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

Can You Drink Too Much Water?


Ah, water! Drink enough, many insist, and be rewarded with beauty and health. Avoid it and your fate is to dry slowly onto the sidewalk, a dehydrated husk, doomed to watch sadly as wiser, better hydrated friends leave you behind. But how much water is too much water? » 12/01/14 9:40am 12/01/14 9:40am

How Do Fictional Poisons Stack Up To Real-Life Ones?

In books and movies, poisons are basically magic. It's kind of a letdown to read about deliciously evil poisons and then realize they're not nearly as potent in reality as they are in stories. Here are some myths about poison from pop culture — and the less impressive reality. » 9/16/14 11:22am 9/16/14 11:22am

When spring comes round again, let's all go to the Poison Garden

The saddest thing about it being winter is that the Alnwick Garden's Poison Garden is closed until spring. The good news is that we have time to put it on our vacation list. » 12/15/13 1:00pm 12/15/13 1:00pm

The Deadliest Poisons in History (And Why People Stopped Using Them)

Once people figured out they could kill each other with special substances instead of sharp sticks, the proverbial poison cookie was born. However, there are only so many times you can use the same trick. As people caught on to how poisons worked, and moved them to the forefront of investigations, certain poisons fell… » 9/13/12 9:00am 9/13/12 9:00am

Rats are awesome masters of all things poisonous

We recently learned that rats in Africa can use plant poison to kill lions, and their North American counterparts also have a few tricks up their sleeves. Woodrats eat so many different toxic plants, it's impossible to poison them. » 8/09/11 4:08pm 8/09/11 4:08pm

This rat uses plant poison to make weapons that kill lions

The African Crested Rat has figured out a way to kill off the jackals and lions who try to prey on it. This little critter is 21 inches from head to tail, but no one and nothing can afford to take a bite out of it. Between its specially adapted physiology and peculiar behavior, this rat can take out pretty much any… » 8/04/11 7:00am 8/04/11 7:00am

Ten foods in your kitchen that contain gruesome poisons

As part of io9's ongoing attempts to make you a hollow, timid shell of the person you used to be, we try to illuminate all the ways the world is trying to kill you. We've gone over death by asteroid, vampire, and virus, and have finally gotten to death by grocery list. Find out the toxic elements in all your favorite… » 6/10/11 10:00am 6/10/11 10:00am

The bitter taste that keeps you alive

Find out about the foul-tasting compound that prevents people from drinking antifreeze, rat poison, and shampoo. No, common sense isn't enough. » 3/10/11 4:30pm 3/10/11 4:30pm