Iodine Wonders- Napoleonic Wars and Secret Rains (Post No.5666)

Written by London Swaminathan

Date: 15 November 2018

GMT Time uploaded in London –15-33
Post No. 5666

Pictures shown here are taken from various sources including google, Wikipedia, Facebook friends and newspapers. This is a non- commercial blog

Iodine is one of the 118 elements and has the Atomic Number 53 in the Periodic Table. There are very interesting titbits about this Common element. All of us know about tincture iodine that is applied on injuries and wounds. But there are more roles played by iodine in the fields of photography, artificial rain, treatment for goitre. Iodised salt, Napoleons interest in iodine, controversy about who discovered iodine, Chernobyl and thyroid cancer and foods rich in iodine.

Let me give some interesting information first

Secret tests carried out by the British defence department caused the death of 31 people in Lyn mouth in 1952. The experiment was done to see whether they can stop advancing enemy tanks in the battle field by creating floods. They tried to produce artificial rain by seeding the clouds with silver iodide. It caused sudden floods in West of England causing natural disaster.

Silver iodide can be used to seed the cloud and thereby initiate rainfall. One gram of silver iodide can provide trillion seed crystals around which water vapour condescend into water and fall to earth as rain .

Chemical details
Chemical symbol ‘I’ ( I for India, I for Iodine)
Atomic number 53
Melting point 114 degree C
It is a black, shiny, non-metallic element and belongs to halogen group in the Periodic Table.

Chernobyl and Thyroid Cancer
Radioactive iodine-131 was released into atmosphere following Chernobyl nuclear accident in 1986. Though the isotope has a half-life of eight days it was picked up by grazing animals. The milk from those animals and the water with the isotope caused thyroid cancer in lot of children. Potassium iodide tablets can counter the bad effects of this isotope, but it was too late for Chernobyl people.

Iodine in photography
In 1839, Louis Daguerre used it in photography. He used a piece of plated silver which had been exposed to iodine vapour. That formed the light sensitive silver iodide. The stronger the light, the more silver iodide was converted back to silver metal. The iodine formed in this was washed resulting in a positive image. Later they replaced it with a wet plate with silver iodide film on glass.

400000 tonnes from the sea
About four lakh tonnes of iodine escape from the oceans every year as iodide in sea spray or as iodine produced by marine organisms. When they are deposited on land micro organisms, fungi and other plants pick some of it and the rest reaches the sea again through river water.

Iodine is used in many industries
Pharmaceuticals account for 25%
Animal feeds 15%
Printing inks and dye s 15%
Industrial catalysts 15%
Photographic chemicals 10%
Miscellaneous uses 20%

Iodine is turned into iodide s of silver, titanium , potassium and zirconium in these industries.

Iodine and Napoleon

Iodine was discovered as an indirect result of the Napoleonic Wars of the early nineteenth century. British navy blockaded France in an effort to cut off the supply of saltpetre—potassium Nitrate —that was needed to make gunpowder. A cottage industry sprang up quickly to supply the saltpetre. Bernard Courtois, a chemist, made saltpetre from seaweed ash. In this process, he saw some beautiful crystals and gave it to two friends. At the end Joseph Gay Lussac proved it as a new element and named it Iode, from the Greek ‘iodes’ meaning violet like.

Iodine crystals produce purple fumes when they are heated.

English man Humphrey Davy confirmed it. English said that he discovered it. This controversy lasted for 100 years. The French celebrated the discovery of iodine in 1913. Napoleon gave permission to English man Humphrey Davy to visit Paris even though the two countries were at War. Davy was given a sample of iodine and he worked on it in his hotel room using his travelling chemistry set.

Iodine in Medicines

In 1820, Dr Jean Francois Coindet used iodine solution and potassium iodide for treating goitre. He knew sea weed which was used in goitre treatment contained iodine. Though his medicine failed to treat goitre it was found a good germs killer. It was used to treat open wounds. This is tincture iodine.

