What is VX and safe use of VX

VX is a chemical nerve agent, discovered in the 1950s by ICI chemist Ranajit Ghosh.

Like Gerhard Schrader, an earlier investigator of organophosphates, Ghosh found that they were quite effective pesticides. In 1954, ICI put one of them on the market under the trade name Amiton. It was subsequently withdrawn, as it was too toxic for safe use. The toxicity did not go unnoticed, and samples of it had been sent to the British Armed Forces research facility at Porton Down for evaluation and several members of this class of compounds became a new group of nerve agents, the V agents. The best-known of these is probably VX, with the Russian V-Agent coming a close second (Amiton is largely forgotten as VG). This class of compounds is also sometimes known as Tammelin’s esters, after Lars-Erik Tammelin of the Swedish National Defence Research Institute. The name is a contraction of the words “venomous agent X”.

VX can also be delivered in binary chemical weapons which mix in-flight to form the agent prior to release. Binary VX is referred to as VX2, and is created by mixing O-(2-diisopropylaminoethyl) O′-ethyl methylphosphonite (Agent QL) with elemental sulfur (Agent NE) or by mixing with sulfur compounds.

VX and similar nerve agents (Sarin etc) are liquid at room temperature and pressure, to make them airborne requires atomising the liquid. VX is a potent poison which is stable for a long time, so there was a military interest in using it to deny access to an area, however many countries (not DPRK / North Norea) have signed treaties agreeing not to use of the substance as a weapon.

News reports this morning were saying that the assassins were akin to suicide bombers in dealing with such a dangerous substance, but if exposure could be limited, for example forming the VX on the target, then the risk from the VX agent could be limited, and the main risk would be capture. In Malaysia being convicted of murder automatically results in the death penalty, which must be a risk for anyone suspected of being an assassin.

Source Wikipedia https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/VX_%28nerve_agent%29
Source University of Birmingham http://www.birmingham.ac.uk/accessibility/transcripts/nerve-gas-in-warfare.aspx


Safety First — Wurzels star in Farm Safety Song

Iconic band “The Wurzels” has teamed up with students at Moreton Morrell College to produce a farm safety music video promoting farm safety. The video promotes the “Yellow Wellies Campaign” of the Farm Safety Foundation/ NFU Mutual. The campaign asks “Who Would Fill Your Boots?” to farmers in the case of injury or death at work.

According to the UK Health and Safety Executive, 27 people died in farm accidents in the year to April 2014. Farming often involves working long hours with Heavy machinery, livestock, exposed to the elements.

Whilst farming accounts for 1.5% of the UK’s workforce, it accounts for 15-20% of workplace fatalities.

Have a safe day.

Farm Safety track 2015

Original track 1976

Quantum Pain

You can see a video of Jim Al-Khalili’s presentation at the Royal Society, were he is discussed the relations between Quantum mechanics and biology. (Does nature use Quantum mechanics — of course).

I thought of a simple demonstration that shows that Quantum mechanics applies to biological specimens, even seemingly complex ones. The example involves the quantum behaviour of pain. If a child falls over and it is being watched by it’s parents then it will feel pain and cry. If no one is watching, there will be no pain and the child will just carry on.

I thought there was a V-sauce on youtube about pain… but I seem to have imagined it.

Here is a TED-X talk Lorimer Moseley (at Adelaide)

‘Scientist’ jailed for faking results

BBC report about scientist jailed for faking results. Steven Eaton from Cambridgeshire was convicted in March 2013 under the 1999 Good Laboratory Practice Regulations. The court heard that while working at the Edinburgh branch of US based pharmaceutical firm Aptuit in 2009, Mr Eaton manipulated experimental results, so that a drug would proceed to human trails.

Mr Eaton was convicted by Sheriff Michael O’Grady QC, and received the maximum possible sentence of three months, the Sheriff said his powers were inadequate for this case, and a longer sentence would be justified. Mr Eaton’s defence lawyer, claimed his client did not benefit financially from the fraud, as he was only making £35,000 per year.

Mr Eaton was reported by his employers after they became suspicious and reported him to the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency.

Story with generic science pictures can be found also at these sites:




Transocean transubstantiate transgressions transparently for transactions.

Transocean reported it surpassed its safety targets resulting in larger bonus’ for its board, also noted deaths in ‘BP’ oil spill.


Satellite to crash

Lumps of a US satellite are due to hit somewhere in Nothern Hemisphere. Chance of someone being hit are estimated as 1/3200. The satellite was launched to measure upper atmosphere climate, like the weather balloons used by UK scientists who discoved the Ozone hole. Don’t worry the satellite won’t hit the US, NASA say. They can’t say were it will land, but they can make sure it isn’t USA. It is expected to make reentry on friday night or saturday morning.

Artists impression of UARS satellite

The satellite is the biggest “mission to earth” satellite ever launched, or planned to be launched.

Most of the six tonne satellite is aluminium and expected to vaporise on re-entry, but about 1 tonne of the satellite is made from steel and titanium alloys which are expected to survive.

Nasa mission page:

Science on trial?

BBC report on Italy scientists on trial over L’Aquila earthquake. Alfredo Biondi the lawyer of Mr Eva, Alfredo Biondi, said the trial was not credible, “This is a trial which opens on very shaky foundations. You cannot put science on trial.

Surely this is exactly wrong, if something can’t be tested/trialled then how can it be science?

Most importantly it isn’t science which is on trial but some scientists.

Who is on trial?

  • Franco Barberi, head of Serious Risks Commission
  • Enzo Boschi, former president of the National Institute of Geophysics
  • Giulio Selvaggi, director of the National Earthquake Centre
  • Gian Michele Calvi, director of European Centre for Earthquake Engineering
  • Claudio Eva, physicist
  • Mauro Dolce, director of the the Civil Protection Agency’s earthquake risk office
  • Bernardo De Bernardinis, former vice-president of the Civil Protection Agency’s technical department

It is alleged that statements made by an advisory committee, that small quakes are not necessarily a precursor to a large quake, resulted in people failing to take precautionary action of staying outside, and lead to 309 deaths.