Tuesday, 4 August 2015

Don't Poison Yourself.

It has been my failing for many years that when I come across a book of somewhat esoteric interest I am tempted to pick it up and read it. Thus it came about that recently I read Science and the Police Officer, it being a collection of short lectures given to the Irish Garda in the 1920s by a scientific officer. 

The techniques and opinions were dated, as one would expect, dealing with, for example, criminal anthropology – a concept long discarded for its irrelevance.

But it was the chapter on toxicology which really ignited my interest. The scientist explained that poisons used by murderers were basically either acid or alkaline and if you could get the antidote to the victim quickly enough then you stood a better chance of saving them. And the antidote to an acid poison has to be alkaline and vice versa.

The two poison types can be distinguished by their taste. An acid tends to produce a stinging sensation on the tongue whereas an alkaline poison feels soapy. That is all very well, but if the victim is unable to tell you what sensation they have you are still in ignorance of the class of poison.

Not any longer. 

The author's suggestion is that you should look around for the bottle from which the poison emanated and then taste some of it yourself.

Please don't try this at home.

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