Behind the lj-cut are questions on basic science, cameras, money, socialites, flight times, post-traumatic stress disorder, Eastern European names, and leather jackets.
The story is set in 1937 or thereabouts, if that helps.
1. So, in this story, an investigator-type character brings a mysterious earring to an inventor character, and the earring turns out to have an orichalcum charm in it (the people of Atlantis were supposed to have used orichalcum for all kinds of awesome purposes). The charm doesn't bend when it's bitten, like gold does, and it gives off a big-flash-of-light-type reaction when it comes in contact with silver (and even bigger reactions to other metals, but that's much later in the story). The resident inventor character has to explain why he thinks it's a pure metal heretofore unknown to science. An explanation that's BS but not laughably so (you know, something on the scale of Star Trek's "we can teleport because we fixed the Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle, so there!") would be a great help.
2. Cameras! I need to know what kind of camera and film were cheap but generally reliable around '34-35, since I have a character who needs one. (Also, would it be all right to say that a photographer could set up a darkroom in the cellar of a house if she had the right basic chemicals, or would it be a better idea for her to rent out time at someone else's professional darkroom? Have people ever done the renting thing before?)
3. How small of a salary, in 1937, would be just enough for a single woman to pay her share of rent at a boarding house, buy cheap film, and occasionally get a secondhand suit?
4. So if you've got a character who needs to kick around with the creme de la creme occasionally, but doesn't really have a job or a title, what's the best way to get them an invite to classy parties? Would the whole "oh, my family is old money" tactic work, or might it just be better to imply that this person Has Some Connections in Hollywood?
5. How long would it have taken a small plane in '37 to cross the Atlantic (America to Europe), and where would they have had to stop for fuel if at all?
6. I'm fairly sure that post-traumatic stress disorder wasn't acknowledged as a serious condition until recently, but I do know that guys who came back from war and had nightmares, flashbacks, trouble adjusting, et cetera were "shell-shocked". Was shell-shock thought of as a serious problem in its own right, or was it just thought of as something that would go away with time?
7. I need some good Eastern European surnames, preferably sort of Russian- or Hungarian-sounding.
8. Okay, finally--how long would a really good leather jacket last? Could one conceivably last for fifteen years or more, if it took some abuse but was otherwise treated well?
Thanks in advance. Rock on, you knowledgeable people. ^__^