The Effects Of Japan's 1955 Poison-Milk Coverup Persist To This Day

In 1955, Japanese babies began getting sick. It took a long time — inexcusably long — for the danger to be publicly announced, and as a result, Japan had over ten thousand victims of arsenic poisoning, and over 100 deaths. » 2/10/15 9:05am 2/10/15 9:05am

Hey, Remember When People Used To Eat Arsenic As A Health Supplement?

Probably not, unless you're well over 100 years old. In the 1800s, arsenic began being marketed as a health supplement, even though it had been a known poison for thousands of years. So why were people suddenly eating it on purpose? » 12/30/14 8:00am 12/30/14 8:00am

What Was in "Cantarella," The Borgia's Famous Poison?

If you wanted to be Pope (or stay Pope) in the 1400s, there was only one way to do it. Cantarella was the poison of choice for the Borgia family. But what was in the deadly poison? And why has it become infamous? » 12/09/14 12:55pm 12/09/14 12:55pm

How One Fateful Explosion Gave Us The Bunsen Burner

Robert Bunsen is most famous for inventing the Bunsen burner, which he technically did not invent. What he's not famous for is much more interesting. His most altruistic research, which has saved many lives, very nearly killed him, and led to to the research that gave us the burner. » 10/06/14 6:20am 10/06/14 6:20am

This Chemist's Story Should Become a Movie

James Marsh is an ordinary chemist, just keeping his head down and doing his job. But when he sees a murderer go free, he has to do something crazy. Something like . . . chemistry. » 9/07/14 9:30am 9/07/14 9:30am

Scientists Make Bricks With Sludge Filtered From Arsenic-Laced Water

Arsenic-contaminated water is a massive problem in the developing world. But, even when you filter it out, the toxic sludge that the process produces often gets dumped right back into the water supply. It's tough to dream up a use for arsenic soup, but one research team finally has: They're making bricks out of it. » 3/31/14 4:00pm 3/31/14 4:00pm

There are trace amounts of arsenic in the water supply, and it turns out that even this mild exposure can do lasting damage. In the New York Times today, Deborah Blum explores the dangers of arsenic poisoning in the U.S., and around the world. New evidence suggests it's much worse than we thought. » 9/20/13 4:30pm 9/20/13 4:30pm

Arsenic poisoning may have spawned two different movie monsters

Arsenic is one of the oldest and most well-known poisons in the world. It changed political dynasties and spawned the science of toxicology. It also might be responsible for two different movie monsters. » 7/05/13 3:00pm 7/05/13 3:00pm

NASA's arsenic-life findings debunked in two just-published studies

In 2010, NASA called a press conference to make one of the biggest announcements in scientific history: researchers had discovered an unusually hardy bacterium that could not only tolerate exposure to arsenic, but actually incorporate the poisonous element into its DNA. The team's findings, if correct, would have gone… » 7/09/12 7:15am 7/09/12 7:15am

When arsenic peppermints poisoned nearly 200 people in a single night

Back in Victorian England, they knew how to inflict macabre, terrible death. Case in point: a single mishap led to the death of 25 people and the poisoning of nearly 200 individuals in one night, after they all consumed arsenic-laced peppermint treats. » 6/22/12 3:02pm 6/22/12 3:02pm

New study is very bad news for arsenic-based life

In late 2010, NASA scientists announced the discovery of microbes in California's Mono Lake that used arsenic instead of phosphorus in their DNA. The study quickly came under intense criticism — and now we may be about to refute it entirely. » 1/23/12 9:36am 1/23/12 9:36am

Plastic bottles could save us from arsenic poisoning

How do you deal with a problem like arsenic in drinking water, especially in developing nations where people can't afford the complex purification facilities needed to clean the water to potable levels? It turns out there's a much simpler way. It involves using chopped up hunks of plastic from soda bottles, and… » 9/05/11 10:30am 9/05/11 10:30am

One creature's poison is another one's meat

NASA recently held a press conference announcing the first demonstration that organisms could use arsenic in place of phosphorus in their cells. Not surprisingly, science fiction got there first. » 12/05/10 11:00am 12/05/10 11:00am