Iodine is needed in the first three months of pregnancy for the development of baby’s nervous system. Body needs iodine for its proper function. Most of it is in the thyroid glands in the neck. Thyroid glands produce two hormones, Thyroxine and Tri iodo thyronine, which regulate several metabolic functions including body temperature. Too little iodine in the body results in goitre— swollen neck— feels cold, dry skin, tiredness and even depression. Too much iodine results in hyperthyroidism with its associated restlessness and hyper activity

Iodine is found in large quantity in natural conditions in Chile, Colorado ,New Mexico in America
It is produced from natural brine and oil well brine. Chile and Japan produce 70% of iodine in the world

Every one of us needs iodine and it is in seaweed, cabbage, mushrooms, fish and oysters. Where ever iodine deficiency is, iodised salt is used in food. India and other countries use iodised salt.

— Subham—


Written by London Swaminathan
Date: 23 October 2018

Time uploaded in London – 18-14

(British Summer Time)

Post No. 5581

Pictures shown here are taken from various sources including google, Wikipedia, Facebook friends and newspapers. This is a non- commercial blog.


London Newspapers have flashed a news item this morning which warns about micro plastics in our body.

There are nine types of micro plastics in the human body in western countries who eat fish and drink from bottles.

The plastics can be ingested by eating fish that has been exposed to wastes in the sea, while other risks include drinking beer or tap water and using cosmetics.

Sea fish is the main culprit. Also, city life is unhealthy.

In course of time, they may even recommend live in villages surrounded by trees and plants, Well water and vegetarian food. Most of the non -vegetarian foods come in plastic packings in western countries. That way eating vegetables are safe, that too eating vegetables grown organically is safer.

Vegetarians will feel better after reading the following news:

Toxic micro plastics are polluting people’s bodies according to a latest research by experts from Medical University in Vienna, Austria.

Volunteers from eight European countries took part in the study. All of them had potentially dangerous particles in their systems.

Dr Philip Schwabl, who led the research said, “This is the first study of its kind and confirms what we have long suspected—plastics ultimately reach the human gut. Smallest particles can even enter the blood stream., the lymphatic system and may even reach the liver. We need further research to find out how it would affect our health”.

How did they find it ?

The findings are based on analysis of the stools of eight volunteers from Austria, Britain, Finland, Italy, Japan, the Netherlands, Poland and Russia.

They had kept food diaries which showed the had all eaten products from plastic packaging or drunk from plastic bottles.

Six of the had eaten fish.

Nine types of MICRO PLASTICS were found and there were on average 20 particles per 10 gram of stool.

Full details were presented at United European Gastro enterology week in Vienna yesterday.

Previous research showed it plastic can be ingested through food, drink, cosmetics and even by breathing air in the city.

Plastics contaminates every aspect of our life!



Research Article Written by London Swaminathan
Date: 12 October 2018


Time uploaded in London – 20-31 (British Summer Time)


Post No. 5533



Pictures shown here are taken from various sources including google, Wikipedia, Facebook friends and newspapers. This is a non- commercial blog.



Eye twitching is common according to doctors. They call it myokymia. When we say eye twitching, we mean eyelid twitching. Most eye twitches come and go, but some can last for weeks or months. They are harmless. If it lasts for months then it may be due to some nerve problem. The causes for the twitching may be fatigue, lack of sleep, eye strain, caffeine, alcohol, allergies, nutrition problems according to medical encyclopedia. But Shakespeare , 2000 year old Tamil poets and Kalidasa differ with the modern biologists.


In Hindu scriptures, the left eye twitching for women is good and right eye twitching for men is good.  Some may differ in it. But all agree that twitching eye means something good or bad. Science don’t agree with them.

In china left eye twitching is a lucky sign of getting wealth. in India, right eye twitching is good (if you are men).

In African countries, it differs from country to country.


In Western countries, the talk about itching eyes and not twitching eyes.

Theocritus (275 BCE) says

My right eye itches now, and shall I see my love? (Idylls III)

Shakespeare (1604) says,

Mine eyes do itch; doth that bode weeping? (Othello IV)

(Is that an omen I will be crying soon?)


N.Homes (1650)

If their right eye itcheth, it betokens sorrowful weeping;

if the left eye itcheth, …… joyful laughter. (Daemonologie)


Jonathan Swift (1738)

My right eye itches; I shall cry (political Conversation III)


The book on Superstitions published in 1780 also confirms,

Itching right eye is a bad omen. It will make people cry, weep etc.


Twitching in oriental literature is replaced with Itching in Western literature.

