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  • Germany, 1939

  • In a secret bunker on the German-Polish border

  • Nazi agents were overseeing the production of a recently discovered chemical

  • they'd code-named "Substance N"

  • It boiled when they exposed it to air,

  • It exploded when it touched water, it was lethal when inhaled,

  • and when it decomposed it spit out deadly hydrofluoric acid.

  • When loaded into a flamethrower and ignited it could burn at

  • temperatures over 2400°C

  • The plan was to arm troops with "Substance N"

  • and use it to melt allied bunkers into hot porridge

  • But then after studying it for a while even the German soldiers were like

  • "Whoa." experiments with "Substance N" were discontinued because

  • the Nazis decided it was to dangerous to work with.

  • Should give you some kind of sense of what we're dealing with

  • here when we talk about the most dangerous chemicals in the world.

  • I'm talking about things that explode when you touch them,

  • things so poisonous that if even a millionth of a gram went up your nose, it would end up killing you

  • things that could even disable you because of their totally, debilitatingly, horrifying smell,

  • and yes, chemicals so severe, that even the Nazis thought they were crazy.

  • Let's start with what the Germans had in that secret weapons bunker

  • They originally planned to produce 90 tons of the stuff every month

  • but only made about 30 tons throughout the whole war

  • what they'd concocted was chlorine trifluoride,

  • the most vigorous fluorinating agent known to humanity

  • fluorinating agents rip other molecules apart to replace their hydrogen atoms with fluorine

  • the result is what chemists called a 'violently exothermic reaction',

  • in this case known as a fluorine fire

  • it's much more dangerous to handle than even fluorine gas,

  • which as anyone with a degree in chemistry could tell you

  • is not a sentence that you get to say very often

  • it's also a better oxidizer than oxygen

  • oxidizers are compounds that steal electrons from other chemicals in a reaction

  • and they are what make combustion possible.

  • chlorine trifluoride is so good at this, that it can burn stuff that sane people might think of as non flammable, like

  • bricks or asbestos or things that have already been burned

  • oxidizers are also used to ignite rocket fuel and in

  • the very short time that us rocket scientists thought about using this stuff as a propellant,

  • they quickly learned that this idea was bad

  • and the early 1950s, the first time that US scientists tried to ship chlorine trifluoride in bulk

  • the steel tank cracked and a full ton of it spilled out

  • it burned so hot that the chemical ate through an entire concrete floor

  • and then a meter of dirt and gravel beneath that

  • One eye-witness described the spill only by saying

  • "The concrete...was on fire!"

  • Chlorine trifluoride is still manufactured and is used by semi-conductor companies to clean their equipment

  • to within an inch of its life.

  • The good news is that you can store it safely in a regular steel drum

  • as long as it's air-tight and you're really, really careful,

  • because, it instantly scorches the inside lining of the container

  • leaving behind a nonreactive plating of metallic fluoride.

  • Nonreactive is not a word that we're gonna need when discussing the next chemical on our list

  • "Azidoazide azide", the most explosive chemical compound ever created

  • This twitchy little compound is a part of a class of chemicals known as

  • "High nitrogen energetic materials"

  • And it does what it does because nitrogen just wants to be left alone

  • A nitrogen atom bonded with another nitrogen atom is one of the most stable molecules on earth

  • Their electrons form an extremely strong triple bond with each other,

  • which, in nature can usually only be broken by a molecule being hit by lightning

  • The strength of that bond means that when two nitrogen atoms snap together,

  • they release a tremendous amount of energy.

  • So if you look in a molecule of AA.. We're gonna call it AA cause Azidoazide Azide is hard

  • You can see how it gets its bang.

  • It has 14 nitrogen atoms and because of the way the molecule was structured,

  • None of them are in a triple bond.

  • Instead, they're stuck in a loosely bound high-energy state

  • and are dying to move to a more stable lower energy state

  • which means releasing a lot of pent-up energy in the process.

  • As a result, AA is both highly reactive and heck-a explosive.

  • How sensitive is this stuff? Well, it's actually hard to say, because it's too sensitive

  • even to measure how sensitive it is.

  • A team of German chemists created it in 2010 with the help of the US army,

  • in an effort to develop more energetic compounds.

  • And their first report on the discovery,

  • they said, and I quote, "The sensitivity of C2N14 is beyond our capabilities of measurement...

  • ...even the smallest possible loadings in shock & friction-tests led to explosive decomposition."

  • To give you a list of how touchy this stuff is,

  • here's a list of things that make Azidoazide explode:

  • moving it, touching it,

  • dispersing it in solution, leaving it undisturbed on a glass plate,

  • exposing it to bright light, exposing it to x-rays,

  • putting it in a spectrometer, turning on the spectrometer,

  • and my favourite: ABSOLUTELY NOTHING!!!

  • They had it in a shock-proof explosive case, in a dark climate controlled room...

  • and it blew up!

  • I think somebody said something mean about it somewhere, and it was like:

  • (Censored Bleep)

  • The lead scientists on the team that synthesized it called it: "A very exciting discovery."

  • If I worked with Azidoazide Azide, waking up every morning,

  • and seeing that I still had all my fingers would be a very exciting discovery.

