Published on Feb 26, 2015VX — IUPAC name O-ethyl S-[2-(diisopropylamino)ethyl] methylphosphonothioate — is an extremely toxic substance that has no known uses except in chemical warfare as a nerve agent. It is a tasteless and odorless liquid. As a chemical weapon, it is classified as a weapon of mass destruction by the United Nations in UN Resolution 687. The production and stockpiling of VX was outlawed by the Chemical Weapons Convention of 1993.
The VX nerve agent is the best-known of the V-series of nerve agents and is considered an area denial weapon due to its physical properties.
Ranajit Ghosh, a chemist at the Plant Protection Laboratories of the British firm Imperial Chemical Industries (ICI), was investigating a class of organophosphate compounds (organophosphate esters of substituted aminoethanethiols). Like Gerhard Schrader, an earlier investigator of organophosphates, Ghosh found that they were quite effective pesticides. In 1954, ICI put one of them on the market under the trade name Amiton. It was subsequently withdrawn, as it was too toxic for safe use. The toxicity did not go unnoticed, and samples of it had been sent to the British Armed Forces research facility at Porton Down for evaluation. After the evaluation was complete, several members of this class of compounds became a new group of nerve agents, the V agents. The best-known of these is probably VX, assigned the UK Rainbow Code Purple Possum, with the Russian V-Agent coming a close second (Amiton is largely forgotten as VG).
The Patriot novel series describes the use of VX by rebel forces against government officers.
“It’s in our fallen, sinful nature for tyrants to rise up in every nation. And unfortunately, it’s also in our nature that the vast majority in every nation is either too stupid or too apathetic to do anything about it until the tyrants have put up their barbed wire and spilled a lot of blood.” - Protagonist Todd Gray, in Patriots
"Chemists know it as Tris(2,3-dibromopropyl) phosphate." Jill Rosenbaum. @jrosenbaumdc @nyt
"...To frame the issue, the video goes back to the early 1970s and a controversy that older Americans may recognize from a single word: Tris. Chemists know it as Tris(2,3-dibromopropyl) phosphate. Under the shorter sobriquet, it gained national fame as a flame retardant in children’s pajamas. Its purpose was to buy precious seconds that, in a fire, might spell the difference between survival and death.
But fame turned to notoriety later that decade when research by two scientists, Arlene Blum and Bruce N. Ames, concluded that Tris is a mutagen, a gene-altering agent. The federal Consumer Product Safety Commission, a new agency in the ’70s, promptly prohibited its use in the sleepwear. Even though the courts then struck down the ban, children’s clothing manufacturers in effect enforced it by agreeing to keep that form of Tris out of their products. They then did the same with a new version of the compound, chlorinated Tris. But chlorinated Tris itself was never banned. As time passed, it made its way, along with an array of other chlorinated and brominated flame retardants, into the furniture found in most American homes...."
Snake venoms are some of the most complex multifunctional mixtures of pharmacologically active proteins and polypeptides interfering in various physiological systems (Kini, 1997). They have been studied extensively for many years in search of the molecular basis of toxicity, have provided important biological tools to investigate vital physiological processes, and even have been used as therapeutic agents (Koh and Kini, 2012).
It is inconceivable that some of the most toxic components of the snake venoms are phospholipase A2 (PLA2) enzymes, for they also have extremely important biochemical role in physiological processes such as maintenance of membrane homeostasis, membrane repair, cell proliferation, inflammation, signal transduction, etc. Snake PLA2enzymes provoke diverse pharmacological effects: neurotoxicity, myotoxicity, cardiotoxicity, anticoagulant effects, hemolytic activity, hemorrhage, organ, or tissue damage (Kini, 1997). There has been a burst in the available data on PLA2 superfamily of enzymes, changing our understanding of the structure–function relationshipby revealing completely new interactions, new effects, and new challenges to scientists (Kini, 1997, 2003, 2006; Six and Dennis, 2000; Murakami and Kudo, 2002, 2004; Wilton and Waite, 2002; Schaloske and Dennis, 2006; Dennis et al., 2011).
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To most of us, medicine comes from the chemist. There we can stock up on blister packs of pills, tubes of ointments and bottles of innocuous-looking liquid. But the original sources of drugs can be much more exotic than your local pharmacist. The first HIV drug, for example, came from a sea sponge, while a heart disease drug is derived from the foxglove plant.
You can’t get much more exotic than venomous animals and that’s where scientists are turning their attention. Venoms are cocktails made up of between tens and hundreds of different toxins, usually proteins and smaller chains of amino acids similar to proteins called peptides, along with organic molecules, such as hormones, antibiotics and other compounds that are involved in the metabolic functions of living things. Venoms help animals to immobilise or kill prey, or neutralise predators in self-defence.