Now Let us look at the World famous Indian poet Kalidasa (First Century BCE)

Meghadutam verse 94

the doe eyed lady’s left eye

would throb at your coming, I guess

and match the charm of blue lotuses

quivering as fishes dart among them.

Kalidasa means that the left eye twitching for women is good.

In his world famous drama Sakuntalam Kalidasa says,

Sakuntala (feeling a bad omen)

O You Gods! What means this throbbing of my right eye?


In Raghuvamsa Kavya (14-49) Sita’s right eyes are throbbing and the she gets scared. She knew that something bad is going to happen.


In Other places Kalidasa shows that the throbbing or twitching of right shoulder or right eye is good for men (Raghu vamsa  6-68, 12-90 and Vikrama Urvasiya III-9)


We see such things in Valmiki Ramayana, Kamba Ramayana (Tamil) and several other Sanskrit books.

Sangam Tamil Literature

Since more than 200 similes of Kalidasa were used by Sangam Tamil pets I have providing my umpteen articles in this blog that Kalidasa lived before Sangam age; may be in first century or 2nd century BCE. Kapilar, the Brahmin poets used more similes than any one else.


Here in Kurinji section (Ainkurunuru) he used the twitching or throbbing of eye: In verse 218 the servant maid says that her eyes are throbbing which is a good sign. But the commentators say that her left eye throbbed which is a good sign.


So the Tamils and people in North India believed that left eye throbbing is good for women; right eye throbbing is bad.


Kapilar was one of the oldest poets of Sangam period.  Whatever he used was used again by other poets.

In the Kalitokai, which forms the last group of books, two poets use this eye twitching.

Palai Padiya Perum Kadunko (10), Chozan Nalluruthiran(106) used the same image. Left eye throbbing would  bring good message.


This is one more proof to establish the age of Kalidasa. This is another proof for unity in Indian culture from Kanyakumari to Kashmir. There is one culture in India with minor regional differences in food, clothing, manners and customs.




Men aren’t from Mars and women aren’t from Venus, but their brains really are wired differently, a new study suggests.

The research, which involved imaging the brains of nearly 1,000 adolescents, found that male brains had more connections within hemispheres, whereas female brains were more connected between hemispheres. The results, which apply to the population as a whole and not individuals, suggest that male brains may be optimized for motor skills, and female brains may be optimized for combining analytical and intuitive thinking.

“On average, men connect front to back [parts of the brain] more strongly than women,” whereas “women have stronger connections left to right,” said study leader Ragini Verma, an associate professor of radiology at the University of Pennsylvania medical school. But Verma cautioned against making sweeping generalizations about men and women based on the results.




Sanskrit and Tamil literature have a point. They knew by intuition or through scientific study that men are egoistic and more aggressive. We see it how they react in the battle field (see the remarks that their right-side body parts are throbbing or reacting in men). 2000 year old Tamil books repeat umpteen times that the tiger won’t eat its prey if it falls on its left side- so egoistic.

We know now that the left side of the brain controls the right side of the body. The left side stands for conscious actions, positive actions and calculations. The right side brain stands for music, arts, negative emotions and intuitions.


We must do deeper studies in this area and then only should come to conclusions. But a preliminary study shows that their reporting of reaction in the eyes or body parts has a scientific basis.











How Indians were fooled in Coir Sales (Post No.5526)

Written by London Swaminathan
Date: 10 October 2018


Time uploaded in London –14-42 (British Summer Time)


Post No. 5526


Pictures shown here are taken from various sources including google, Wikipedia, Facebook friends and newspapers. This is a non- commercial blog.


How Indians were fooled in Thorium Sales

During the time of world war time, India was exporting coir to Germany from Kerala and Tamil Nadu. At that time it was a single province. Tamils and Malayalees who were in the export business found a fraudulent and novel way of making money. Since the money for the coir was given on the basis of its weight, they increased the weight by choking them in water and rolling them onto the sand. It naturally increased the weight of the exported materials and brought them more money.

Germans who were desperate to make advanced weapons, particularly nuclear weapons during the war time found that the sand contained Thorium, nuclear material. Then they wrote back to coir exporters saying that they were ready to buy the sand itself. Only then the locals came to know the value of the monazite sand in their area.

India has the largest deposit of Thorium in the world. Next to India stands Australia. Monazite is the mineral that contains Thorium.


In 1815, Jons Jakob Berzelius of Sweden discovered Thorium.

