Johnson covers the J. Chem. Ed. recently penned by Prof. João Paulo André, of the Universidade de Minho to celebrate the storied use of poisons in opera. I hadn't realized, honestly, that this rich history involved poisons from such a wide variety of plants, minerals, and animals, or that specific references to each substance can be found in the libretti. Fascinating!
Unfortunately, the graphic that accompanies the story takes a few chemical liberties, which I've circled:
(Update 4/7/13 - I should point out that more structures are right than wrong here, which a commenter points out is more than you usually see in mainstream media. Kudos to the BG for covering the article the way they have)
I've written a short note to the author, reprinted below, and I will post any response I receive.
Good afternoon! My name is See Arr Oh (a pseudonym), and I blog at Just Like Cooking, a chemistry blog aimed at general-interest audiences.I noticed your article in today's Globe, and I want to applaud you for your outreach. The article is well-written, and the science seems solid.http://www.bostonglobe.com/
ideas/2013/04/06/treasury- opera-poisonings/ gKPw3zoiVNx7mZeRK1p0KL/story. htmlHowever, the image that accompanies your article includes several inaccurate structures for the discussed poisons. For example, the structures of mannitol don't show explicit stereochemistry (3D structure); these might well be glucose drawn this way.Scheele's Green is actually a copper complex; trimethylarsine is the poisonous gas that evolves from the dye. Arsenic trioxide and mercuric sulfide aren't actually monomeric, as drawn, but adopt several different crystal forms involving multiple As and Hg atoms, respectively.Finally, the neurotoxin shown in the "snake venom" box is not actually venom, rather, it's anatoxin-a, from blue-green algae.Please consider changes to the illustration. If you need anything further, don't hesitate to contact me at seearroh_AT_gmail.comSincerely,See Arr Oh