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1355698.  Wed Aug 12, 2020 10:57 am Reply with quote

In Thomas Middleton’s gruesome Jacobean tragedy ‘Women Beware Women’, Isabella murders her aunt Livia with a cloud of poisoned incense. Isabella wasn’t exactly short of options when creating her poisoned incense as there are numerous solids that will release a colourless poisonous gas when burnt or through chemical reactions with other solids. Cyanide is one of them. Cyanide poisoning is most commonly associated with ingesting it in its crystal forms- sodium cyanide or potassium cyanide- but it can also exist as a colorless gas hydrogen cyanide or cyanogen chloride. Curiously, Cyanide and its compounds can sometimes give off a “bitter almond smell” but as 40% of people are genetically incapable of smelling this, it was unlikely to save Livia. Besides, by disguising the poisonous gas amongst perfumed incense, Isabella made it impossible for her aunt to detect.

Livia simultaneously kills her niece with a shower of molten gold. However, as gold has a melting point of 1064 degrees Celsius, it’s likely that she used a lead/gold alloy since a hearth could not have heated pure gold to the sort of temperature needed. Still an unpleasant fate nevertheless...

Thomas Middleton, Women Beware Women
Holly Dugan, The Ephemeral History of Perfume: Scent and Sense in Early Modern England
Jonathan Gil Harris, “The Smell of Macbeth”

1355701.  Wed Aug 12, 2020 11:13 am Reply with quote

Bitter almonds contain significant amounts of cyanide, and growing sweet almonds near to peaches can result in cross-pollination that causes them to become bitter (poisonous) almonds (I think it's a recessive gene, but I could be wrong)


Janet H
1358077.  Wed Sep 09, 2020 4:38 pm Reply with quote

Fluorine is said to smell only for a short while, before the nose cells are destroyed, along with the lungs etc etc.

1358079.  Wed Sep 09, 2020 4:49 pm Reply with quote

eleanorburke wrote:
........there are numerous solids that will release a colourless poisonous gas when burnt.......

Sherlock Holmes, and indeed Watson and Dr Leon Sterndale, could give you an in depth description of what happens when one burns Radix Pedi Diaboli or Devil's Foot Root..........

edited for typo

Last edited by crissdee on Thu Sep 10, 2020 4:59 am; edited 1 time in total

Janet H
1358080.  Wed Sep 09, 2020 5:39 pm Reply with quote

SMELL OF DEATH : sulphur mustard gas, most famously used in the 1914-1918 war, but sadly still used more recently:

United Kingdom against the Red Army in 1919
Spain and France against the Rifian resistance in Morocco during 1921–27
Italy in Libya during 1930
The Soviet Union in Xinjiang, Republic of China, during the Soviet Invasion of Xinjiang against the 36th Division (National Revolutionary Army) in 1934, and also in the Xinjiang War (1937) during 1936–37
Italy against Abyssinia (now Ethiopia) from 1935 to 1940
The Japanese Empire against China during 1937–1945
The 2 December 1943 air raid on Bari destroyed an Allied stockpile of mustard gas on the SS John Harvey.
Egypt against North Yemen during 1963–1967
Iraq against Kurds in the town of Halabja during the Halabja chemical attack
Iraq against Iranians during 1983–1988
Possibly in Sudan against insurgents in the civil war, in 1995 and 1997.
In the Iraq War, abandoned stockpiles of mustard gas shells were destroyed in the open air, and were used against Coalition forces in roadside bombs.
By ISIS forces against Kurdish forces in Iraq in August 2015.
By ISIS against another rebel group in the town of Mare' in 2015.
According to Syrian State media, by ISIS against Syrian Army during the battle in Deir ez-Zor in 2016.


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