Thorium is fertile but not fissile. It is a silvery white metal which turns into blak thorium dioxide when It is exposed to atmosphere.

The advantages of using Thorium in the nuclear reactors are–
1.This fuel produces 70% less toxic materials than uranium and other fuels
2.No rogue state can make an atom bomb with the used materials.

India made a nuclear device with the materials from its Canada built reactor. That reactor used Uranium.
Thorium has always intrigued nuclear physicists; the question has been how best to use it. It has similar radioactive properties of uranium 238, the isotope which makes up all nuclear fuels. It is three or four times more abundant in nature than Uranium.
It is named after the Scandinavian thunder god Thor. He is similar to Indra in the Rig veda. Thursday also is named after Thor.

Like U-238, Thorium in its naturally available form, will absorb neutrons from another nuclear material such as enriched U -235, and start to break down releasing huge amounts of energy. The difference comes in the family of radioactive elements and isotopes that are created as a result. The key absence from the Thorium reaction is large quantities of man- made element plutonium, particularly Pu-239 form favoured as a weapons material.

With less quantity of Thorium we can produce more electricity. It is said that Thorium deposits can produce electricity for another 1000 years.

God has given two gifts to India— Thorium and Solar energy. With these two, INDIA can prosper without damaging environment.

25 isotopes
Thorium-232 is the main isotope that occurs naturally. It has a half- life of 14 billion years. Of the other 24 known isotopes of Thorium, the longest lived is Thorium 230 with a long life of 75 000 years.

In the early years of X Ray diagnosis, patients were injected with a colloidal suspension of Thorium oxide to highlight the blood streams in the body. It was later found that those who took such a solution suffered from higher incidence of leukaemia. In 1900s German company was using it in toothpaste. Now all these are discontinued.

Thorium oxide is used in the manufacture of refractory materials for the metallurgical industry. Thermionic emitting devices and photo electric cells that measure the wave length of ultra violet light, both contain Thorium. It is used in high quality camera lenses too.

Thorium based nuclear reactors are functioning at experimental level. Once they become commercial it will be good for the world.

Chemical properties

Symbol Th
Atomic number 90
Melting point 1750 degrees C
Boiling point about 4800 degrees C
Atomic weight 232.0381


Xxx Subham xxxx

Lithium for Battery, Medicine and Hydrogen Bombs (Post No.5495)

Written by London Swaminathan
Date: 1 October 2018


Time uploaded in London – 14-52 (British Summer Time)


Post No. 5495


Pictures shown here are taken from various sources including google, Wikipedia, Facebook friends and newspapers. This is a non- commercial blog.

Lithium, one of the 118 elements in the Periodic Table, is a wonderful alkali metal.

We use it in
Hydrogen bombs
Psychiatric medicine
Camera, calculator, watch batteries and
Making air planes

Whether you are a mental patient or an ardent traveller or CD , Cassette Player user or an aeronautical engineer you need LITHIUM.

LITHIUM was discovered by Johan August Arfvedson at Stockholm in Sweden in 1817.

Soon after its discovery, it was found in spa waters in Karlsbad, Marienbad and Vichy.


For Mental Patients

In the beginning doctors used lithium to cure gouts.

In 1949, Australian doctor John Cade was experimenting with Guinea pigs. When he injected them with the urine of mental patients, they died. Cade thought that it was due to the excess uric acid in the urine. He continued his experiment with injecting the animals with lithium salt. First they were lethargic and then recovered within a few hours.

Cade then gave lithium carbonate to his most mentally disturbed patient, who had been admitted to a secure unit five years earlier. The man responded so well that within days he was transferred to a normal hospital ward and within two months he was able to return home and take up his old job.

Within the right dose of lithium a patient can be kept from either of the extremes, mania and depression. The dose is adjusted between 3 and 8 milligrams. A blood level of 10 milligrams of lithium per litre results in mild lithium poisoning, and when it reaches 15 milligrams per litre can have side effects, such as confusion and slurred speech and 20 milligrams per litre of blood means risk of death.
Lithium is produced in USA, Russia, China, Brazil, Chile, Australia and Zimbabwe.

Lithium oxide is used in glass industry.
Lithium carbonate is used in pharmaceutical services
Lithium, being the lightest of all metals, commercial aircraft industry use the metal.