To qualify as venom, as opposed to poison, the toxin mixture must be ‘injected’ into another animal. Around 150,000 animal species have evolved the machinery to produce venom and inject it into prey. Some are familiar: snakes with their fangs, or bees and their stings. Others are less well known: the male duck-billed platypus with the venom-bearing spurs on its back legs; the toxic saliva of particular types of shrew; the beautiful but deadly cone snail releasing its harpoon-like proboscis into tiny fish on the seabed…
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As sea levels rise and shorelines erode, the hunt is on for ways to protect the millions of people that live in seaside communities. But engineers with an eye on a wetter future might want to look to the past for inspiration. As Ben Guarino reports for the Washington Post, an innovation from ancient Rome might hold clues to creating a more durable sea wall.
Saltwater corrodes modern concrete within years. But the concrete used by ancient Romans doesn't suffer this same issue. Romans erected sea walls and piers roughly 2,000 years ago, and many still stand strong in Italian waters. Now a new study in the journal American Mineralogist explains why.
Scientists analyzed the chemical makeup of pier pieces from locations throughout Italy and assessed historical writings about ancient Roman sea structures to learn more about the tough material. This analysis suggests that the materials undergo a rare chemical reaction.
Read more: SMITHSONIAN
Ancient Roman Concrete Outperforms Our Own and Science Only Just Worked Out Why: FOX NEWS TECH
Roman Concrete May Be Key to Protecting Cities From Rising Sea Levels: CLEANTECHNICA
WhyRoman Concrete Still Stands Strong While Modern Versions Decay: THE GUARDIAN
BGRAs Russian gold hunters sifted through rocks they came across something entirely more valuable, a meteorite found to host an alien mineral we have yet to document.
The mineral was found in the Uakit meteorite, which was named for the tiny town in eastern Russia where it was found. There are over 4,000 documented minerals found both on Earth and in space. The mineral uakitite can be added to that list, a mineral never found before on Earth and born under extreme temperatures in space.
From the coasts of Indonesia to the rainforests of Peru, venomous animals are everywhere―and often lurking out of sight. Humans have feared them for centuries, long considering them the assassins and pariahs of the natural world.
Now, in Venomous, the biologist Christie Wilcox investigates and illuminates the animals of our nightmares, arguing that they hold the keys to a deeper understanding of evolution, adaptation, and immunity. She reveals just how venoms function and what they do to the human body. With Wilcox as our guide, we encounter a jellyfish with tentacles covered in stinging cells that can kill humans in minutes; a two-inch caterpillar with toxic bristles that trigger hemorrhaging; and a stunning blue-ringed octopus capable of inducing total paralysis. How do these animals go about their deadly work? How did they develop such intricate, potent toxins? Wilcox takes us around the world and down to the cellular level to find out.
Throughout her journey, Wilcox meets the intrepid scientists who risk their lives studying these lethal beasts, as well as “self-immunizers” who deliberately expose themselves to snakebites. Along the way, she puts her own life on the line, narrowly avoiding being envenomated herself. Drawing on her own research, Wilcox explains how venom scientists are untangling the mechanisms of some of our most devastating diseases, and reports on pharmacologists who are already exploiting venoms to produce lifesaving drugs. We discover that venomous creatures are in fact keystone species that play crucial roles in their ecosystems and ours―and for this alone, they ought to be protected and appreciated.
Thrilling and surprising at every turn, Venomous will change everything you thought you knew about the planet’s most dangerous animals.
Christie Wilcox Twitter
The industrial revolution of the 19th century brought both certain economic stability for the middle class as well as the means to produce what had been luxury items on an affordable, mass scale.
More and more people were drawn to the acquisition of everyday items that were also works of art. One of the types of goods where this was especially true was tableware. China of the time was often heavily decorated with painted motifs and gold or silver rims.
Glasswork could be downright baroque. It was often carved, painted, or engraved and could be found in an ever-increasing array of colors.
Producers of glasswork could achieve remarkable results by adding metal salts or other compounds to the glass while it was in its molten state.
Interestingly enough, one of the compounds that started being used in the 1800s was uranium.
Living things are star stuff. Other than hydrogen, which comes from the Big Bang, which marked the birth of the universe, the familiar elements of which flesh is composed—carbon, oxygen, nitrogen and so on—were created by the energy-releasing process of nuclear fusion that powers stars. But fusion has its limits. The balance of forces inside an atomic nucleus means that creating an element heavier than iron (number 26 on the periodic table) consumes energy, rather than releasing it. Further up the table, beyond lead (number 82), nuclei tend to fall apart spontaneously. In other words, they become radioactive.