We all know about these commonly used inventions, but they had a dark side.

1…..Ecstasy


Anton Köllisch developed 3,4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine as a by-product of research for a drug combating abnormal bleeding. It was largely ignored for around 70 years until it became popular in  dance clubs of the early 80s. It was only when the Rave party culture of the late 80s adopted Ecstasy as its drug of choice that MDMA became one of the top four illegal drugs in use killing an estimated 50 people a year in the UK alone. Its inventor died in World War I.

2…Concentration camps

Frederick Roberts, 1st Earl Roberts set up “safe refugee camps” to provide refuge for civilian families who had been forced to abandon their homes for one  reason or another related to the Boer War. However, when Lord Kitchener succeeded Roberts as commander-in-chief in South Africa in 1900, the British Army introduced new tactics in an attempt to break the guerrilla campaign and the influx of civilians grew dramatically as a result. Kitchener initiated plans to- “flush out guerrillas in a series of systematic drives, organized like a sporting shoot, with success defined in a weekly ‘bag’ of killed, captured and wounded, and to sweep the country bare of everything that could give sustenance to the guerrillas, including women and children.” Of the 28,000 Boer men captured as prisoners of war, 25,630 were sent overseas. The vast majority of Boers remaining in the local camps were women and children. Over 26,000 women and children were to perish in these concentration camps.

3…ROCKETS


Despite a lifelong passion for astronomy and a dream that rockets could be used to explore space, Wernher von Braun’s talents were used to produce the Nazi V2 rocket which killed 7,250 military personnel and civilians and an estimated 20,000 slave laborers during construction. Later in the US he developed a series of ICBM rockets capable of transporting multiple nuclear warheads around the globe before redeeming his reputation with the Saturn V rocket that put men on the moon

4…NUCLEAR FUSION

Sir Marcus Laurence Elwin Oliphant was the first to discover that heavy hydrogen nuclei could be made to react with each other . This fusion reaction is the basis of a hydrogen bomb. Ten years later, American scientist Edward Teller would press to use Oliphant’s discovery in order to build the hydrogen bomb. However, Oliphant did not foresee this – “We had no idea whatever that this fusion reaction would one day be applied to make hydrogen bombs. Our curiosity was just curiosity about the structure of the nucleus of the atom”.

5…SARIN GAS

Dr. Gerhard Schrader was a German chemist specializing in the discovery of new insecticides, hoping to make progress in the fight against world hunger. However, Dr. Schrader is best known for his accidental discovery of nerve agents such as sarin and tabun, and for this he is sometimes called the “father of the nerve agents”.

6…LEADED PETROL


Thomas Midgley discovered the CFC Freon as a safe refrigerant to replace the highly toxic refrigerants such as ammonia in common use. This resulted in extensive damage to the Ozone Layer. His other famous idea was to add tetraethyl lead to gasoline to prevent “knocking” thus causing worldwide health issues and deaths from lead poisoning. He is considered to be the man that – “had more impact on the atmosphere than any other single organism in Earth’s history.”

7…TNT

Joseph Wilbrand was a German chemist who discovered trinitrotoluene in 1863 to be used as a yellow dye. It wasn’t until after 1902 that the devastating power of TNT as it is better known was fully realized and it was utilized as an explosive in time for extensive use by both sides in World War I, World War II. It is still in military & industrial use today.

8…GATLING GUNAdd an Image


Richard Jordan Gatling invented the Gatling gun after he noticed the majority of dead from the American Civil War died from infection & illness, rather than gunshots. In 1877, he wrote: “It occurred to me that if I could invent a machine – a gun – which could by its rapidity of fire, enable one man to do as much battle duty as a hundred, that it would, to a large extent supersede the necessity of large armies, and consequently, exposure to battle and disease would be greatly diminished.” The Gatling gun was used most successfully to expand European colonial empires by ruthlessly mowing down native tribesmen armed with basic primitive weapons.

9…AGENT ORANGE

Arthur Galston developed a chemical that was meant to speed the growth of soybeans and allow them to be grown in areas with a short season. Unfortunately in high concentrations it would defoliate them and it was made into a herbicide even though Galston had grave concerns about its effects on humans. It was supplied to the US government in orange striped barrels and 77 million litres of Agent Orange were sprayed on Vietnam causing 400000 deaths and disabilities with another 500000 birth defects. Service personnel to some extent were also affected

10…ZYKLON B

Fritz Haber was a Nobel Prize winning Jewish scientist who created cheap nitrogen fertilizer and also made chemical weapons for the German side in World War I. It was his creation of an insecticide mainly used as a fumigant in grain stores that was responsible for the deaths of an estimated 1.2 million people. His Zyklon B became the nazis preferred method of execution in gas chambers during the Holocaust.

Sourced & published by Henry Sapiecha

Scientists Test

Australia’s Moreton Bay

as Coral ‘Lifeboat’

Science (Aug. 13, 2010) — An international team of scientists has been exploring Moreton Bay, close to Brisbane, as a possible ‘lifeboat’ to save corals from the Great Barrier Reef at risk of extermination under climate change.


In a new research paper they say that corals have been able to survive and flourish in the Bay, which lies well to the south of the main GBR coral zones, during about half of the past 7000 years.

Corals only cover about 1 per cent of the Moreton Bay area currently, and have clearly been adversely affected by clearing of the surrounding catchments and human activities on land and sea, says lead author Matt Lybolt of the ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies and The University of Queensland.

“The demise of tropical coral reefs around the world is due mainly to overfishing, pollution and climate change. There is also plenty of historical evidence that coral reefs can move from one environment to another as the climate and other conditions change,” Matt explains.