Lithium batteries, which operate, at 3 volts or more, are used in wrist watches, calculators and camera flashes. They supply energy to heart pacemakers and they have a life span of ten years. The longevity and the lightness of the metal are very useful.
Lithium chloride is used to dry industrial gases and in air conditioning.
Lithium hydride is used to store hydrogen. A kilogram of it releases 2800 litre s of hydrogen when treated with water.

Chemical property
Symbol Li
Atomic number 3
Atomic weight 6.941
Melting point 181 degree C
Boiling point 1347 degrees C
Isotopes lithium 6 and lithium 7

Hydrogen Bomb 

The hydrogen of the hydrogen bombs is the compound of lithium hydride, in which the lithium is in the form of enriched lithium -6 isotope and the hydrogen is the hydrogen -2 isotope, also known as deuterium. This lithium deteuride is capable of releasing massive energy by nuclear fusion. This is achieved by placing it round the core of an atom bomb, which provides the heat necessary to initiate a nuclear fusion reaction as well as providing the nuclear flux. When the bomb detonates , it releases neutrons from the fission of its uranium -235 and these are absorbed by the nuclei of lithium 6 which immediately disintegrates to form helium and hydrogen 3. The hydrogen 3 then fuses with the deuterium to form more helium and this releases more yet more neutrons.  These are absorbed by the casing of the bomb, which is made up of uranium 238 and they convert it to plutonium 239 which then adds a third explosion, again one of nuclear fission.

The consequence of all this is to release a billion billion joules of energy in a fraction of a second with the explosive force of millions of tonnes of TNT.



source book- Nature’s Building Blocks by John Emsley




Written by London Swaminathan
Date: 30 September 2018


Time uploaded in London – 8-12 am (British Summer Time)


Post No. 5491


Pictures shown here are taken from various sources including google, Wikipedia, Facebook friends and newspapers. This is a non- commercial blog.





Two amazing discoveries of ancient Hindus show that they were the first travellers to America and other islands. Throughout Hindu literature we come across two Sanskrit words : Badavagni or Vadavagni (in Tamil Vada Mukha Agni) and the Chakravala Giri.


Badavagni is described as the sub marine fire in the shape of a horse. It sucks all the river waters that poured down into the oceans and so the oceans are within their bounds. Modern science show that there are under water volcanoes which are ever active. We find such ever burning, never stopping volcanoes in Hawaii (Pacific ocean) and other places. If Hindus were not ancient travellers, they would not have found them.


The second reference to Chakravala Giri, roughly translated, Circular Mountain chain, is also amazing. Hindu scriptures such as Valmiki Ramayana and Puranas very often mention it. This circular mountain is very new to western oceanographers. Only when they invented scubas and submarines they saw it and reported it. But Hindu scriptures in Sanskrit are talking about it for thousands of years. Unless they are adventurous and itinerant travellers, they would not have found them. Since these things are used as common place similes, even a layman has got some information about it.


Some books describe it a mountain chain encircling the earth which has ‘light inside but darkness outsid’e. We such things in the ocean in the form of volcanoes. So they are underwater structures.

What is the information available in science books?


Oceanographers have mapped more than 10,000 seamounts. Seamounts are mountains under the ocean. They are more in Pacific Ocean. In some places, they grow over the surface and form islands. They are found in Pacific, Indian and Atlantic oceans. Unless ancient Hindus travelled to all these oceans they couldn’t have talked about circular mountains—Chakra vala – around the oceans.


I quote below a few verses from 1000 year old Kamba Ramayana and 1200 year old Pazamozi in Tamil. They use the Sanskrit words and so they are taken from earlier Sanskrit books:-



It swallowed wholesale elephants, chariots, horses and all;

Then drank up the seven seas with their fish;

Then swallowed the clouds with their thunder,

Dharma herself, O wonder! was frightened

That is the wrath might not spare even her!


Some it dashed against Chakravala;

Some it rubbed against the outer wall;

Some it flung over the seven hills and killed;

some it disposed of with huge hands

in the darkness encircling eight directions


–Chapter “The slaying of Hiranyakasipu’, Yuddha Kanda of Kamba Ramayana


In the Aranya Kanda, Kamban compared the gigantic hands of demon Kabandha, that surrounded Rama and Lakshmana to Chakravala that encircles the earth and the oceans.

