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History Of Chemistry Essay

1199 words - 5 pages

There has been war since man has been on Earth. Over time, war tactics, weapon, armor, and even the soldier has changed. The main weapon that has changed the battlefield has been the use of chemicals to stun, immobilize, or cause death. Chemical warfare isn’t a new form of fighting; it has been around since 400 B.C., but even a powerful and versatile weapon has its disadvantages. Nature always finds a way to fight in a battle too. The threat of a chemical attack haunts every country today. The extreme tension in the Middle East leaves the United States crippled because of their supply of chemical weapons and nervous about what the future will hold. The advancements in chemistry has altered the war front since its introduction during ancient history until present conflicts, and it will continue to evolve become more of a threat in the future.
Chemistry has been used in war since ancient history. At this time, life and war were very simple. The battlefield looked different, had different rules, different weapons, and different armor. In the time of the Greek Spartans, the greatest warriors of the ancient world, they discovered that mixing copper and tin while melted created a compound metal that was very hard and easy to produce. This new metal was Bronze (Grossman). Fighting was usually fought with swords, bow and arrows, and any other weapon that would cause serious damage. After the discovery of Bronze, the Spartans found a way to burn Sulfur fumes to invoke eye irritation, vomiting, and a feeling of deliria (Grossman). Chemical warfare evolved even more after the birth of Jesus Christ. In 256 A.D., the Sasanian Persian Empire used toxic smoke against the Romans (Lussier). There were even more crude ways of spreading death; 1346 the Tatars catapulted plague-infected corpses into Italian trade settlements in Crimea. This is described has the first crude biochemical grenade. Even with these war tactics, the use of chemicals in battle didn’t become an extreme issue until 1914. In World War I the Germans introduce Mustard and chlorine gas; both of which are highly toxic if exposed for long periods of time (Grossman). Since these gases are heavier than natural air, they stay close to the ground. This was effective because the main battle strategy was trench warfare. The Mustard gas would be dropped from bombs, and the yellow gas would fall into the trenches; killing or injury anyone who was exposed to it (Russell).
There are advantages and disadvantages to the use of chemical toxins, and nature almost always plays a part in determining the final result of the success or failure of chemical warfare. Nature can be useful and used as a tool, or it can backfire and cause chaos and destruction. In World War I and II, the airborne chemical had to be dropped in the enemy trenches or up wind of the enemy. Since there was no way of controlling the gas as it was falling, it could change direction due to the wind and kill the soldiers who had released the...

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