Silver is more than just a precious metal. It’s also a reflection of ourselves.
Featured above: “What is the purpose of this ‘red room’ in Stranger Things?” Hoo boy. Okay, let’s talk about photography.
Content Warning? When I was writing this episode, I was aware that I’d be touching on some horrific atrocities, thanks to Columbus. I asked friends and family for a quick gut-check on this clause in particular: “whose first instinct upon meeting a new society was to kidnap, rape, mutilate, enslave, and murder them by the hundreds of thousands.”
One person felt strongly that including “rape” was too shocking (but didn’t bristle at the other horrors). Another person felt strongly that “rape” should be included, because “feeling icky” isn’t a good excuse to shy away from history. Another person didn’t have strong feelings either way.
Ordinarily, this is the sort of topic for which I’d include a content warning at the top of the episode — except I don’t actually dive into it here, I just mention its occurrence.
Clearly I thought that maintaining historical accuracy was more important than smoothing over the wrinkles of a man’s troubling legacy. But I’d like to ask you, the audience. Do you have strong feelings on this? I’ll take your opinions into account going forward with the program.
Please comment here, or tweet at me, if you have any thoughts.
Shed A Little Light On Enlightenment: I briefly name-checked Mozi and Al-Kindi in the same breath as Aristotle. Those two were also philosophers, hailing from China and what is today Iraq. They were at least as big a deal as the Greek guy, but they don’t tend to be mentioned as frequently in English literature. To sort of grossly oversimplify, but provide at least a shred of context, Mozi was an egalitarian sort who encouraged intellectual debate, and lived around 400 BCE. Al-Kindi came around about a thousand years later, but was no less influential: He was a mathematician, physician, musician, theologian, logician, astronomician…. If a field of study existed, he studied it. He was also a big reason why Arabic numerals caught on in Europe.
Holy Halides: People knew about the reactivity of silver halides before Schulze, but they all thought that the stuff was reacting to heat, not light. Schulze showed that this was not the case by popping it in an oven, where the silver did not darken, and putting another sample out in the sun, where it did.
Incidentally, I say “halides” several times in the episode, but don’t really explain it. It’s really just another word for “salts,” in general. You can see the same etymological root in Group 17 of the periodic table, the halogens. Because they react so readily with… anything, those elements are the “salt-makers.”
A Better Chemist Than Artist: One of those photographic pioneers, Henry Fox Talbot, was inspired to work on the technology because he was terrible at drawing. His attempts, he wrote, were “melancholy to behold.”
DIY Darkroom: Incidentally, it really is not difficult to get started with old-school darkroom photography. At some point in the past decade, I went down to the local camera store and dropped a couple bucks on chemicals and supplies, taped up the edges around my bathroom door, and developed a couple rolls of Tri-X. (Made by Kodak, coincidentally.) If you have the time and money to spare, it’s a pretty fun project — and it’ll make you a better photographer, too.
Differing Accounts: If you happen to do your own research on Groves, Nichols, and the Treasury’s silver, you might come across a different version of the conversation on weights and measures.
As a researcher, this is frustrating; however, I decided to go with the other version because it was written by Nichols himself — a man who was in the room. This other anecdote appears in every case to be secondhand, and implies that the Treasury officer was astounded not by the unit of measure, but by the sheer amount of silver requested. That’s understandable, but it doesn’t actually appear to be a factor in Nichols’ account of the story.
Just wanted to add that context in case you’re doing some writing of your own.
Happy Halloween: Oh hey, apropos of nothing, one cultural note I completely failed to touch on involves superstition that’s also rather timely. In myth, why does silver injure werewolves? Probably because of the metal’s historical connection to the moon. (I ordinarily wouldn’t source StackExchange for this show, but for show notes on cultural speculation, sure, why not.)
Rhymes With Silver: Enjoy this video, in which Eminem congenially explains the concept of slant rhymes to Anderson Cooper:
So, sure, there might only be one word that rhymes exactly with silver, but don’t let that killer filter bewilder just because “close enough” is unfamiliar.
