Dismiss Notice
Join Physics Forums Today!
The friendliest, high quality science and math community on the planet! Everyone who loves science is here!

Touching it could be dangerous

  1. Jun 1, 2007 #1

    As my username indicates, I am a screenwriter and would like to appeal to your knowledge. Could you tell me which element, if any, is dangerous to touch with your bare hands, to the point where you would have to be hospitalized after touching it ? The case of the Russian journalist poisoned with polonium last year comes to mind, but he indgested the substance. Powdered plutonium maybe ? Please help.

    Thanks very much for your input.
  2. jcsd
  3. Jun 1, 2007 #2
    Are you looking for something that would show immediate symptoms or something that would eventually require hospitalization? Also, are you looking for toxic, radioactive, or some other effect, or does it not matter?
  4. Jun 1, 2007 #3
    Something that would show symptoms immediately. As for the effect, it doesn't really matter, as long as the guy who touches the object that has been sprayed with the substance collapses or feels so ill that he would go to a hospital. But he has to stay alive.

    Thanks a lot for you collaboration !
  5. Jun 1, 2007 #4


    User Avatar
    Gold Member

    An aqueous solution of << deleted by berkeman -- sorry turbo-1 >> might fit the bill (absorption through skin), as long as the victim didn't get too high a dose and die.
    Last edited by a moderator: Jun 1, 2007
  6. Jun 1, 2007 #5


    User Avatar

    Staff: Mentor

    Welcome to the PF, Screenwriter. This is a great place, but I do need to warn you that threads about how to kill or seriously injure people are generally frowned upon here. We do not teach people how to build bombs or how to make biological weapons, etc.

    Although I understand that you say you are working on a screenplay or book or whatever, we still should not be discussing the best ways to make something that can hurt or kill somebody. I will lock and delete this thread if it goes much farther in specific details of substances or methods of killing a person.

    Instead, since you are writing a screenplay or book, I would challenge you to come up with something creative that in reality would not work (if somebody followed your information and tried to actually hurt someone), but sounds very plausible. One example of this kind of responsible writing is Tom Clancy's "Sum of all Fears", where he described in great detail how the atomic bomb was assembled by the terrorists. Except he was careful to state a few steps incorrectly (you wouldn't know which ones unless you were an expert with that knowledge already). Any guess why he did that?
    Last edited: Jun 1, 2007
  7. Jun 1, 2007 #6
    Any information I would have provided is readily available through an internet search.
  8. Jun 1, 2007 #7
    In answer to the question, a radiological agent that causes immediate symptoms would eventualy be lethal regardless of medical treatment. My last job had a product catalogue of chemicals that had the information that is on the product safety label (you know, the 1 - 4 rating for level of danger, whetehr its corrosive, flammable, etc.). I don't remember the name of the catalog, but you may be able to find something like that in the library. Obviously, certain nerve agents could accomplish what you ask, but I'm by no means familar with what they could be.
  9. Jun 1, 2007 #8
    I understand your position Berkeman, but do not share the view that scientists or artists, are responsible for the improper use of the concepts and ideas they communicate. If it was the case, probably half of fiction writers and of the scientists would be in default. And do you really think that Tom Clancy's keeping information pertaining to the atomic bomb out of his book saved lives? I don’t think people who are serious about building weapons of mass destruction go to novelists for scientific expertise.

    On the other hand I understand that you want to keep answers to the type of question I'm asking from circulating on your site because large portions of it would be flooded by them.

    Thanks to all who wanted to help and a good week-end to everyone !
  10. Jun 1, 2007 #9


    User Avatar

    Staff: Mentor

    BTW, did you read the recent Clancy novel where Jack Ryan junior start working for the CIA or whoever it was? And the two special ops guys use the new technique for assasination? That's the kind of creative stuff I was referring to -- very plausible technique, but not something that can be made, given the information in the novel.

    You have a good weekend as well, and welcome again to the PF.
Know someone interested in this topic? Share this thread via Reddit, Google+, Twitter, or Facebook

Have something to add?

Similar Discussions: Touching it could be dangerous
  1. Dangers of the LHC (Replies: 33)

  2. Odd question: danger? (Replies: 5)

  3. Could you stop a nuke? (Replies: 3)