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Poisons

If this snake bit you, would you know that it was a great lakes bush viper? (Photo: Shutte...

When a snake-bite victim shows up at a hospital, it's vitally important for caregivers to know what species of snake bit them. Without that knowledge, they won't know what sort of anti-venom – if any – is required. Making that ID could one day be much easier, thanks to a current study in which species were reliably identified via snake DNA obtained from fang marks in victims' bite wounds.  Read More

Cigarette ash could now have another use besides ... well, nothing (Photo: Shutterstock)

In a perfect world, cigarette waste simply wouldn't exist. Given that it does, though, scientists have explored a number of methods of repurposing it – these have included using compounds from cigarette butts to store energy, make shipping pallets, and rust-proof steel. Now, researchers have shown that cigarette ash can be used as a low-cost means of filtering arsenic from water supplies. It's a little ironic, as cigarette smoke actually contains a dangerous amount of arsenic.  Read More

A rendering of the new spray bottle

The average household contains at least a few spray bottles filled with liquids that ... well, that children shouldn’t be playing with. While most bottles now incorporate nozzles that can be “turned off,” many people don’t bother doing so, plus kids can just turn those nozzles back on themselves. The situation has led to the design of a new type of child-resistant spray bottle, that has two triggers.  Read More

The Dip Chip biosensor, with a key for scale

Once upon a time, tasters were employed by the well-to-do, in order to check that their food or drink wasn't poisonous. Today, there are electronic biosensors that can do more or less the same thing. Unfortunately, as was no doubt sometimes the case with the tasters, the biosensors can’t always give us immediate results. Additionally, they’re usually only able to test for specific substances, and not simply for “anything that’s toxic.” An experimental new device known as the Dip Chip, however, is said to address both of those problems.  Read More

Clostridium Botulinum spores

May 28, 2007 Botulism toxin is the deadliest poison on the planet. 2kg of it is enough to kill every person on the planet - although this doesn't stop the rich and tasteless from injecting it into their faces as Botox, where it stops nerves from working and has a slight smoothing effect on wrinkles. The toxin is produced by the Clostridium Botulinum bacteria - and scientists at the UK's Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute have just completed some fascinating genome research on the development of this incredibly effective killer and its survival mechanisms. Where some bacteria use complex and even elegant methods to dance around our immune systems, C. Botulinum goes for the direct hit with a "microbial sledgehammer." More please, just around the jawline.  Read More

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