About That: Not every country in the Western Hemisphere is celebrating Columbus today. For instance, to our Canadian neighbors to the north, happy Thanksgiving!
Unfortunately, that’s also a holiday that has its own sordid history, even separate from the US’s Thanksgiving. Sorry, Canadians. Nobody wins this round.
Feeling Blue: This is a fairly comprehensive news story on Paul Karason, the man who expressed difficulty getting hired due to his blue skin. He is, in every sense, an extreme example of argyria. His skin actually does appear rather Smurf-like. Unfortunately, his is a rather sad story.
Are There Any Exceptions? I cited a story in Wired in this episode: Does Colloidal Silver Work? It’s a good enough story, but also frustrating proof of an axiom I’ve taken a liking to: Headlines that are written as questions can always be answered “no.” Headlines will always be written in the most tantalizing way possible, so if, for instance, colloidal silver did work, the headline would read something like, “The Metallic Cure For Cancer.” Again: It is not.
Too Much Bunk For One Episode: Stan Jones’ conspiracy theories didn’t end with Y2K. Thanks to the wonderful archivists over at C-SPAN, you can watch a video of him saying the following as his closing remarks at a debate:
Now, I risk sounding like a conspiracy theorist, but it’s no longer a theory. What I’m about to say is fact: The secret organizations of the world power elite are no longer secret. They have planned and are now leading us into a one world communist government.”
Beware Of Counterfeits: You may not be inclined to trust a snake oil salesman over the medical establishment, but there are other swindlers you should look out for, too. An alloy of copper, nickel, and zinc is sold under several names, like Mexican silver, German silver, Austrian silver, Nevada silver, Tyrol silver, or sometimes just “silver.” You’ll want to make sure you’re buying the real thing. Fortunately for us, unlike most of the elements we seek out, there’s an entire industry invested in determining the precise silver content of a given sample.
By this point in the series, you can probably rattle off a few elements that take their names from countries — even when it’s not entirely obvious. But we’re not dealing with one of those today. Humans have been collecting silver far longer than we’ve been writing down names.
So enamored have we been with its keen shine that we’ve actually gone the exact opposite direction, and named a country after silver. The land that holds such a bounty of element 47 is Argentina, named after the Latin word for silver, argent.1 No other country on Earth borrows its name from the periodic table.
If only one element can have the honor, that was a pretty good choice. In silver, we see ourselves.
You’re listening to The Episodic Table Of Elements, and I’m T. R. Appleton. Each episode, we take a look at the fascinating true stories behind one element on the periodic table.
Today, we’re bringing out the good silver.
It’s really not fair that silver should be so associated with second place, because by chemical metrics, it takes first place. It’s the most conductive metal of both heat and electricity on the periodic table, and it’s also the most reflective when it comes to visible light.2
Reflectivity is synonymous with mirrors, and indeed, the finest mirrors we can produce are made of glass with a layer of silver on one side. But that wasn’t always the case. It’s only in the past few centuries that we’ve been able to grind glass that was both transparent and wouldn’t crack as soon as it touched molten-hot metal.
We knew that should work in theory. Our old friend Pliny the Elder even mentions glass mirrors in Natural History, but archaeological evidence indicates that these were lumpy, small, and not very reflective. Crafters simply lacked the techniques and technologies required to make high-quality glass mirrors. For many centuries, they remained uncommon and not terribly practical.
That changed when Venetian artisans mastered the craft of glassmaking in the 16th and 17th centuries. The development of clear, high-quality glass helped bring about a golden age of scientific invention — but you can hear all about that in episode 14, Silicon.
So that was one half of the problem solved, but there remained the issue of hot metal cracking glass. Florentine glassmakers founda way to coat glass with low-temperature lead, but that still wasn’t great for reflectivity. It wasn’t until 1835 that Justus von Liebig put all the pieces together to create the first silver-backed mirror.
