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Every Cloud Has a Silver Lining

March 02, 2012299 view(s)

Silver is an alluring precious metal that, for thousands of years, has captured the interest of people all over the world. The metal is often melted and shaped into various products such as jewelry, silver bullion and other rare coins. Silver has some other obscure usages that make the precious metal all the more interesting.

In 1946, Dr. Vincent J. Schaefer and a team of scientists were involved in a research program at the General Electric Research Laboratory in New York. The experiments that took place involved copious amounts of investigation and researchers hoped to find ways to create artificial clouds in a chilled chamber, the University of Albany (UA) reports.

Through these studies, cloud seeding was developed. Cloud seeding is the process of spraying an aerosol silver iodide into cloud banks to stimulate rainfall. The innovative idea was thought to increase the number of nuclei available in a cloud to turn moisture into raindrops.

For a while, there was growing hope that weather modification through cloud seeding would be possible, but after years of failed attempts, the program never found success. In 2003, scientists at the National Academy of Sciences concluded there is no evidence to support cloud seeding as a viable way to increase rainfall in any given area, according to the Edwards Aquifer Website.

While the program did not succeed in manipulating rainfall, the use of silver in the project was influential. Schaefer partnered with Dr. Bernard Vonnegut, a teacher at the University of Albany, to develop the silver iodide solution, which eliminated the formation of ice in clouds and increased the chance that rainfall would form, reports UA.

It is easy to think of silver as just a valuable piece of metal, but its usages in science have made numerous impacts and advancements in today's world.

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