In Pazamoli, a post Sangam didactic work with 400 Tamil proverbs the poet says,


Even the Chakravala, the mountains encircling the earth, may be eroded; but the harsh words told by one would never disappear (forgotten); so one must never do acts that which spoils one.

Passing remarks like these throughout Tamil and Sanskrit literature point out to the mid ocean ridges.


Mid ocean ridges are the underwater mountain chain. They join and form the longest mountain chain on earth extending to 44,000 miles. All these things came to light in the past 100 years or so. But Hindus wrote about such a system and they used it as a common place simile. Every ancient literate Hindu knew about it.


Monier Williams Sanskrit dictionary gives the following meaning to Chakravala:


A mythical range of mountains encircling the orb of the earth and being the limit of light and darkness.


Now we know it is not mythical, but real.


Chakravalam is found in the Sanskrit thesaurus Amarakosa. Kalidasa in Raghuvamsa (13-7) says that oceans gave refuge to the mountains when Indra cut down he wings of the flying mountains. This is another reference to geological science. Millions of years ago big meteorites were falling on earth and then stopped. This is attributed to Indra in the scriptures. Even today millions of meteorites fall into earth but most of them are burnt in the atmosphere. Very rarely we see such ‘flying mountains’; one such big meteorite destroyed the Dinosaurs on earth six million years ago.


A lot of science materials come to light as and when science discovers something new. I have already written elsewhere about the future predictions of Hindus. We are not boasting after something new is discovered. I have written about what is going to be discovered.


My Tamil article on the same subject


  1. சக்ரவாள | Tamil and Vedasசக்ரவாள

கடலுக்கடியில் சக்ரவாள மலை: … – பெரிய சக்கரவாள மலை சூழ்ந்த …




Written by London Swaminathan

Date: 22  September 2018


Time uploaded in London – 9-49 am (British Summer Time)


Post No. 5457

Pictures shown here are taken from various sources including google, Wikipedia, Facebook friends and newspapers. This is a non- commercial blog.



NEW SCIENTIST magazine has organised a Science Exhibition in London Excel center for four days from september 20, 2018. I visited the exhibition on second day. There was a big and enthusiastic crowd mostly students with their teachers or parents.

Over 100 stalls were there from University departments, government departments, book publishers and private business selling from meteorites to robotic toys. Some of the talks were well attended.

As soon as I entered the site I saw the big stall by European Space Agency. They displayed the models of their future space probes.

What surprised me was a person buying two meteorites for 140 pounds. Such stones from space are available in plenty in India but without any scientific details. Meteorite business is a big business here. The stones that fell from the sky are scientifically analysed, recorded and documented. From tiny samples to big stones are displayed in two or three stalls. Two authors were selling their science books personally signing the copies. Freebies such as brain caps were given to school students in some stalls.


140 speakers are lined up for four day talks.


All of us emit radiation to some extent. Even bananas emit radiation. But all of us know the radiation from nuclear materials are harmful. Even smoke alarms at homes have radiation. A stall explained all these things and allowed us to measure the radiation from different objects. It was interesting and educating.


Geology stall explained all about earth quakes and the man warned me that India is due for a big earth quake (not political!) in the Himalayan range, so do California. But no one could predict or forecast when it is going to happen. Ganges, Sarasvati and other rivers changed their course during such past big earth quakes.


Most interesting was a robot which laughs when you tickle it in its head or cheeks.


Harvard Univesity Press displayed their latest science books. New Scientist is selling their books and magazine at a discounted price. I have taken some pictures which would explain more than words.



















Written by London Swaminathan

Date: 21  September 2018


Time uploaded in London – 18-13 (British Summer Time)


Post No. 5454

Pictures shown here are taken from various sources including google, Wikipedia, Facebook friends and newspapers. This is a non- commercial blog.



How did the British kill Napoleon Bonaparte?

Arsenic is an interesting element in the Periodic Table. It is linked to the death of several Popes, Napoleon Bonaparte and beer drinkers of Manchester.

Here below are given some interesting titbits

1.Napoleon Bonaparte

Napoleon I (1769-1821) was emperor of France. A general from 1796, overthrew the rulers and became dictator. From 1803 he conquered most of Europe and installed his brothers as puppet kings. After the Peninsular War and retreat from Moscow in 1812, he was forced to abdicate in 1814 and was banished to the island of Elba. In March 1815 he reassumed power but was defeated by the British and Prussian forces at the Battle of Waterloo and exiled to the island of St Helena where he died. His body was brought back to Paris in 1840. He was buried in Hotel des Invalides in Paris.

