10 Scariest Chemical Weapons

Age of the chemical soldier. (Catherine Lane/E+/Getty)

From pre-science alchemists to modern researchers, humans have always sought the chemistry of life. But the same can be said for the chemistry of death.

Four thousand years before mustard gas choked the trenches of World War I, Vedic kingdoms unleashed smoke screens and sleep-inducing toxins on the battlefields of India [source: Coleman]. Throughout antiquity, the Greeks, Romans and Spartans wielded chemical agents that burned the lungs, blinded the eyes, disrupted the bowels and scorched the skin.

Like murderous djinn unleashed from a lamp, these silent and often-invisible killers drifted across the battlefield in a wave of indiscriminate suffering and death.

But it wasn't till the 20th century that chemical warfare reached its full, terrifying potential. Prepare to explore 10 of the scariest chemical weapons ever developed.

Breathe deep.

About the Author: Robert Lamb spent his childhood reading books and staring into the woods — first in Newfoundland, Canada and then in rural Tennessee. There was also a long stretch in which he was terrified of alien abduction. He earned a degree in creative writing. He taught high school and then attended journalism school. He wrote for the smallest of small-town newspapers before finally becoming a full-time science writer and podcaster. He’s currently a senior writer at HowStuffWorks and has co-hosted the science podcast Stuff to Blow Your Mind since its inception in 2010. In his spare time, he enjoys traveling with his wife Bonnie, discussing dinosaurs with his son Bastian and crafting the occasional work of fiction.