“In view of this, various places — including Moreton Bay — are being investigated as possible refuges in which coral systems can be preserved should they begin to die out in their natural settings. Indeed, some people have even talked of relocating and re-seeding corals in other locations that better suit their climatic needs.”

The team’s study of Moreton Bay reveals that it is not exactly ideal coral habitat, being cold in winter, lacking sufficient direct sunlight, subject to turbid freshwater inflows and — more recently — to a range of human impacts.

“Even before European settlers came on the scene the Bay underwent phases in which corals grew prolifically — and phases in which they died away almost completely. We understand what causes corals to die back, but we are less clear about what causes them to recover,” Matt says.

“Broadly, the corals seemed to do well at times when the climate, sea levels and other factors were most benign and stable — and to decline when El Nino and other disturbances made themselves felt.”

The Moreton Bay corals have been in an expansionary phase during the last 400 years, initially dominated by the branching Acropora corals but, since the Bay’s catchment was cleared and settled, these have died back leaving mainly slow-growing types of coral.

“Under climate change we expect winters to be warmer and sea levels to rise — and both of these factors will tend to favour the expansion of corals in Moreton Bay,” Matt says.

“However this expansion of corals may not occur unless we make a major effort to improve water quality in the Bay, by not allowing effluent, polluted runoff or sediment to enter it, and also by regrowing mangrove forests and seagrass beds within the Bay. ”

The team concludes that Moreton Bay’s potential as a good ‘lifeboat’ for corals is limited by four major factors:

  • It is highly sensitive to what the 2 million residents of its catchment do that affects it
  • It presently has very few branching corals left
  • The area on which corals can grow is limited, both naturally and by human activity
  • Finally, the historical record suggests the Bay is only a good coral refuge about half of the time.

Matt says that there is nevertheless scope for changes in the management of the Bay and its surrounding catchments that can improve its suitability as a coral environment. “The reefs of today don’t look anything like they did in the past, so it’s really a question of ‘What sort of coral reef do you want?’,” he says.

However there needs to be a clearer scientific understanding of the drivers that have caused corals to boom and bust within the Bay over the past seven millennia before we can be sure it is worthwhile attempting to make Moreton Bay a ‘lifeboat’ for the GBR, he cautions.

Matt noted that there are very few suitable coral habitats south of the southern end of the GBR to which corals can migrate, should the northern parts of the reef become untenable for corals due to the impact of global warming.

Their paper “Instability in a marginal coral reef: the shift from natural variability to a human-dominated seascape” by Matt Lybolt, David Neil, Jian-xin Zhao, Yue-xing Feng, Ke-Fu Yu and John Pandolfi appears in the latest issue of the journal Frontiers in Ecology and Environment.

Sourced & published by Henry Sapiecha


Clam Cleanup

Biologists Clam Up Waterways

To Determine Sources Of Pollution

January 1, 2009 — Biologists are able to determine the sources of toxins in water by using clams as pollutant traps. Clams naturally clean water by feeding absorbing toxins in their tissues as they draw in water. By placing the clams downstream of industrial parks and highways, they can be analyzed for pollutants. Biologists open the clams after exposure to these waters and detach them from their shells– various lab tests reveal contaminants in the waterway.


See also:
Plants & Animals

Many of our streams and rivers are contaminated with pollutants like pesticides, lead, arsenic and PCBs. It’s a problem that’s costly to clean up. Scientists are using a new, inexpensive way to fix the problem.

Lurking in many rivers and streams are contaminants. Some you can see, and some you can’t. Hidden chemicals ruin waterways and everything in it. To clean things up, biologists are teaming up with local high school students to dredge up clams to use as tiny detectives. They help by finding the source of toxic leaks.

“We’re using them as pollutant traps,” said Harriette Phelps, Ph.D., a biologist at the University of the District of Columbia in Washington, D.C.

Students put the clams in streams that lead to rivers. Clams then suck in water swept down from industrial parks and highways.

“It’s been a great experience to actually come and see them and be the ones to pick them up out of the water,” student Caitlin Virta said.

Clams clean the water as they feed, absorbing toxins in their tissues. The clams are collected back from streams. Then, scientists pry open the clams and detach them from their shell. Later, lab tests reveals the clam’s secret — the kinds and quantities of pollutants in the water.

“We can trace them back to sources, and then hopefully we can go from there and get rid of the sources,” Dr. Phelps said.

The clams detected a banned pesticide in Maryland, believed buried years ago and now slowly leaking. “I thought it was really cool how you could tell the health of a stream from analyzing clam leftovers,” Virta said.

It’s a cool way to clean up the environment.


BIOACCUMULATION AND CLAMS: Clams are filter-feeders, meaning they draw water into their shells, remove the food they find, and then draw in more food-rich water to continue feeding. This means that lots of water works its way through their shells. The muscle of the clam gathers not only food, but other material suspended in water during this process, which can lead to the accumulation of toxins and pollutants. Bioaccumulation is the term for toxins and pollutants that collect in the tissue of an organism. Biomagnification is a related term, referring to the transfer of such substances from prey to predator. If a prey animal bioaccumulates toxins in its body, then its predator, after consuming many of the smaller animals will accumulate many, many times the amount of the toxin in any one of their prey.

SECONDARY STANDARDS: Even if your tap water meets the EPA’s basic requirement for safe drinking water, some people still object to the taste, smell or appearance of their water. These are aesthetic concerns, however, and therefore fall under the EPA’s voluntary secondary standards. Some tap water is drinkable, but may be temporarily clouded because of air bubbles, or have a chlorine taste. A bleach-like taste can be improved by letting the water stand exposed to the air for a while.

The American Geophysical Union contributed to the information

Sourced and published by Henry Sapiecha 7th June 2010