Tag Archives: Puff the Mutant Dragon

From the early history of pesticides…

From the post “Sunrise in the Garden of Dreams”, on the “Puff the Mutant Dragon” chemistry blog: 

“Gerhard Schrader had been feeling sick for a while, but he didn’t realize how ill he was until he tried to drive home. There was something wrong with his eyes. He felt like he was going blind; he could hardly see the road, and it was becoming difficult and painful to breathe. It was a struggle for him to get home. When he finally reached the house, he peered into the mirror through his glasses, straining to see his own reflection. He discovered with surprise that the pupils of his eyes had shrunk to tiny pinpoints.

Chemist that he was, Schrader quickly guessed what had happened. Schrader worked at IG Farben, at that time in 1936 the world’s largest chemical company. He’d recently completed the initial synthesis of a new compound — a clear apple-scented liquid. Its sweet scent belied its real nature, however, for while he now knew the chemical’s vapor must be quite toxic, he didn’t yet realize how dangerous it was, or how close he’d come to an agonizing death. Continue reading


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Of dairy queens and human cheese

From Puff the Mutant Dragon blog:

Calvin and Hobbes comic strip via Puff the Mutant Dragon blog.

“A couple of years ago, an enterprising New York chef made headlines by serving cheese made from his wife’s breast milk. His stunt provoked a swift reaction from the New York Health Department, which didn’t seem to find this novelty menu item amusing. Despite his venture’s unsuccessful end, a London ice cream parlor tried to imitate him last year by selling a breast-milk-based product.

Do you find the idea of human cheese and ice cream bizarre? Disturbing? If so, it’s not very difficult to see why. What’s more difficult to explain is how we came to drink milk from other mammals in the first place. Continue reading

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Meat, sex and drugs

From Puff the Mutant Dragon:

Google image via Puff the Mutant Dragon

“This is a GoogleMaps picture of a farm near Goldsboro in North Carolina (map). The two salami-colored ponds on either side are lagoons, but not the kind where you want to swim. They’re open basins full of feces. To get a feel for the size, try comparing them with the cars in the dirt lot. As the Google Map will demonstrate, there are several more of these lagoons situated nearby. (You can imagine the breeze downwind of these facilities must have a rather bracing quality to it, especially on warm summer afternoons.) Continue reading


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