Linus Pauling site

Linus Pauling and the Nature of the Chemical Bond

Utilizing over 2,500 manuscript pages, nearly 100 photographs, and more than four hours of audio and video, this website tells the story of a cornerstone achievement of twentieth century science…

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 It was subsequently withdrawn, as it was too toxic for safe use.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

Pentaquark and quintuplet discovered

The SuperWASP project announced at the UK National Astronomy meeting held in July 2015 Llandudno, that they found a star system involving five stars, 2 binary stars and a lone star.

In the same week it was announced that a pantaquark had been measured at CERN.

Possible Pentaquark

A diagram of the P+
c type pentaquark possibly discovered in July 2015, showing the flavours of each quark and one possible colour configuration. Image from Wikipedia

Problem for Ken Livingstone — Science

My Problem, and I think why I have often been in trouble in politics, is that I had no interest in politics when I left school, I spent eight years working as a junior technician in a cancer research unit. The scientists I worked with, put a culture in my brain that you find out the truth and you say it. Otherwise you don’t find a cure for anything. Then I moved into politics and it’s almost like you just say what you believe, you don’t bother to check the facts.

Graphene in the News Cycle

My Dad rang me last week to tell me about wonder material Graphene, after a story appeared in Cycling Weekly. Actually the reason my Dad rang me was mostly because my supervisor was appearing in his magazine.

Sir Harry Bhadeshia: Graphene won't deliver improved mechanical properties

Sir Harry Bhadeshia: Graphene won’t deliver improved mechanical properties

Prof Sir Harry Bhadeshia was contacted by cycling weekly after describing in a Materials World article how the mechanical strength comparison of Graphene against steel is absolute rubbish. That’s because of the strange claim that Graphene is 200 times stronger than steel. In fact a fairer comparison would show that the properties available at the nanoscale are 6.5 times stronger than steel, however those mechanical properties of Graphene just cannot be realised in principle at the scale of millimetres or above. The reason is that the properties rely on perfection, and only small structures can approach this perfection.