45 votes
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How are poisons discovered? Does someone have to die/be poisoned from it first?

Alle Dinge sind Gift, und nichts ist ohne Gift, allein die Dosis macht dass ein Ding kein Gift ist (The dose makes the poison) - Paracelsus Poisons (I'm going to use this as an umbrella term for "...
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32 votes
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Why is methanol toxic?

Methanol isn't particularly toxic in and of itself, although it's no walk in the park. If methanol flowed through the body without being broken down, it would cause roughly the same kind of harm as ...
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28 votes
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Is Fluorine more toxic than Chlorine?

Fluorine is much more reactive than chlorine and would certainly cause more damage to living tissues. You can even check out https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vtWp45Eewtw for some fun demonstrations of ...
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26 votes
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Why does carbon monoxide have a greater affinity for hemoglobin than oxygen?

Excursion into simple coordination chemistry: Bonding, backbonding and simple orbital schemes Please refer to Breaking Bioinformatic’s answer for the MO scheme of carbon monoxide, it is very helpful. ...
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18 votes

Why is methanol toxic?

The enzyme alcohol dehydroganase converts the methanol to formaldehyde in the body. Formaldehyde is then converted to formic acid. Formaldehyde can cause blindness before being converted to formic ...
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17 votes

Why does carbon monoxide have a greater affinity for hemoglobin than oxygen?

The answer has to do with pi-backbonding. In essence, the CO molecule has a negative formal charge on the carbon (it's neutral because of the oxygen having a positive formal charge). However, C is ...
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16 votes

How are poisons discovered? Does someone have to die/be poisoned from it first?

As you already correctly deduced, the discovery of poisons was in former times quite accidental, but once its potency was discovered, the (mis)use of it was predictable. It must also be said that our ...
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15 votes

Why does radiocarbon dating only work in nonliving creatures?

There are plenty of good sources online explaining the principle behind radiocarbon dating. For instance, the wikipedia explains: During its life, a plant or animal is in equilibrium with its ...
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13 votes
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In the wet medium of an ocean, how does a hard shell form?

Carbon dioxide from the atmosphere (or from decaying matter in the ocean) reacts with water to form carbonic acid: $$ \ce{ CO2 + H2O -> H_2CO_3 }$$ and this reacts with calcium ions to form ...
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13 votes
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Has a non-carbon-based form of life been discovered since 2010?

Just because an organism might need a nutrient, whether arsenic or cobalt (which homo sapiens needs for making RBC's) does not mean that the organism is not carbon-based. What had been announced was ...
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13 votes

Is Fluorine more toxic than Chlorine?

Fluorine is in the first place much more reactive than chlorine. In contrary to chlorine, it would not damage biological tissues. It would destroy them. Pure fluorine could put the body on self-...
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12 votes
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CO poisoning - What I've been taught is a hoax?

Each hemoglobin molecule has 4 subunits (4 hemes each having one iron atom). Each time a molecule (such as oxygen or CO) binds to one subunit, it changes the binding properties of the other subunits. ...
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12 votes

How does calcium carbide artificially ripen fruits?

Technically, there is no difference between naturally ripened fruit and artificially ripened fruit... they're both ripened fruit. I suppose you were looking for some sort of simple chemical test to ...
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12 votes

Etymology of "click chemistry"

Yes, it is detailed here and in numerous other places. It refers to a class of reactions, and does not mean "join." From the above-cited page on named reactions: "Click Chemistry" is a term that ...
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12 votes
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How does one tell (or conclude) if a substance is carcinogenic?

How do we tell or suspect one compound to be carcinogenic? As written in the comments to the question, this the result of large studies on the human population, correlating blood or urine levels of ...
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11 votes

Why does carbon monoxide have a greater affinity for hemoglobin than oxygen?

I appreciate above answer by BreakingBioinformatics. However I have been looking for the oxidation reactions involving Fe in this case. Found some useful material here. It is based on the textbook, ...
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  • 1,886
11 votes

How are poisons discovered? Does someone have to die/be poisoned from it first?

Sometimes poisons are discovered by chance. At least that is what happened to me. We were researching on products made with malonodinitrile and enones. Since I was interested in the mechanism, I used ...
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10 votes

Why is methanol toxic?

I just wanted to point out that everything is toxic in the right proportion. THe problem is with the dose. I think you could drink a bit of methanol without getting particulary harmed. Do not do it, ...
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10 votes
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What could these letters "S" in red circles mean in a biochemical diagram?

It almost certainly refers to the amino acid (residue) serine. The numbers (300, 333, 351) refer to the residue numbers. The COOH at the end signifies the C-terminus of the protein (subunit). The ...
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10 votes

Is Fluorine more toxic than Chlorine?

From: Fluorine gas MSDS Chlorine gas MSDS Section 11, toxicity: Product Result Species Dose Exposure fluorine LC50 Inhalation Gas. Rat 185 ppm 1 hours chlorine LC50 Inhalation Gas. Rat 293 ppm 1 ...
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9 votes
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Is Acrylamide carcinogenic? Why?

Acrylamide is a Michael acceptor. All Michael acceptors are potentially carcinogenic because DNA can act as a Michael donor. This Michael reaction can damage the DNA, which can ultimately develop into ...
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9 votes
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What compounds exist in the bitter peel of specific fruits?

The reason behind the bitterness of most fruits is due to presence of Tannin in them. Tannin is a naturally occurring polyphenol found in plants, seeds, bark, wood, leaves and fruit skins. Tannin ...
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  • 1,605
9 votes
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Is it possible to make a drug that liquefies heart plaque to treat heart disease?

Plaques are continually being removed from arteries by natural mechanisms within the body. Statin use, when combined with aggressive dietary changes, can slow down the rate of plaque deposition to ...
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9 votes
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What does the Pi stand for in the reaction for biological nitrogen fixation?

It stands for inorganic phosphate (Pi). When ATP is broken down into ADP, energy is released along with a phosphate. You can visualise this if you look at the structure of ATP. ADP is then also able ...
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9 votes

Etymology of "click chemistry"

Click chemistry is a term coined by K.B. Sharpless in 2001. The original paper "Click Chemistry: Diverse Chemical Function from a Few Good Reactions."[1] describes a set of very well working reactions ...
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9 votes

DNA pairs (adenine-thymine, guanine-cytosine)

In Principles of Nucleic Acid Structure, W. Saenger argues that hydrogen-bonded bases contain at least two hydrogen bonds (forming a "cyclic" pattern). Often, there is a tautomeric form possible that ...
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9 votes

Net production of CO2 in plants

Plants are able to store energy as carbohydrates, i.e. they can make more carbohydrates than they need for their metabolism when there is no sunlight, and store it for later use. So the amount of ...
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8 votes

Dissolving Organic Tissues

Chop the body into smaller pieces, using a sturdy butcher axe. Use a pressurized stainless steel autoclave (preferable with stirrer) or comparable professional kitchen equipment, suspend the pieces in ...
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8 votes
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Aspartame poisoning: Can it modify aminoacids?

Aspartame is one of the most well studied food additives there is. It seems to be controversial in the same way that evolution is—scientific research is overwhelmingly on the side of the substance ...
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8 votes
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Bones of Strontium

Yes, such substitutions are indeed possible and can possibly happen. This being the case, is it possible to substitute one important element from an object or system, for instance the calcium in ...
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