You might remember von Liebig as the chemist who kept a sample of bromine in his “Cabinet of Mistakes,” but this was one of his more successful endeavors. He perfected a method of spraying a glass pane with a silver solution, coating it with an even layer of silver without breaking.
That was pretty much how all mirrors were produced for over a century.3
The gradual introduction of high-quality glass mirrors had an impact upon society that’s difficult to overstate. Visual arts trended toward portraiture rather than religious images. Improved microscopes and telescopes allowed scientists to understand the world we inhabit in ways no one had ever imagined, causing revolutions in medicine and religion. And once the common people could see themselves within a mirror’s frame, it changed our psychology. No longer were we defined only by our place in the community — we were individuals, in a way we had never seen ourselves before.4 5
It’s most evident in the way people wrote. In personal correspondence, friends began to share their thoughts and feelings, rather than only dryly conveying information. Religious texts emphasized a personal relationship with God, and the first European autobiographies began to appear in the 15th century.
Domestically, homes were constructed with fewer communal spaces in favor of private chambers. Economically, feudalism was slowly replaced with capitalism. Governments did not improve by much, but they at least began to represent the needs of more people than a monarch’s court.
The mirror did not invent the idea of the individual where none had existed before, and it was not the only reason for the rise of individualism in medieval Europe. But our societies and our minds were transformed once we could peer through silvered glass to look ourselves in the eye.
Sometimes you don’t want to see what something looks like right this minute. You want an image that stands still, a record of a single moment in time. Wouldn’t you know, silver happens to be pretty useful there, too.
Cameras are often advertised as the fastest, shiniest technology on the block, whether it’s the camera on a mobile phone or a massive professional body that costs thousands of dollars. Despite that, the camera is quite literally an ancient invention. Some of the most celebrated writers of antiquity, from Mozi to Aristotle to Al-Kindi, mention in their works the pinhole camera. Sometimes called a camera obscura, it simply consists of a tiny hole that focuses a brightly lit scene onto the back wall of a darkened room.
Regrettably, we do not have any photographs of the ancient world. While we might have had the camera, it would be thousands of years before anyone would invent the film.
Johann Heinrich Schulze took the first furtive steps in that direction in 1727 when he showed that certain salts of silver would react when exposed to light. We saw a similar thing with selenium, but rather than generating an electrical charge, the silver compound would visibly darken. Shulze used stencils to write words and sentences in the solution, and if you stretch your definitions a little bit, you could consider those to be the first photographs. But he never tried to make those images permanent, and they would quickly disappear as the entire liquid turned an inky black.
Like all the technologies we examine, no one person got us all the way from Schulze’s parlor trick to the Polaroid. It took the work of dozens over many decades. Joseph Nicephore Niepce figured out how to permanently fix an image to paper; Louis Daguerre made the process profitable. Henry Fox Talbot and John Herschel and Bausch and Lomb and countless other innovators shaped photography as a science, an art, and an industry.6 78 9 10
The entire time, silver was at the heart of the image-making process. Various improvements and tweaks would occasionally change things slightly, but generally, the method remained the same: Beams of light, focused through the darkened chamber of a camera, would strike a film coated in silver salts. Each photon absorbed would cause that silver to react ever-so-slightly, rendering a negative black-and-white image out of microscopic granules of precious metal.
Photographers would fumble around in pitch-black closets, prying that film out of its roll with a can opener and delicately spooling it into a light-proof little tank. The tank would then be flooded with hydroquinone to develop the film, unmasking the lights and darks, followed by acetic acid to bring that process to a halt. A final bath of ammonium thiosulfate ensured the image was permanently fixed to the film and wouldn’t degrade over time. All the while, the photographer would need to maintain a specific temperature and keep accurate time while shaking the tank with their hands.11
Of course, that was only half the process. Negatives in hand, now the photographer would head to the darkroom, using similar means to print those images on eight-by-ten sheets of special paper coated in silver halides.12
Pale yellow and purple liquids swirled together, the acrid smell of vinegar hung in the air, and the slightest error could ruin the whole afternoon.
It’s a far cry from pulling your phone out of your pocket to take a quick selfie.
