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Finding the poison: Dr. Marc-Michael Blum explains the analytical chemistry needed to identify nerve agents in patients

26 minutes
Finding the poison: Dr. Marc-Michael Blum explains the analytical chemistry needed to identify nerve agents in patients
00:0026:05

The German media reported on September 9 that Russian opposition figure Alexey Navalny was poisoned with a new type of “Novichok” nerve agent, more dangerous than any variation previously identified. Earlier in the month, Meduza science editor Alexander Ershov interviewed biochemist Marc-Michael Blum to find out more about how analytical chemistry is able to identify these poisons in patients and what the outlook is for Navalny’s recovery. (Read the interview’s transcript here.)

On social media, it’s easy to find skeptics who question the German specialists’ conclusions — particularly because the implications of a nerve-agent attack against an opposition leader on his home soil are severe and strongly suggest the state authorities’ involvement — but such incredulity is hard to maintain in the face of Dr. Blum’s explanations.

“The Naked Pravda” comes out on Fridays (or sometimes Saturdays). Catch every new episode by subscribing at Apple PodcastsSpotifyGoogle Podcasts, or other platforms. If you have a question or comment about the show, please write to Kevin Rothrock at kevin@meduza.io with the subject line: “The Naked Pravda.”

Producer, sound editing, and mixing — Kevin Rothrock

Send any questions or comments to kevin@meduza.io

Executive producer — Alexandr Sadikov

Music — Victor Davydov

Thinking Music by Kevin MacLeod / Link / License