poison gas

Speakeasy Science

Tag archives for poison gas

Remembering mustard gas

Last week, the U.S. Army announced that its excavation old chemical munitions dump – unfortunately located in one of Washington D.C.’s more elegant neighborhoods – had turned up remnants of two of the ugliest weapons developed in World War I. By which I mean compounds used in the production of mustard gas and the arsenic-laced…

Digging up our chemical past

In the forensic laboratories of the 1920s, a chemist checking for poison could make a beaker glow with the brilliance of a gemstone.  Color tests, as they were called, derived from the fact that many toxic materials turn a specific hue if exposed to the right mixture of heat, cold, acid and base. The results…

Snowstorms and poison

Just before this weekend’s stunning snow storm arrived in the Mid-Atlantic, poison control centers started issuing chirps of alarm. I thought of them as chirps –  something like the peeping alarm calls  of  small birds –  because they sounded so faint against the other looming worries – adequate food supplies, airport closures, shut downs in…