  • Next up, let's talk about Dimethylcadmium

  • This is an organometallic compound,

  • which means it it has a molecule in which carbon has bonded with a metal

  • In this case, that metal is Cadmium,

  • a pretty nasty customer all on its own

  • So far we've talked about chemicals that explode

  • or cover everything in unquenchable fire

  • And don't get me wrong; Dimethylcadmium, it does that too

  • But that is not what makes it so dangerous

  • It is, in all likelihood, gram-for-gram the most toxic chemical in the world

  • It has both acute and chronic effects

  • Which means it will kill you now AND later

  • It was first prepared by a pioneer of metal organic chemistry

  • A fellow named Erich Krause who was from, yes, Germany

  • It was 1917

  • To give you a sense of how Krause rolled

  • he died in his lab at the age of 37 after accidentally inhaling a bunch of chlorine

  • but before that happened he managed to report his discovery of Dimethylcadmium

  • When you breathe it in it is absorbed instantly into your bloodstream,

  • where it basically serves as a kind of chemical chauffeur for toxic compounds of cadmium

  • to travel all around your body

  • Because it's so effective at exploiting your bloodstream it quickly effects your most blood-infused organs

  • Like lungs and your kidneys and liver, creating compounds that rip electrons off the atoms of your cells

  • But if you manage to survive your first few hours after Dimethylcadmium exposure,

  • don't get your hopes up. It's also extremely carcinogenic,

  • So it will take you down with cancer just to spite you

  • This stuff is so potent that, as an airborne vapor

  • just a few millionths of a gram per cubic meter of air meets the legal safety limits

  • But if you spill it, how are you going to clean it up?

  • Water?

  • Well, when it reacts with water it produces both lots of heat and lots of hydrogen gas

  • Which is flammable so, yeah, it explodes in water

  • Maybe you could sweep it up?

  • Eeuhh friction makes it ignite

  • Might wanna just try waiting for it to decompose?

  • Well, it will do that

  • It'll form a crust of dimethyl cadmium peroxide, which is a friction-sensitive explosive

  • So you're just one shoe-scuff away from "KABLAMMO"

  • And on top of it all

  • the chemical has an odor that has been described as foul, unpleasant, metallic, and disagreeable

  • But that's nothing compared to our next chemical:

  • Thioacetone

  • It won't explode, or start fires, or even give you cancer

  • Compared to other chemicals on the list it's like a cute little fluffy bunny

  • If that cute little fluffy bunny had the MOST UNGODLY STINK YOU CAN IMAGINE

  • That's right, Thioacetone takes the prize for The World's Smelliest Chemical

  • It's a thiol, an organic compound in which a carbon atom is bonded to a sulfur-hydrogen pair

  • They're all gross

  • A skunk's spray uses two different thiols to eye-watering effect

  • Most sulfur-containing compounds are released by rotting meat

  • which is a reason why we would want to be very good at being able to detect them

  • and also not think that it smells...Good

  • But when it comes to bad smells

  • Thioacetone takes the stinky, seriously unappetizing cake

  • You can smell one drop of this substance, almost instantly, from half a kilometer away

  • In the 1960s a vial of the stuff fell off a shelf in a research lab

  • People were chucking their cookies in buildings 200 meters away

  • But the greatest example of thioacetone's silent-but-deadly strength comes from the German city of Freiburg

  • where in 1889 chemists at a soap factory were, reportedly, working on a larger molecule

  • known as tri-thioacetone, which is used as a flavoring and a fragrance

  • But, when they broke it apart into thioacetone workers started falling ill

  • Spontaneous outbreaks of vomiting were reported in the surrounding neighborhoods

  • It led to the evacuation of the whole city

  • There might be a lot to learn about thioacetone and thiols in general

  • but, understandably, scientists are not really rushing to look into it

  • And finally, there's the strongest corrosive agent in the world

  • The most dangerous acid ever devised by humanity

  • Fluoroantimonic acid

  • Because what list of dangerous chemicals would be complete

  • without a super acid

  • What makes an acid an acid is its ability to donate a proton to another molecule nearby it

  • And a proton is just a hydrogen atom that's lost its electron

  • This process is called Protonation

  • And an acid's strength is determined by how willing it is to give up that proton

  • A weak acid, acetic acid for example

  • Which is just the undiluted form of vinegar

  • will drag its feet about protonating other molecules

  • Most of it will just sit there doing nothing

  • But a strong acid like sulfuric acid'll punch that proton in the air like a beach volleyball at spring break

  • And remember from Substance N how crazy fluorine is

  • Well, fluoroantimonic acid is ten quadrillion times stronger than sulfuric acid

  • This molecule is begging for an excuse to fly apart

  • Once it's lost its hydrogen atoms

  • the remaining atoms of fluorine and another element, antimony

  • tear through everything else around them, ripping electrons off nearby molecules

  • and leaving just organic goo in their wake

  • Especially exciting is that fluorine really likes to bond with calcium

  • So once the acid tears through the fatty organic tissues of your skin and muscles

  • the fluorine will burn through your bones

  • The only way to store fluoroantimonic acid is in Teflon containers

  • Teflon, by the way, is held together by carbon-fluorine bonds

  • which are the single strongest bond in organic chemistry

  • We don't actually know a lot about this acid because it's so hard to do experiments with it

  • You can't put it in a syringe or on a slide

  • It eats through glass like it's cotton candy

  • You can't put it under a fume hood - it'll eat the fume hood

  • All you can really do is, just like, look at it

  • Ideally from...

  • ...very far away

  • Thank you for watching this particularly dangerous SciShow infusion

  • Thank you especially to our Subbable subscribers who help us make this show for them

  • And for everyone else, to find our how you can support us you can go to subbable.com

  • And if you want to keep getting smarter with us?

  • Just go to youtube.com/scishow and subscribe

Germany, 1939

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世界で最も危険な化学物質の5つ (5 of the World's Most Dangerous Chemicals)

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    黎芷伶 に公開 2021 年 01 月 14 日
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