Special Sub-Topic: Toxic Trivia
|In 'The Sign of Four', the story opens with a detailed description of Sherlock Holmes injecting himself with a seven percent solution of which toxic substance?|
Cocaine. Watson asks Holmes 'Which is it today, morphine or cocaine?' to which Holmes replies 'It is cocaine, a seven percent solution. Would you care to try it?' Watson declines and warns him 'Count the cost. Your brain may, as you say, be roused and excited, but it is a pathological and morbid process which involves tissue change and may at least leave a permanent weakness.'
|Which country is home to the nine most poisonous arachnids and ten most poisonous snakes in the world?|
Australia. The nine most poisonous arachnids include the funnel-web, the red-back and fiddle-back spiders, the scrub or paralysis tick and scorpions. The ten most poisonous snakes include the tiger snake, taipan, death adder, dugite, sea snakes, black and brown snakes (several varieties).
|Australia is home to many poisonous sea creatures, including the world's only poisonous starfish. What is the name of this starfish?|
the Crown of Thorns starfish. The Crown of Thorns starfish is very large (often up to 45 cm or 18 inches in diameter) and has 12 to 19 arms. It is found throughout the South Pacific, especially on the Great Barrier Reef.
|'Blackjack disease' is a skin condition sometimes found in card players who are in prolonged contact with the green felt on card tables. Which toxic substance in the material causes this?|
Chromium. 'Blackjack disease' is a type of contact dermatitis. The symptoms are a red rash, itching, swelling and usually blisters.
|Which famous author wrote her first novel while working in a hospital pharmacy as a dispenser?|
Agatha Christie. Agatha Christie learned a lot about poisons as a result of this job, hence many of her novels feature poisoning as a method of murder. Her first novel, 'The Mysterious Affair At Styles', introduced Hercule Poirot and Captain Hastings. Needless to say, the plot involved murder by poison.
|What type of poisoning are you suffering from if you experience the 'dry ice phenomenon' (where hot seems cold, and vice versa)?|
Ciguatera. Ciguatera poisoning is caused by eating fish such as sea bass and snapper in the Carribean. It is not known exactly why these fish which can be eaten in other areas of the world become toxic in the Carribean. The other three answers are also related to poisoning by ingestion of fish.
|Which king of England was allegedly murdered or subjected to euthanasia (depending on your point of view) by his personal physician via a lethal injection of cocaine and morphine?|
King George V. King George V of England died in 1936. He had terminal cancer. The public was led to believe he had passed away peacefully. However, it was subsequently revealed that the King's personal physician, Lord Dawson, had carried out euthanasia at the King's request. Dawson recorded in his diary that he decided to terminate the King's life in the late evening, so that the announcement of George's death should first appear in the next morning's Times, rather than risk it appearing in the socially inferior afternoon papers.
|In September 1994, professional tennis player Vitas Gerulaitis died of poisoning by which toxic gas?|
Carbon monoxide. Carbon monoxide poisoning is the number one cause of death by poisoning in the USA each year. Vitas Gerulaitis died while taking a nap at a friend's house in Long Island. Carbon monoxide from a swimming pool heater seeped into his room through the air-conditioning system.
|This famous English politician was well-known for his wit. There is a popular story that Nancy Astor, an MP, declared in the House of Commons 'If I were married to you, I'd put poison in your coffee', to which he replied 'Nancy, if you were my wife, I'd drink it'. Which politician was responsible for this quip?|
Winston Churchill. It is also alleged that Bessie Braddock, another female MP, upon seeing Churchill intoxicated, said 'Winston you're drunk' and Churchill replied 'Bessie, you're ugly. But tomorrow I shall be sober'.
|Which popular drink, originally invented as a medicine in 1885, contained minute amounts of cocaine until 1929?|
Coca-Cola. Coca-Cola was named in 1885 for its two 'medicinal' ingredients: extract of coca leaves and kola nuts. The coca leaf contained minute traces of cocaine. Coca-Cola didn't become completely cocaine-free until 1929.
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