High levels of arsenic were detected in his hair when it was analysed by neutron activation analysis. It showed that he was exposed to the element. Some people think it was deliberately done to kill him. Arsenic is a slow killing poison. Modern research shows that it can happen from wall papers with fungal growth under damp conditions.
When a sample of wall paper from Longwood House, his home on St Helena, was found in a scrap book in 1980s  was analysed. The green pattern on it was an arsenic pigment.


How did they kill Popes?
In the past, Popes were also disposed of with slow killing arsenic poisoning. They called it ‘succession powder ‘ because it helped them to kill dukes, popes and kings. The average intake of arsenic in our daily food is up to one milligram. A lethal dose of arsenic oxide is generally 100 milligrams. The body can get rid of it with antidotes.

Horse Race and Charles Dickens
The stimulatory effect of arsenic was exploited by the unscrupulous race horse trainers. In small doses, arsenic stimulates the metabolism and boosts the formation of red blood cells; but prolonged exposure causes health problems

Arsenic was prescribed for all kinds of ailments, such as rheumatism, malaria, TB, and diabetes. It became popular with Dr Fowlers Solution. This was concocted in 1780 by the doctor. In the nineteenth century it was regarded a popular cure all, a general tonic and aphrodisiac, even Charles Dickens used it. It was often prescribed by doctors to aid convalescence.

For 5000 years, ancient civilisations have been using it. Even today it is used in Chinese medicines. More recently arsenic trioxide was approved by the US Food and Drugs Administration for treating a form of leukaemia.
It was used in World War I as a chemical weapon. It caused terrible blisters on skin.

In the 1900s beer drinkers in Manchester were affected by arsenic poisoning and seventy people were killed. In the Indian state of West Bengal high levels of arsenic are found in well waters. The Indian government issued chlorination tablets that will oxidise arsenic trioxide to form an insoluble salt with the iron that is present in the water.

Two more interesting titbits

Soil contaminated with arsenic can be cleaned by growing Chinese ladder fern Pteris vitiata.
According to Roman writer Pliny, emperor Caligula financed a project for making gold from Orpiment and some was produced but so small a quantity that the project was abandoned.

Source book- Natures building blocks by John Emsley.

Arsenic symbol –  As
Atomic number – 33
Atomic weight – 74.92160
Melting point – 616 C
It is a metalloid element.



COMPILED by London Swaminathan

Date: 5 September 2018


Time uploaded in London – 7-47 am (British Summer Time)


Post No. 5395


Hair contains lot of sulfur-containing amino acids, and these attract mercury and provide a permanent record of the person’s exposure to the element.

It was often the custom in earlier times to preserve locks of hair from those who had died. When these have been analysed by modern methods, curiously high levels of mercury have been found, leading some to suspect that the person was medically treated with calomel because they had syphilis or they had taken part in alchemical experiments and thereby breathed mercury vapour.

The hair of Isaac Newton (1642-1727) contains high levels of mercury, which  almost certainly came from his alchemical work because he was known to have been a celibate all his life; the mercury in the hair of Scottish poet Robert Burns (1759-96) suggests he had been treated for venereal disease. Napoleon’s hair also shows that he was probably given calomel when he was taken ill on St Helena, but this was not the cause of his death.

Mercury in hair does not always imply syphilis or alchemy. One of the saddest deaths of a scientist was that of Danish astronomer Tycho Brahe (1546-1601) who suffered with prostate trouble. At a royal banquet in Prague he dared not leave the table to relieve himself, with the result that his bladder split and he died of urinary poisoning a few days later. Analysis of a strand of hair, which had the root intact, showed that the day before he died he was given  a mercurial medicine in an effort to save his life. It has been tempting  to assume that when famous people were treated with mercury the reason was syphilis. King Henry VIII of England and Ivan the Terrible of Russia were both dosed this way. Charles II almost certainly  died of mercury poisoning  but probably not as a result of medical treatment, although he too might well have needed it as a result of notorious sex life. He was exposed to the metal while doing alchemical experiments which he carried out in poorly ventilated room in the palace.


