Nicotine is well-known for being the addictive ingredient in cigarettes, which will kill you, but it’s also a very potent poison on its own, with a long and lethal history.
Wired magazine’s Elemental blog tells the tale of the 1850 high-society murder that prompted an enterprising chemist to learn how to detect the signs of nicotine poisoning in a murdered victim.
Elemental’s nicotine post is part of a series in which bloggers write about their favorite toxic chemicals. Here’s BoingBoing’s list of them, in case they drop off the front page of ScienceGeist, the blog that lists them.
Yes, some people have favorite toxic chemicals. My personal favorite happens to be whatever’s in the moth-murdering homicidal death spray that’s keeping the moths from taking over my house.
Incidentally, people are complaining about the way people use the word “poisonous” again, and are pointing out that they usually mean venomous.
I’m a little on the fence about this. Although allowing the words to continue to have two separate meanings might be useful–for greater specificity and clarity of meaning–do we really want to give preference to dictionaries to determine a word’s meaning over the word’s actual common usage? When does misuse become legitimate use?
There are still people complaining that “ain’t” isn’t a legitimate word, when it’s been around for more than two hundred years.
And does anyone really think “Well I’d better not eat that platypus, then” when they hear the critters are “poisonous” rather than being correctly described as “venomous”?