In this issue

Jonathan Tobin: Defending the Right to a Jewish State

Heather Hale: Compliment your kids without giving them big heads

Megan Shauri: 10 ways you are ruining your own happiness

Carolyn Bigda: 8 Best Dividend Stocks for 2015

Kiplinger's Personal Finance editors: 7 Things You Didn't Know About Paying Off Student Loans

Samantha Olson: The Crucial Mistake 55% Of Parents Are Making At Their Baby's Bedtime

Densie Well, Ph.D., R.D. Open your eyes to yellow vegetables

The Kosher Gourmet by Megan Gordon With its colorful cache of purples and oranges and reds, COLLARD GREEN SLAW is a marvelous mood booster --- not to mention just downright delish
April 18, 2014

Rabbi Yonason Goldson: Clarifying one of the greatest philosophical conundrums in theology

Caroline B. Glick: The disappearance of US will

Megan Wallgren: 10 things I've learned from my teenagers

Lizette Borreli: Green Tea Boosts Brain Power, May Help Treat Dementia

John Ericson: Trying hard to be 'positive' but never succeeding? Blame Your Brain

The Kosher Gourmet by Julie Rothman Almondy, flourless torta del re (Italian king's cake), has royal roots, is simple to make, . . . but devour it because it's simply delicious

April 14, 2014

Rabbi Dr Naftali Brawer: Passover frees us from the tyranny of time

Greg Crosby: Passing Over Religion

Eric Schulzke: First degree: How America really recovered from a murder epidemic

Georgia Lee: When love is not enough: Teaching your kids about the realities of adult relationships

Cameron Huddleston: Freebies for Your Lawn and Garden

Gordon Pape: How you can tell if your financial adviser is setting you up for potential ruin

Dana Dovey: Up to 500,000 people die each year from hepatitis C-related liver disease. New Treatment Has Over 90% Success Rate

Justin Caba: Eating Watermelon Can Help Control High Blood Pressure

The Kosher Gourmet by Joshua E. London and Lou Marmon Don't dare pass over these Pesach picks for Manischewitz!

April 11, 2014

Rabbi Hillel Goldberg: Silence is much more than golden

Caroline B. Glick: Forgetting freedom at Passover

Susan Swann: How to value a child for who he is, not just what he does

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Financial Tasks You Should Tackle Right Now

Sandra Block and Lisa Gerstner: How to Profit From Your Passion

Susan Scutti: A Simple Blood Test Might Soon Diagnose Cancer

Chris Weller: Have A Slow Metabolism? Let Science Speed It Up For You

The Kosher Gourmet by Diane Rossen Worthington Whitefish Terrine: A French take on gefilte fish

April 9, 2014

Jonathan Tobin: Why Did Kerry Lie About Israeli Blame?

Samuel G. Freedman: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Jessica Ivins: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Kim Giles: Asking for help is not weakness

Kathy Kristof and Barbara Hoch Marcus: 7 Great Growth Israeli Stocks

Matthew Mientka: How Beans, Peas, And Chickpeas Cleanse Bad Cholesterol and Lowers Risk of Heart Disease

Sabrina Bachai: 5 At-Home Treatments For Headaches

The Kosher Gourmet by Daniel Neman Have yourself a matzo ball: The secrets bubby never told you and recipes she could have never imagined

April 8, 2014

Lori Nawyn: At Your Wit's End and Back: Finding Peace

Susan B. Garland and Rachel L. Sheedy: Strategies Married Couples Can Use to Boost Benefits

David Muhlbaum: Smart Tax Deductions Non-Itemizers Can Claim

Jill Weisenberger, M.S., R.D.N., C.D.E : Before You Lose Your Mental Edge

Dana Dovey: Coffee Drinkers Rejoice! Your Cup Of Joe Can Prevent Death From Liver Disease

Chris Weller: Electric 'Thinking Cap' Puts Your Brain Power Into High Gear

The Kosher Gourmet by Marlene Parrish A gift of hazelnuts keeps giving --- for a variety of nutty recipes: Entree, side, soup, dessert

April 4, 2014

Rabbi David Gutterman: The Word for Nothing Means Everything

Charles Krauthammer: Kerry's folly, Chapter 3

Amy Peterson: A life of love: How to build lasting relationships with your children

John Ericson: Older Women: Save Your Heart, Prevent Stroke Don't Drink Diet

John Ericson: Why 50 million Americans will still have spring allergies after taking meds

Cameron Huddleston: Best and Worst Buys of April 2014

Stacy Rapacon: Great Mutual Funds for Young Investors

Sarah Boesveld: Teacher keeps promise to mail thousands of former students letters written by their past selves

The Kosher Gourmet by Sharon Thompson Anyone can make a salad, you say. But can they make a great salad? (SECRETS, TESTED TECHNIQUES + 4 RECIPES, INCLUDING DRESSINGS)

April 2, 2014

Paul Greenberg: Death and joy in the spring

Dan Barry: Should South Carolina Jews be forced to maintain this chimney built by Germans serving the Nazis?

Mayra Bitsko: Save me! An alien took over my child's personality

Frank Clayton: Get happy: 20 scientifically proven happiness activities

Susan Scutti: It's Genetic! Obesity and the 'Carb Breakdown' Gene

Lecia Bushak: Why Hand Sanitizer May Actually Harm Your Health

Stacy Rapacon: Great Funds You Can Own for $500 or Less

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Ways to Save on Home Decor

The Kosher Gourmet by Steve Petusevsky Exploring ingredients as edible-stuffed containers (TWO RECIPES + TIPS & TECHINQUES)

Jewish World Review

How Stuff Works: How poisons work

By Marshall Brain

Printer Friendly Version
Email this article

http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | (MCT) Just about every day we hear about different poisons. You probably know that carbon monoxide can kill you, and so can cyanide. Lead is a poison that is in the news all the time. Occasionally you will see a story about someone eating a poison mushroom or eating a poisonous Castor bean.

