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How the Nazis Invented Nerve Agents

They were actually trying to kill insects that were destroying their food supply.

In the latest episode of Speaking of Chemistry, the American Chemical Society discusses the birth of nerve agents, arguably the most brutal chemical weapons.

These infamous compounds, which include sarin gas and VX, originated in Nazi Germany when a chemist was trying to develop a more effective insecticide.

Marrying the element phosphorus with cyanide derivatives resulted in a poison so deadly it was named "Tabun," derived from the German word for "taboo."

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