For ninety-five percent of photography’s history, the practice hasn’t just resembled chemistry — it was chemistry. With acids and bases and a delicate hand, the photographer was not merely representing a scene, but seizing the very photons from that moment in time and hanging them upon a sheet of precious metal. Every frame was a triumph of chemistry — the present expertise of the person behind the camera, and the centuries of experimentation that made it possible.
Darkroom development was how the vast majority of photos were created from the 1920s until the turn of the 21st century, but it’s effectively gone from modern-day photography. You could still create images by that same process today, if you really wanted to, but it would merely be a curiosity or affectation on your part. Nowadays, the field is a miracle of optics, electronics, machine learning, engineering, miniaturization, and image processing — but chemistry has been left behind.
Don’t get me wrong — that’s nothing to complain about. Cheap and powerful digital photography is a mighty force upon our media, our culture, and our governments. But not in the same way that analog photography was during the Cold War.
In 1946, the technicians at Kodak’s headquarters were scratching their heads. The company had recently been inundated with complaints from customers whose pictures were fogged, riddled with black dots.
Kodak’s scientists were among the best and brightest in their fields, so they were pretty familiar with this issue. They had seen it once before, when small amounts of radium contaminated a batch of film. Even a minimal amount of radiation could damage the sensitive silver halide, completely ruining the product.13
Obviously that’s quite a problem when your brand’s good name trades in high-quality film. So Kodak quickly learned where this radioactive contamination was coming from and eliminated it from their supply lines — but that was well before 1946. A new source of pollution must have sneaked its way into their infrastructure.
Kodak employee Julian Webb was particularly bothered by this mystery, and worked his way back to a mill in Indiana. He found that the cardboard packaging produced at this mill was slightly radioactive.14
But it was not the kind of radiation the company was already familiar with. This was, quote, “a new type of radioactive contaminant hitherto encountered.” Webb continued to study the supply chain. By 1949, he managed to connect all those fuzzy dots: “The most likely explanation of the source of this radioactive contaminant,” he wrote, “appears to be that it consisted of wind-borne radioactive fission products derived from the atom-bomb detonation in New Mexico on July 16, 1945.”
That is to say, the world’s first nuclear explosion, the Trinity test, had rained fallout in vast swaths across the United States, in quantities great enough to have effects that were literally visible.
Apparently, Kodak didn’t do much upon discovering this information. Not one more atomic bomb was detonated on American soil for the rest of the decade, so perhaps they wrote it off as a fluke. But this radioactive predicament would once again rear its head in 1951, when the US government began testing hundreds of nuclear weapons at the newly constructed Nevada Test Site.15
Kodak started seeing problems from the very start. A January snowstorm carried more than white powder to the company’s headquarters in Rochester, New York. Despite being located over 2,000 miles away from the Nevada test site, the snow that fell was twenty-five times more radioactive than normal.
Upon learning that nuclear fallout was gently drifting into their hometown, more than one technician panicked. What would this mean, they wondered, for their film?
Of such grave concern was this question that Kodak reached out to the G-men in charge of the whole thing, the Atomic Energy Commission. In turn, the AEC put on its broadest smile, reassuring everyone that there was nothing to worry about. In a front-page New York Times article, government reps emphasized that, “no levels of radiation have been found anywhere, which could conceivably produce any damage to humans, to animals, or to water supply.”16
That might have been good enough for the reading public, but not for Kodak. They still had to deal with damaged film, which, again, was pretty much their entire business. The next month, they threatened the AEC with a lawsuit due to the “considerable amount of damage to our products resulting from the Nevada tests or from any further atomic energy tests.”
Well, the Atomic Energy Commission might have thought they could curb a little bad publicity, but they really did not want to discuss explicit details of top-secret nuclear tests in a civil lawsuit. They immediately offered a compromise: The government would personally provide Julian Webb with schedules, maps, weather patterns, and other details on upcoming tests so Kodak could take the necessary precautions. All they had to do in return was never speak a word of this to anyone.