The question is, what makes a poison a poison? Why do people die if they eat a certain type of plant or breathe a certain gas?

Although every poison works differently, they all do the same thing. Poisons get into your body and gum up something essential in your body's cells. Without that essential something, your cells die, and so do you.

Take, for example, the gas known as carbon monoxide. This poison is produced when things burn. Car exhaust contains carbon monoxide. If you have a furnace that burns oil or natural gas, it can produce carbon monoxide (and has an exhaust stack that sends the carbon monoxide outside). If you have a fireplace and the chimney doesn't work properly, burning wood will send carbon monoxide into your home.

When you inhale carbon monoxide, it enters your lungs. Inside your lungs, the goal is for red blood cells to release carbon dioxide and to pick up oxygen. But if there is carbon monoxide in the air, it locks into red blood cells at the place where the oxygen normally attaches. And once in a red blood cell, it is very hard to get the carbon monoxide out. Eventually, if you breathe enough of it, all of your red blood cells get polluted with carbon monoxide and cannot carry any oxygen. At that point, all of the cells in your body suffocate from lack of oxygen, and you die.

Lead is another common poison, and is especially harmful in growing children. The problem with lead is that, to your cells, lead looks a lot like other metal atoms like iron and calcium. Lead replaces calcium in bones. It also replaces calcium that is used inside the brain to keep your neurons firing properly. In children this causes the brain to develop and function incorrectly, leading to lower intelligence and other problems.

Arsenic is a poison made famous by the play "Arsenic and Old Lace." Less than a gram of it will kill an adult. Like lead, it poisons by mimicry. In the case of arsenic, it mimics phosphate. Phosphate, it turns out, is essential to the chemical reaction that provides human cells with energy. So arsenic essentially cuts off the energy supply to all the cells in your body, and you die.

Castor beans contain a poison known as ricin. Ricin is a protein that enters cells and attaches to ribosomes. Once attached, the ribosomes stop working. Ribosomes are essential to your cells because they manufacture all the proteins and enzymes used inside the cell. Without the ability to create new enzymes, your cells eventually die. And so do you. Death cap mushrooms contain a chemical that gums up another part of the protein assembly line.

Acetaminophen, the common pain killer best known as Tylenol, is a liver poison if you take too much. In the normal case, the liver processes Acetaminophen and eliminates it from the blood stream. This is why you have to take Acetaminophen every few hours. But if you take too much Acetaminophen (say 10 grams of it), the normal process gets overwhelmed. The liver then uses a different process, which creates a chemical that kills liver cells. Without a liver, you die.

And then there is cyanide, which acts very quickly. A cyanide molecule, like carbon monoxide, takes up a place where oxygen binds to iron. In this case, the iron is part of the energy-production machinery in your cells. The cells can't produce energy and die in just a few minutes. Because cyanide is so quick, it has been a common poison used in gas chambers and suicide pills.

Your body is a very complex and fascinating chemical machine containing millions of different chemical reactions. All of these poisons disrupt a chemical reaction in some way. To be a deadly poison, all the chemical has to do is disrupt a chain that is essential to life.

Every weekday JewishWorldReview.com publishes what many in the media and Washington consider "must-reading". Sign up for the daily JWR update. It's free. Just click here.

Comment by clicking here.


How corn works
How dog ID chips work
How President Obama's limousine works
How emergency power works
How aircraft carriers work
How antibiotics and vaccines work
How mucus works
How iron and steel work
How aspirin works
How igloos work
How the Predator UAV works
How retention ponds work
How water absorbers work
How melamine works
How digital music works
How coal mining works
How an economic depression works
How the liver works
How 3D movies work
How oil pipelines work
How jet packs work
How seismographs work
How Olympic technology works
How Personal Rapid Transit works
How 3G works
How the Global Position System (GPS) works
How octane works
How cruise missiles work
How submarines work
How miles work
How octane works
How food preservation works
How beer works
How holding your breath works
How smoke detectors work
How heat pumps work
How your night vision works
How concentrating solar collectors work
How your key fob works
How the common cold works
How the Large Hadron Collider Works
How making a TV show works
How dry cleaning works
How exoskeletons work
How an oil refinery works
How landfills work
How the Orion spacecraft works
The cutting edge in HDTV
Redefining the CD
How the HDMI cable scam works
How glow-in-the-dark toys work
How the subprime mortgage crisis works
How gift cards work
How Tasers work
How giant TV screens work
How foreclosure works
How Air Force One works
How wildfire fighting works
How vitamins work
How ejection seats work
How reattaching limbs works
How hot air balloons work
How paparazzi work
How counterfeiting works
How CDs work
How the Edsel worked
How Stinger missiles work
How hybrid cars work
How sharks work
How mosquitoes work
How diesel engines work
How water towers work
How the Dawn mission works
How Kassam rockets work
How the North American Eagle works
Why aren't we flying to work?
How tofu and soy milk work
How Colony Collapse Disorder works
How airbags work
How the U.S. income tax works
How gum works
How caffeine works
How Daylight Saving Time works
How a cruise missile works
How snow making works

© 2007, How Stuff Works Inc. Distributed by McClatchy-Tribune Information Services.