By John Emsley
Used to be Napoleon killed by way of the arsenic in his wallpaper? How did Rasputin live on cyanide poisoning? Which chemical compounds in our surroundings pose the most important probability to our overall healthiness at the present time? In The components of Murder, John Emsley solutions those questions and gives a desirable account of 5 of the main poisonous elements-arsenic, antimony, lead, mercury, and thallium-describing their deadly chemical houses and highlighting their use in essentially the most recognized homicide circumstances in history.
during this interesting e-book, we meet a who is who of heartless murderers. Mary Ann Cotton, who used arsenic to homicide her mom, 3 husbands, a lover, 8 of her personal teenagers, and 7 step youngsters; Michael Swango, who can have killed as many as 60 of his sufferers and several other of his colleagues through the twenty years he practiced as a physician and paramedic; or even Saddam Hussein, who used thallium sulfate to poison his political competitors. Emsley additionally indicates which poisonous components can have been in the back of the insanity of King George III, the delusions of Isaac Newton, and the unusual demise of King Charles II. additionally, the e-book examines many modern-day environmental catastrophes, together with unintended mass poisonings from lead and arsenic, and the Minamata Bay catastrophe in Japan.
Written through a number one technology author, recognized for his wisdom of the weather and their curious and colourful histories, The components of Murder deals an attractive mix of actual crime stories and curious technological know-how that provides as much as an addictive read.
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Extra resources for The elements of murder. A history of poison
It was said that if this was sprinkled on other metals, along with the addition of mercury, it would transform the metal into gold. Of course they were wrong. Antimony sprang to prominence quite openly in the 1400s when it became an essential part of the new craft of printing. Molten antimony has a unique chemical property of expanding as it solidiﬁes, and by adding it to molten lead it produced a cleaner type face. This property of antimony had also been appreciated in the ancient world, where it was used to produce ﬁnely cast objects.
A 21-year-old woman who injected 30 g m e rc u ry p o i s o n s u s a l l 37 of metallic mercury into her thighs survived as a result of being given the antidote dimercaprol (see Glossary). Liquid mercury may be a metal but it is also a volatile liquid and in the form of a vapour it can be much more dangerous. Admittedly mercury does not evaporate like water or other common solvents, but enough mercury passes into the air to make it dangerous to breathe. The great scientist Michael Faraday ﬁrst demonstrated the volatility of mercury, and we now know that the evaporation rate of mercury from the surface of the liquid is 800 mg/m2/hour.
He said that ﬁllings constituted the largest non-occupational source of mercury in the general population, and speculated that mercury might be involved in Alzheimer’s disease, the brains of whose victims were reputed to have more mercury than normal. Research had been carried out on sheep whose teeth were drilled and ﬁlled with mercury amalgam. They were then monitored and some disturbing ﬁndings came to light. For example, a sheep that was pregnant was found to pass mercury to its developing foetus, and there it tended to concentrate in the foetus’s liver.