In no way was this standard operating procedure. The AEC was not in the business of telling anyone outside of the Commission anything about their nuclear tests — including farms and municipalities that were downwind of the test site.
We already know how this story ends. In episode 38, Strontium, we saw how children across the country were absorbing astronomical levels of radioactive material. In nearby St. George, Utah, cancer levels were as much as five times higher than expected, even two decades after atmospheric testing ceased.17
Records show that the government was well aware of the dangers of radioactive fallout.18 In 1948, an Air Force meteorologist advised the government to build their test site somewhere on the East Coast, so radioactive detritus would fall entirely over the Atlantic Ocean instead of the mainland US. The Nevada site was chosen instead because of its proximity to preexisting weapons labs. The government decided that “accelerating the pace of the weapons development program is obviously a characteristic of such desirability that it could outweigh partial deficiencies in other respects.”19
Even discounting the location, something as cheap and simple as public advisories to take iodine supplements could have saved many lives.20
Alas, secrecy took precedence over all other concerns, especially in the earliest days of nuclear weapons testing. It’s impossible to say precisely how far-reaching the resulting public health effects were.
But hey, at least we have no shortage of tack-sharp photographs from the 1950s and 60s.
That’s not the end of Kodak’s curious association with radioactive materials, but we don’t have time right now to discuss the weapons-grade uranium that sat in the company’s basement for thirty years.21 Tune in about fifty episodes from now for that story.
But we’re not quite finished with atomic tales for the day, because silver was critical to success on the opposite side of the Manhattan Project’s veil of secrecy.
General Groves is the biggest S.O.B. I have ever worked for. He is most demanding. He is most critical. … He is abrasive and sarcastic. He disregards all normal organizational channels. … He is the most egotistical man I know. He knows he is right and sticks by his decision. He abounds with energy and expects everyone to work as hard or even harder than he does. … in summary, if I had to do my part of the atomic bomb project over again and had the privilege of picking my boss I would pick General Groves.”
- Major General Kenneth Nichols, The Road To Trinity.
If Groves was arrogant, he had good reason: He had overseen $8 billion worth of domestic Army construction during World War II, leading projects from camps and depots to the Pentagon in Washington, DC. By 1942, he was in charge of building Oak Ridge National Labs in Tennessee, destined to become the epicenter of scientific research on the Manhattan Project.
It was probably the largest exercise in creative problem-solving that the world has yet known, and not just because scientists were working in uncharted intellectual territory. For instance, creating an atomic bomb was going to require several kilograms of uranium-235, millions of times more than anyone had produced by 1942. Any such effort would require a tremendous amount of energy, and that kind of production typically involved the use of copper — lots and lots of copper, to make miles of electrical wiring and powerful magnets.
But there was a snag: copper was also necessary for the production of artillery shells, and it would be rather irresponsible to divert essential materials from that effort. There was a war on, after all.22
But copper wasn’t the only suitable metal for this job. Silver would actually work even better, since it’s the most conductive metal there is. While silver wiring would ordinarily be fiscally imprudent, global war changed those circumstances. The only problem was, the Army would need several thousand tons of silver, and they needed it now. No time to dig it out of the ground.
So on August 3, 1942, then-Colonel Kenneth Nichols met with the only people who could possibly fulfill such a request: representatives from the Department of the Treasury. Now, the Treasury was willing to assist the military, but the gears of their respective bureaucracies didn’t mesh particularly well. Nichols later recounted the absurd scolding he received that day:
[He] asked, ‘How much do you need?’ I replied, ‘Six thousand tons.’ ‘How many troy ounces is that?’ he asked. In fact I did not know how to convert tons to troy ounces, and neither did he. A little impatient, I responded, ‘I don’t know how many troy ounces we need but I know I need six thousand tons – that is a definite quantity. What difference does it make how we express the quantity?’ He replied rather indignantly, ‘Young man, you may think of silver in tons, but the Treasury will always think of silver in troy ounces.’”23
Eventually they figured it out — the answer, incidentally, is about four hundred million troy ounces. Due to the top secret nature of the Manhattan Project, the Army couldn’t explain why they needed such an incredible amount of silver, or how they were going to use it. Fine, said the Treasury, but they weren’t going to just give it away. Every single troy ounce of those 6,000 tons needed to be returned, in its original form and quality, within five years of receipt.