The alchemists believed that mercury was unique. In their theory it was the element, a component of all metals, and so held the key to transmutation of base metals into gold. It uniquely represented the quintessential property of fluidity. Therefore reports from Siberia , that mercury could freeze solid, and thereby lose its elemental fluidity, were discounted as little more than traveler’s tale.


So it came as a shock to two Russian scientists, A.Braun ad M. Lomonosov, of St Petersburg when, on 26th December 1759, they experimented with snow to see how low a temperature they could achieve. A mixture of ice and salt can produce a temperature drop of many degrees below 0 degree C and they thought that mixing snow and acids might result in even lower temperatures, and so it did. Suddenly the mercury in their thermometer stopped moving, and appeared to have been solidified. Curious to know what had happened, they broke away the glass and found that the mercury in the bulb had become a solid metal ball with mercury  from the tube protruding like piece of wire, which they could bend, just like other metals. The belief that mercury was unique had been destroyed.

Cmemical Properties

Symbol Hg

Atomic Number 80

Atomic weight 200-59

Melting Point  Minus 39 C

Boiling Point 357 C

Oxide HgO


Mercury is a silvery metal and a member of the group 12 of the Periodic Table.


Source- Nature’s Building Blocks, John Emsley,2001


Element of Murder and Agatha Christie! (Post No.5389)



Date: 3 September 2018


Time uploaded in London – 7-54 am (British Summer Time)


Post No. 5389



Some interesting information about the element Thallium is given below:

Thallium is not a rare element; it is ten times more abundant than silver.
1.Thallium was once part of medical pharmacopeia, being prescribed by doctors as a hair remover and given as a pre treatment for ring worm of the scalp. Thallium did not kill the ringworm, but it caused a patients hair to drop out, so that the condition could be more easily treated.

2.A radio- active synthetic isotope thallium-201, which has the half- life of 73 hours, is used in the diagnosis of heart disease.

3.Murder Mystery
Murderers who poison people may think they are in the clear once their victim has been cremated. However, in the case of Graham Young it provided him with no such protection. His case became a milestone in forensic detection because the ashes of Bob Eagle, one of his victims, were reclaimed and analyse d by a technique known as atomic absorption Spectormetry. This revealed a level of 5 p.p.m. of thallium. This was well above any natural level of this element in cremated remains, and proof that he had been poisoned with it.

4.Agatha Christie’s element of murder

Agatha Christie is often blamed for bringing thallium sulfate to the attention of would be poisoners. Her detective story The Pale Horse, which was published in 1961, described the symptoms of thallium poisoning. It showed how this could easily be attributed to other causes- in this case to black magic curses. In the 1980s and 1990s the Iraqi regime used thallium sulfate to dispose of its opponents, who appeared to die of natural causes.

Agatha Christie s fictional story may also have suggested thallium as a suitable
Poison to Graham Young, who, in 1971, put thallium sulfate into his workmates coffee at a factory at Bovingdon in Hertfordshire, England. Several workers were taken ill and two died of a mysterious illness. It was only when Young himself suggested that the cause might be thallium, that the strange illness was correctly diagnosed.

Young was arrested, tried and found guilty of murder in 1972 and sentenced to life imprisonment. He had been previously on trial for poisoning his family and ordered to be detained in a secure prison for the criminally insane, but he was released after appearing to respond successfully to psychiatric treatment. He committed suicide in 1990.

Rat Poison
5.Not all thallium deaths are malicious. Some are accidental, such as the incident in Guyana in 1987 which affected hundreds of people, of whom 44 died, when they drank the milk from cows that had eaten molasses which had been poisoned with thallium sulfate in order to kill sugar cane rats .

Chemical symbol TI
Atomic number 81
Atomic weight 204.3833
Melting point 304 C
Boiling point 1457 C


6.Who discovered it? Another controversy!

British scientist William crookes,1832-1919 observed some thing in his experiment new and named it thallium .
But French scientist Claude August Lamy did thorough research and extracted thallium metal and so French credited him with the discovery! He was awarded a medal by the London exhibition committee. He sent the metal ingots to London exhibition. Crookes became furious and campaigned to withdraw the medal through his magazine. Eventually the exhibition committee felt obliged to award Crookes a medal also.

— Subham—-