The sordid history of a perfect poison


18 Responses to “The sordid history of a perfect poison”

  1. cellocgw says:

    Any time you leave a body behind, you’re at risk.   Either dump it, well-weighted, out to sea, or (thanks fictitious Las Vegas CSI team)  seal it in an airtight duffel bag and wait for the anaerobes to completely liquify all but the bones.  Grind them into meal and dump into a storm drain.

    • davidmang says:

      “The best thing to do is dissolving it in strong acid.”

      • jerwin says:

        Hydrofluoric acid is a weak acid, not a strong one.It’s still very toxic, and good at dissolving bone.

        • davidmang says:

          I’m aware; that’s a direct quote from Breaking Bad, albeit one that always irked me.

          HF is nasty stuff. My “favorite” (term used loosely, considering how horrifying this is) trait of that particular acid is that an aqueous solution of it can soak through your skin in seconds and devour the compact bone directly underneath, and you won’t realize it until the bone breaks or it hits the spongy layer and excruciating pain sets in.

          Quite dangerous. Fluoroantimonic is my choice for most terrifying acid though. There’s something that was probably just synthesized “for science.” It protonates hydrocarbon chains.

          • ocker3 says:

             Perhaps their consulting chemist should have suggested they use ‘powerful acid’ rather than ‘strong acid’, although arguably anything capable of dissolving bone is ‘strong’ by a layman’s definitions. The character, arguably, however is not a layman.

        • AnthonyC says:

          It is, however, a remarkably strong weak acid.

          You can’t expect non-chemists (even scientist non-chemists) to know the unintuitive nuances of jargon in other fields. Don’t get me wrong, I get pedantic too sometimes, but this one doesn’t bother me. HF is nasty stuff.

      • AlexG55 says:

        Nope, just ask John George Haigh. Or don’t, they hanged him for murder.

  2. karl_jones says:

    Shellfish toxin, anyone?

    The CIA (and who else?) wanted a gun that fired a sliver of toxin so tiny that the victim would not feel the impact.  The toxin itself must needs be “undetectable”, or damn near as.

    Did it work?  Are assassins so equipped?  Your paranoia is as good as mine ….

  3. robdobbs says:

    Well that sucks.

  4. Jim Nelson says:

    Well, that was a fun ride through a lot of chemical nastiness. I especially like the post about selenium compounds – describing it like ‘six dead skunks, wrapped in inner tubes, and set on fire’ is pretty apt…

  5. PhosPhorious says:

    Suxamethonium?  They should call it Sux-for-you-thonium.

  6. Tynam says:

    On the way home, I was just thinking that I needed an obscure and hard-to-detect poison. Thanks; well timed.

  7. I can think of a death or two that could use a little restro-testing if it can be done on bodies.

  8. Don says:

    This was called succinylcholine when I was in school.  It would be a particularly cruel murder weapon, since the victim would be unable to move, call for help, or breathe, but would be wide awake.

  9. stretchoutandwait says:

    Sux races are a med school favorite (myth or reality – who knows).
    1: dose up.
    2 : Run until you fall over. Then have your fellow med students ventilate you until you recover.
    Winner:  Person that gets the furthest.

  10. pjcamp says:

    There’s an even more interesting post further down the home page:

    Dow Chemical CEO reveals that only 95% of stuff is made of stuff. Apparently, 5% of the stuff in the marketplace contains no chemicals.

    I think I understand how these titans of industry can lose $2 billion overnight and drive the whole entire economy into the weeds. They’re dumb as a bag of hammers.

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