It was a deal. Four hundred thousand bars of silver bullion thus began their journey from the Treasury’s facility in West Point, New York, to refineries in New Jersey, then to magnet factories in Wisconsin, and finally to Oak Ridge National Labs in Tennessee, where they generated the exceptionally strong magnetic fields necessary to refine the uranium-235 inside the first atomic bombs.24
Each step along the way, the metal was escorted by armed guards and meticulously accounted for. They would catch silver drill dust with sheets of paper, scrape excess metal off the insides of machines, and vacuum workers’ coveralls to recover every sliver of silver humanly possible. These efforts were so successful that the military actually wound up with a million pounds more silver than they had borrowed from the Treasury — likely recovered from years worth of prior silver processing, like finding loose change between old couch cushions.25
At its peak, nearly one percent of all electricity generated in the United States was flowing through those silver coils every month. In total, the amount of energy spent enriching this uranium was equal to one hundred times that released by the bomb detonated at Hiroshima.26 The choice of material didn’t just conserve copper vital to the wartime effort. By using a metal that was not being strictly rationed, they also helped maintain the secrecy that was so critical to the nuclear program.
The six thousand tons originally requested eventually ballooned to 14,700 tons — enough to create a solid cube of silver thirty-five feet on a side — and it took well over five years to return to lender. The last bar of bullion was finally trucked back to West Point in June, 1970. When the books were closed, only zero point zero three four percent of material had been lost over the many miles and 25 years it had been in service.
For the past fifty years, those bars of silver have sat untouched in the back of a vault at the West Point Mint. There are no known plans to use that metal to mint a coin commemorating the Manhattan Project, but maybe if you contact someone in Congress, they’ll consider it. It’s hard to imagine a more appropriate sample of silver for your element collection.
Until that day comes, you obviously have plenty of other options available to you. After all, the pursuit of silver has been the influence behind some of the most significant events in human history.
For example: by sheer coincidence, this episode is being published on the second Monday in October. Today, the United States and many other countries recognize Columbus Day as the celebration of a man who miscalculated the size of the Earth, who never once stepped foot on North American soil, and whose first instinct upon meeting a new society was to kidnap, rape, mutilate, enslave, and murder them by the hundreds of thousands.27 He also opened the floodgates to a truly global culture and economy, fueled in large part by a Spanish lust for silver, which they tore from the Americas in exchange for nothing. But! We won’t be talking about that today, because that would be to retread ground we covered in episode 3, Lithium.
Avarice, however, is not the only reason people have hoarded element 47. There’s also foolishness.
For many years, con artists have been selling colloidal silver as a dietary supplement, vitamin, or cure for everything from arthritis and herpes to cancer and HIV. Silver can have some antiseptic properties, like copper does, but none of these claims are true.28 In fact, following that advice can cause a striking medical condition. Argyria, which is directly caused by consuming too much silver, makes one’s skin turn a bluish grey. The color is more often akin to the pallor of a corpse rather than the vivid hue of a Smurf.29
One of the more well-known sufferers of the condition is Stan Jones, a Montana politician who began taking silver supplements prophylactically in advance of the Year 2000. He believed that once the clocks struck midnight, society would collapse, leading to a shortage of antibiotics. That did not occur, but colloidal silver does tend to be especially popular with people who worry about such things.30 31
The condition doesn’t technically do any harm — at least, not in any medical sense. But another man with the condition, Paul Karason, described how argyria can still make one’s life more difficult. “People are rather reluctant to hire blue people,” he said in a television interview.32
But as an element collector, you really have nothing to worry about. From mirrors to photographs to nationalities here’s nothing dangerous about seeing yourself in silver — just see to it that there’s no silver inside yourself.
