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Sarin Gas and other Nerve Agents

Uploaded by rmulder on Nov 09, 2002

The arms race has always been occurring, as people endlessly compete to have more power and better weapons. This century great leaps in technology have been made, explosives and bombs have been the main weapon of development. However the problem with bombs is that they destroy everything they hit, not only do they destroy the designated target but also everything else around it. This renders the land and buildings in the hit zone useless, and causes more damage than is necessary. This problem especially arises when the targets are human, and you only want to destroy them. The answer to this problem was biological and chemical weapons. Lethal gases such as Sarin gas are used throughout the world in a new age of biological and chemical warfare. Though illegal they are still being used in terrorist attacks and wars today. These weapons are more commonly known in the scientific world as nerve agents or nerve gases of which there are over 2000 varieties, but they are only one type of chemical warfare. They were discovered completely by accident in 1930 by a chemist called Dr. Gerhard Schrader who worked for a company called “IG Farben”, he discovered nerve agents while trying to create a more effective insecticide. What he came across was Tabun, an enormously toxic organophosphate compound. Organophosphates kill insects and humans by jamming the nervous system, which is why he was using it to try and develop an insecticide. After two more years of development he created an even stronger gas Sarin.


Looking back over the centuries, it seems chemical warfare has been in use ever since fighting between people started. The first recorded evidence of chemical weapons was in 400bc, when Spartan Greeks used Sulphur fumes against enemy soldiers. Sulphur was not very efficient and rarely killed, but often disorientated or knocked out the victim(s). Gradually over the year’s chemical warfare developed, from the early use of poisons like cyanide for assassinations to the invention of nerve gases such as Sarin.

The first real use of nerve agents was during World war one on April 22, 1915. During the battle of Ypres, the Germans utilised nerve agents for the first time ever for war purposes. They unleashed a deadly new gas called “chlorine gas”(CL2) on the British and French in a trail run. It was estimated that this new blistering agent cost over 5000 lives. In retaliation to...

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Uploaded by:   rmulder

Date:   11/09/2002

Category:   Chemistry

Length:   10 pages (2,169 words)

Views:   3124

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