By Joel A. Vilensky
"Dr. Vilensky increases vital issues in regards to the threats posed via lewisite and different guns of mass destruction. As he describes, non-proliferation courses are a necessary part within the battle on Terror." -- Richard G. Lugar, usa Senator"Joel Vilensky's publication is a close and immensely important account of the advance and heritage of 1 of the foremost chemical weapons.... we'll regularly understand how to make lewisite, the 'Dew of Death,' yet that doesn't suggest that we should always, or be forced to just accept such guns in our lives." -- from the Foreword by way of Richard Butler, former head of UN targeted fee to Disarm IraqIn 1919, while the nice battle used to be over, the hot York instances said on a brand new chemical weapon with "the body spray of geranium blossoms," a poison gasoline that was once "the climax of this country's achievements within the deadly arts." The identify of this substance was once lewisite and this is often its tale -- the tale of an American weapon of mass destruction.Discovered unintentionally by way of a graduate scholar and priest in a chemistry laboratory on the Catholic collage of the US in Washington, D.C., lewisite used to be constructed right into a weapon by means of Winford Lewis, who turned its namesake, operating with a group led by means of James Conant, later president of Harvard and head of presidency oversight for the U.S.'s atomic bomb application, the long island undertaking. After a robust German counterattack within the spring of 1918, the govt started frantic construction of lewisite in hopes of supplying 3,000 lots of the stuff to be prepared to be used in Europe the subsequent yr. the tip of warfare got here simply because the first cargo used to be being ready. It used to be dumped into the ocean, yet no longer forgotten. Joel A. Vilensky tells the exciting tale of the invention and improvement of lewisite and its curious historical past. in the course of global struggle II, the United States produced greater than 20,000 lots of lewisite, checking out it on infantrymen and secretly shedding it from airplanes. in spite of everything, the substance used to be deserted as a weapon since it was once too risky lower than such a lot wrestle stipulations. yet a weapon as soon as came across by no means disappears. It used to be utilized by Japan in Manchuria and by way of Iraq in its warfare with Iran. The Soviet Union used to be an enormous producer. surprisingly adequate, even though it used to be constructed for deadly reasons, lewisite resulted in a good remedy for an extraordinary neurological illness.
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Extra info for Dew Of Death: The Story Of Lewisite, America's World War I Weapon Of Mass Destruction
One of the compounds Nieuwland combined with acetylene was an oily, odorous, highly poisonous liquid called arsenic trichloride, ironically referred to as arsenic butter. When Nieuwland ¤rst bubbled acetylene gas through arsenic trichloride, nothing happened. Nieuwland, undeterred, decided to perform the experiment a second time, using aluminum chloride as a catalyst. (A catalyst is a chemical agent that acts as an intermediary in a reaction, thus enabling it to occur. ) Nieuwland described the reaction that ensued: The contents of the ®ask turned black.
These sections investigated various methods of preparation, chemical properties, and physiological actions on animals and humans (as studied by the Pharmacological Section) of new agents. Unfortunately, partly because of the secrecy surrounding the lewisite research (both then and now), few details of these investigations are available. However, some information on both human and animal testing is known, thanks partly to the memory of Sergeant George Temple. Sergeant Temple was in charge of maintenance for the ¤fteen hundred electric motors at the AUES.
Nieuwland’s reputation attracted a Notre Dame student named Knute Rockne, who began studying for a master’s degree in chemistry under his guidance in 1914. After graduating, Rockne was hired by Nieuwland as his assistant. They worked together for three years and became close friends. One day Rockne noticed an advertisement for football coach and applied for the position. He was offered the job and became one of the most famous college football coaches in history. Nieuwland believed Rockne would have prospered as a chemist, but because Nieuwland also loved football he was only mildly disappointed when Rockne switched careers.