Thanks for listening to The Episodic Table of Elements. Music is by Kai Engel. To learn which words rhyme with silver (and orange), visit episodic table dot com slash A g.
Next time, we’ll add cadmium to our palette.
Until then, this is T. R. Appleton, reminding you that sometimes, even mushroom clouds have a silver lining.33
- Etymonline, Argentina.
- The Royal Society Of Chemistry, Silver.
- TIME Magazine, Manufacturing: Done With Mirrors. February 5, 1940. This is a curious bit of writing. I also found it published in a rural Michigan newspaper in November 1941, verbatim. I’d love to get more info on this piece, but alas, it’s not a rabbit hole I have time to dive down now.
- Lapham’s Quarterly, The Mirror Effect. Ian Mortimer, November 9, 2016. Excerpted from Millennium: From Religion to Revolution: How Civilization Has Changed Over a Thousand Years by Ian Mortimer.
- The Cut, Mirrors Turned People Into Individualists. Drake Baer, November 11, 2016. This is an additional source, but leans heavily on Mortimer’s book, cited previously.
- The Telegraph, Capturing An Image For All Time. June 22, 2000.
- The Science History Institute, Distillations: Silver And Sunlight. Jane E. Boyd, July 3, 2010.
- The Telegraph, Capturing An Image For All Time. June 22, 2000.
- Silver, p. 21. Susan Watt, 2003.
- Maison Nicephore Niepce, The History Of Photography.
- Personal experience.
- This was X-ray film, not typical photographic film, but both are made using silver.
- Popular Mechanics, When Kodak Accidentally Discovered A-Bomb Testing. Matt Blitz, June 20, 2016.
- Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty Organization, The United States’ Nuclear Test Programme.
- The New York Times, Increased Radiation Found In East; Laid To Atom Tests, Held Harmless; RADIATION HIGHER, CALLED HARMLESS Slightness Emphasized. Robert K. Plumb, February 3, 1951. Available for NYT subscribers only, I’m afraid.
- JAMA, Cancer Incidence In An Area Of Radioactive Fallout Downwind From The Nevada Test Site. Carl J. Johnson, MD. January 13, 1984.
- Bulletin Of The Atomic Scientists, Worse Than We Knew. Pat Ortmeyer and Arjun Makhijani, November 1997. Full text available for free here.
- Health Effects Of Low-Level Radiation, p. 1415. 1979.
- Imaging Resource, Not-So-Secret Atomic Tests: Why The Photographic Film Industry Knew What The American Public Didn’t. Tim Barribeau, February 26, 2013.
- CNN, Kodak Confirms It Had Weapons-Grade Uranium In Underground Lab. Dugald McDonald and Brian Todd, May 16, 2012.
- American Scientist, From Treasury Vault To The Manhattan Project. Bruce Cameron Reed, January/February 2011.
- A Call To Arms: Mobilizing America For World War II, p. 731. Maury Klein, 2013. This quote is originally available in Nichols’ own book, and would be the better source, but that page is not available in Google Books.
- The American Physical Society, Kilowatts To Kilotons: Wartime Electricity Usage At Oak Ridge. Cameron Reed, Spring 2015.
- Manhattan District History, Book V – Electromagnetic Plant, Volume 4 – Silver Program.
- Phys.org, Silver Crucial For WWII Bomb. Phillip F. Schewe, January 13, 2010.
- Language Arts, Once Upon A Genocide: Christopher Columbus In Children’s Literature. William Bigelow, February 1992.
- Wired, Colloidal Silver Turns You Blue–But Can It Save Your Life? Mallory Pickett, October 5, 2017.
- Annals Of Dermatology, A Case Of Argyria Following Colloidal Silver Ingestion. Hyok Bu Kwon, M.D. et. al, August 2009.
- BBC News, True-Blue For Senate. October 3, 2002.
- The Washington Post, A True Blue Libertarian. Blaine Harden, November 12, 2006.
- Inside Edition, Why This Man’s Skin Turned Blue.