The former Russian spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter are in a critical condition in a hospital in Salisbury, UK, following exposure to an unknown nerve agent. Several locations in the city have been cordoned off and decontaminated since the pair were found unconscious on a park bench on March 5. But what are nerve agents exactly and how do they affect the body?
The first nerve agents were invented by accident in the 1930s when researchers were trying to make cheaper and better alternatives to nicotine as insecticides. In their search, German scientists made two organic compounds containing phosphorus that were very effective at killing insect pests. However, they soon discovered that, even in minuscule amounts, the substances caused distressing symptoms in humans exposed to them.
The two substances – too toxic to be used as commercial insecticides in agriculture – became known as tabun and sarin. The research was handed over to the Wehrmacht (the Nazi armed forces), which evaluated them as weapons and began constructing plants to manufacture them. The sarin plant was not operational by the time the Third Reich collapsed, but fell in to the hands of Soviet forces that overran Poland and Germany.
We spend a lot of energy looking for shortcuts to save time, and sure, those shortcuts add up. But when I look back, my biggest time regrets aren't spending too much time on Twitter or mismanaging my daily tasks. Those are bad habits, but there are bigger, more systematic time wasters that have really gotten in the way. Fixing these will free up a massive amount of time and energy.
Bunnings is offering some great deals on outdoor items with free postage via Ebay. From eskies and gazebos to charcoal roasters, there's sure to be something you need at a great price. (The only thing you'll miss is the sausage.) Here are five handpicked highlights.