Science and war have always developed side by side.
Science and war have always developed side by side. New inventions were often made during war or to further bellicose goals. Scientists were tasked with inventing weapons that could kill the enemy more efficiently or ways to protect their governments’ own forces. Biology is the science of all living organisms. Biological warfare, also known as germ warfare, is the use of viruses, bacteria, or other disease-causing living organisms as biological weapons (bioweapons). Chemistry deals with the structure, composition, and properties of all kinds of matter and the reactions they may cause in interaction. The use of nonliving toxic products as weapons is considered chemical warfare. Both biological and chemical weapons can occur in nature and be employed as weapons, which tended to happen in ancient and medieval times. In modern times, science and technology have been applied to develop such weapons and the means of delivering them.
Both biological and chemical weapons are considered to be
Early recorded uses of bioweapons include the
In medieval times, the poisoning of wells continued. Even though the exact mechanisms of infection remained unknown, it was clear that disease could spread from animals to people or from person to person. Aggressors, when laying siege to a town, would catapult sick or dead animals into the town, hoping that the carcasses would infect the inhabitants. Victims of the
Smallpox caused many casualties during the
Programs to weaponize diseases, including various forms of plague and anthrax, were carried out by other states as well. Such efforts continued after World War II. The
Chemical weapons are most widely associated with World War I.
Israeli students wear gas masks in 2003 during a drill to prepare them for the possibility of a chemical attack.
Lethal in high doses, its smell and color made chlorine a relatively ineffective weapon, as it could easily be spotted.
A leading scientist on the German side was
Pictures of a mangrove forest in Vietnam both before (top, in 1965) and after (in 1970) treatment with the herbicide Agent Orange.
Most states worked on chemical weapons in the interwar period and had huge stockpiles of them ready for use by World War II (1939-1945). These ultimately were not used, as both sides feared the effects of these horrendous weapons. After the war, more powerful toxins were developed, mostly
During the Vietnam War (1961-1975), the United States used various types of chemical agents, such as
On March 20, 1995, the Japanese
Today, both biological and chemical warfare are covered by conventions under the auspices of the United Nations. The 1992
Barenblatt, Daniel A. Plague upon Humanity: The Secret Genocide of Axis Japan’s Germ Warfare Operation. New York: HarperCollins, 2004. Summary of the known facts about Japan’s biological warfare capability, carefully developed with the direct support of the emperor and tested in China. Endicott, Stephen, and Edward Hagerman. The United States and Biological Warfare: Secrets from the Early Cold War and Korea. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1998. The authors present an impressive array of evidence that the military and executive branch lied to Congress and the public about the development of biological weapons and even used them in Korea. Harris, Sheldon H. Factories of Death: Japanese Biological Warfare 1932-45 and the American Cover-Up. New York: Routledge, 1994. Meticulous research on Japan’s secretive experiments on live human beings and U.S. complicity in covering up the truth after World War I. Jones, Simon. World War I Gas Warfare Tactics and Equipment. New York: Osprey, 2007. Explains practical details, such as the means and tactics of delivery, the effects and influence on the battles, and the race to produce better protection for the troops on both sides, of this type of warfare, which became one of the dominant aspects of World War I. Mangold, Tom, and Jeff Goldberg. Plague Wars: A True Story of Biological Warfare. London: Macmillan, 1999. Covers research facilities and scientists in the former Soviet Union, the United States, and other countries. Mayor, Adrienne. Greek Fire, Poison Arrows, and Scorpion Bombs: Biological and Chemical Warfare in the Ancient World. Woodstock, N.Y.: Overlook Duckworth, 2003. Shows that biological and chemical weapons saw action in battles long before the modern era. Robinson, P. J., and M. Leitenberg. The Rise of CB Weapons. Vol. 1 in The Problem of Biological and Chemical Warfare. Stockholm: SIPRI, 1971. Detailed account of research and development in biological and chemical warfare worldwide and the often little-known use of biological and chemical weapons. Williams, Peter, and D. Wallace. Unit 731: Japan’s Secret Biological Warfare in World War II. New York: Free Press, 1989. Explains this infamous unit and its projects in China.
Chemical and Biological Weapons
Medicine on the Battlefield
Psychological Effects of War