Soon, I hope...

The pesty thing for me at present is that the Tree plays a role in my fiction as well as my non-fiction... oh my. But then that's why I keep the "Metabolic Processes" Chart on my wall. As a far better man than me once said, "Somebody has to do the hard jobs."


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