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  1. mooeypoo
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    mooeypoo New Member

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    Benign Science Gone Bad

    Discussion in 'Research' started by mooeypoo, Nov 2, 2007.

    Hey peeps,

    I'm trying to find a list of scientific discoveries that had a benign purpose behind them at first but then got used for something else, horrible and evil, or killing.

    Most weapons would fit, but I am not sure I thought of enough examples.

    I'll give one, just to show what I mean:

    Prussian Blue (Hydrogen Cyanide) is a pigment discovered by accident in 1704 by a German chemist. It was the first stable manifactured pigment, it didn't fade as much as the other colors of its time, so it was used mainly for building-drawings (that need long lifespan) -- which is the origin of the name "Blue Print".
    In 1782 the color was experimented on further, and was mixed with sulfuric acid and then dissolved in water, to produce a powder later called "Cyanide" (from the greek word "Kyanos" - blue).
    Prussian Blue is hydrogen cyanide. In 1940 it was used on a group of men, women and children as an extermination method by the germans. The new hydrogen cyanide - mixed with solids to make it last longer - was called Zyklon B. You could still witness the benign history of hydrogen cyanide through the blue pigment spots that fill the walls of the gas chambers in the Nazi death camps.

    ---

    Do you guys have any other ideas for Good Science that was USED for horrible things?


    Thanks in advance :)

    ~moo
     
  2. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    Tech note - hydrogen cyanide is a colorless gas. Prussian Blue is a complex salt ferric ferrocyanide, which when acted upon by strong acids can liberate hydrogen cyanide gas. Hydrogen cyanide in water is called hydrocyanic acid, which can be combined with potassium hydroxide of potassium carbonate to produce potassium cyanide.

    the actual toxic substance is hydrogen cyanide. Potassium cyanide reacts with hydrochloric acid in the stomach to produce hydrogen cyanide, so potassium cyanide is also highly poisonous.

    Prussian Blue itself is not highly toxic, and in fact most chemistry sets in the 1950s and 1960s contained experinents to make Prussian Blue from sodium ferrocyanide and ferric ammonium sulfate.

    Alfred Nobel invented an explosive of nitroglycerine stabilized in nitrocellose, which he named dynamite. He intended it to be used for mining and other constructive purposes, but it made it practical for soldiers to carry explosives and use them against enemy troops. Nobel, appalled at the use of his invention for killing, established an annual prize for peaceful uses of science.

    Gasoline was invented as a clean fuel for internal combustion engines (clean relative to other fules available at the time). Then it was combined with an inert material to make it the gelatinous material known as napalm.

    Teflon was a fluorocarbon plastic that was found to be resistant to most chemicals and prevented most materials from sticking to it. It's most popular use has been for nonstick cookwear. But someone came up with the brilliant idea of coating bullets with Teflon, creating ordnance that penetrated most "bulletproof" vests.
     
  3. Domoviye
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    Domoviye Contributing Member

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    Most nuclear physicists of the 1920's and 30's were researching nuclear fission to understand the universe, and to find a new means to create energy. Only when WW2 started with Hitler looking invincible, and rumours that he was trying to create nuclear bombs, did Einstein and his colleagues go the US government and offer to build one.

    LSD-25 (d-lysergic acid diethylamide) was created in the 1930's. In 1943 it was discovered that it could affect the minds of mental patients. In the 1950's researchers put a lot of effort creating a more refined form of the drug. They were trying to use it to calm people suffering from mental problems. They were hoping to make prozac, and ended up with a very powerful hallucinogen that was cheap and if you had the instructions relatively easy to make. The research got out and now drug addicts all over the world are using to get high.
     
  4. mooeypoo
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    mooeypoo New Member

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    You're absolutely right, my point was that it was developed out of Prussian Blue, not that it *is* Prussian Blue. I stand corrected.



    Yeah, but that ws intended from the beginning to be an explosive.. not sure if it works for my idea. I was thinking more along the lines of Gunpowder -- that was discovered at first in China as part of the search for the elixir of life..


    I didn't know that.. Thanks!

    [/quote]Teflon was a fluorocarbon plastic that was found to be resistant to most chemicals and prevented most materials from sticking to it. It's most popular use has been for nonstick cookwear. But someone came up with the brilliant idea of coating bullets with Teflon, creating ordnance that penetrated most "bulletproof" vests.[/quote]
    wow.. I didn't know that either. Awesome.

    Well.. maybe "Awesome" isn't the right pick of words, considering the subject, but it's still very helpful :)

    Thanks!!

    ~moo
     
  5. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    One more thing - scientific discoveries are neither beneficial nor harmful. They don'yt have a purpose other than the search for truth.

    Inventions are the application of science to attempt to solve a problem. The problem being addressed is where value judgements come in. The problem may be "How do we maximize yield of food crops?" or "How do we kill as many people as possible at once?"

    Organophosphates were first developed as insecticides in the early 1900s. However, some of them were found to be amazingly lethal to higher organisms, even at very small doses, because of their effect on the central nervous system. This discovery led to the creation of deadly neurotoxins, including inhalable ones popularly referred to as "nerve gas".
     
  6. mooeypoo
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    mooeypoo New Member

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    Yeah I agree, but they can be used for a bad purpose; misused, for that matter.

    You know how in all these cheesy science fiction movies, advanced alien civilizations come to earth but do not want to share technology because they fear humanity will kill itself with it? Well my story isn't as cheesy, but it has a part of it working on a similar idea... so I want to give examples to why such a group (I don't write about aliens this time) won't share technological advancements and why that fear may be justified.

    I'm planning to play on the ethical side of such a decision, presenting both sides.. I need examples for that purpose.

    So yeah, I agree that science per sae does not do "good" and "bad" discoveries, but the bottom line is that discoveries ARE used for killing or murder, things like that, unfortunately, and those could help explaining my point.

    ~moo
     
  7. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    sadly, humans are 'smart' enough to turn anything that has a good use into something that will kill or otherwise harm each other and their very habitat... they're either not smart enough to stop doing that, or they just don't give a flying fleep...

    if any sentient beings are smart enough to come here from far off in the universe, they'd probably be smart enough to not let us know they're here and/or to not hand us any of their technology for us to do the same things with... sadly, they might also be like humans and do the same themselves... in which case they'd still not hand us stuff we would probably use against them, too...
     
  8. mooeypoo
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    mooeypoo New Member

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    That's a good point... but my story isn't about aliens ;) It uses the first point you made though, which is why I want to give examples of it, to make my point and prepare the reader for the real ethical dilemma later.

    ~moo
     
  9. lordofhats
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    lordofhats Contributing Member

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    I can think fo a few classics:

    Cloning
    Time Travel (Like the butterfly effect thing)
    Manipulation of quantum mechanics (If you've ever seen Noien)
    Genetic Manipulation
     

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