Medical researcher apprehended after wife dies of cyanide poisoning: Weekly Web Review in Toxicology

July 30, 2013, 12:37 am

Neuroscientist will not fight extradition in wife’s death from cyanide: In April, Dr. Autumn Klein, a well-known neurologist at the University of Pittsburgh, died of cyanide poisoning. Last week her husband, medical research Robert Ferrante, was apprehended in West Virginia and says he will not fight extradition to Pennsylvania to face charges in his wife’s murder. ABC News’ coverage of the story on Good Morning America (clip above) lays out the strong circumstantial case against Dr. Ferrante. In a post on Wired.com, Deborah Blum discusses the science of cyanide poisoning and compares the case to others in which medical professionals have been accused of murder by poison.

Lake Nyos

Lake Nyos

Strange deadly natural phenomenon: Slate has a short piece describing one of the strangest natural occurrences of the last century, when an eruption of carbon dioxide from Lake Nyos in Cameroon killed almost two thousand people in an instant . Nyos, a crater lake, sat atop ongoing volcanic activity that produced large amounts of CO2. For various reasons, the gas, rather than being dissipated slowly, became trapped in the lake’s water.

On August 21, 1986, something in the lake went off. It is unknown what the trigger was — it may have been a landslide, small volcanic eruption, or even something as small as cold rain falling on an edge of the lake. Whatever the cause, the result was catastrophic. The lake literally exploded in what’s known as a limnic eruption, sending a fountain of water over 300 feet into the air and creating a small tsunami. Hundreds of thousands of tons of carbon dioxide burst forth at 60 miles an hour, suffocating people up to 15 miles away. Of the 800 residents of nearby Nyos, six survived. In all, 1,746 people died and more than 3,500 livestock perished in a matter of minutes.

A post on Smithsonian.com details efforts to prevent similar events from happening in the future.

Top Ten Science News Sites: RealClearScience just post a list of their top ten sites for news from the world of science. Definitely worth a look. BTW, their #1 site is BBC News. RCS says that “their blockbuster team has extraordinary journalistic instinct and an ability to communicate complex topics to a global audience.”  Strangely, the post doesn’t seem to provide links to the sites mentioned. To go to the Science and Environment section of BBC News, click here.

Lecture of the Week: Anyone wondering why they should spend time on Twitter should listen to Rob Rogers’ inspirational one-minute encomium about Twitter as a faculty development tool.

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