Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Nuclear “Eye” Reveals that Napoleon was Not Poisoned

11.02.2008
Arsenic poisoning did not kill Napoleon in Saint Helena, as affirmed by a new meticulous examination performed at the laboratories of the Italian National Institute of Nuclear Physics (INFN) in Milano-Bicocca and Pavia, together with the University of Milano-Bicocca and the University of Pavia.

The physicists performing the study used a small nuclear reactor used exclusively for research purposes at the University of Pavia, applying techniques that were created for the project known as “Cuore” (“Heart”), which is being developed at the INFN’s national laboratories in Gran Sasso.

The research, the results of which will be published in the journal “Il Nuovo Saggiatore”, was performed on hair samples that had been taken during different periods of Napoleon Bonaparte’s life, from when he was a boy in Corsica, during his exile on the Island of Elba, on the day of his death (May 5, 1821) on the Island of Saint Helena, and on the day after his death. Samples taken from the King of Rome (Napoleon’s son) in the years 1812, 1816, 1821, and 1826, and samples from the Empress Josephine, collected upon her death in 1814, were also analysed. The hair samples were provided by the Glauco-Lombardi Museum in Parma (Italy), the Malmaison Museum in Paris, and the Napoleonic Museum in Rome. In addition to these “historical” hair samples, 10 hairs from living persons were examined for comparison purposes.

The hairs were placed in capsules and inserted in the core of the nuclear reactor in Pavia. The technique used is known as “neutron activation”, which has two enormous advantages: it does not destroy the sample and it provides extremely precise results even on samples with an extremely small mass, such as human hair samples. Using this technique, the researchers have established that all of the hair samples contained traces of arsenic. The researchers chose to test for arsenic in particular because for a number of years various historians, scientists, and writers have hypothesized that Napoleon was poisoned by guards during his imprisonment in Saint Helena following the Battle of Waterloo.

The examination produced some surprising results. First of all, the level of arsenic in all of the hair samples from 200 years ago is 100 times greater than the average level detected in samples from persons living today. In fact, the Emperor’s hair had an average arsenic level of around ten parts per one million whereas the arsenic level in the hair samples from currently living persons was around one tenth of a part per one million. In other words, at the beginning of the 19th people evidently ingested arsenic that was present in the environment in quantities that are currently considered as dangerous.

The other surprise regards the finding that there were no significant differences in arsenic levels between when Napoleon was a boy and during his final days in Saint Helena. According to the researchers, and in particular the toxicologists who participated in the study, it is evident that this was not a case of poisoning but instead the result of the constant absorption of arsenic.

Eleonora Cossi | alfa
Further information:
http://www.infn.it

More articles from Physics and Astronomy:

nachricht Further Improvement of Qubit Lifetime for Quantum Computers
09.12.2016 | Forschungszentrum Jülich

nachricht Electron highway inside crystal
09.12.2016 | Julius-Maximilians-Universität Würzburg

All articles from Physics and Astronomy >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Electron highway inside crystal

Physicists of the University of Würzburg have made an astonishing discovery in a specific type of topological insulators. The effect is due to the structure of the materials used. The researchers have now published their work in the journal Science.

Topological insulators are currently the hot topic in physics according to the newspaper Neue Zürcher Zeitung. Only a few weeks ago, their importance was...

Im Focus: Significantly more productivity in USP lasers

In recent years, lasers with ultrashort pulses (USP) down to the femtosecond range have become established on an industrial scale. They could advance some applications with the much-lauded “cold ablation” – if that meant they would then achieve more throughput. A new generation of process engineering that will address this issue in particular will be discussed at the “4th UKP Workshop – Ultrafast Laser Technology” in April 2017.

Even back in the 1990s, scientists were comparing materials processing with nanosecond, picosecond and femtosesecond pulses. The result was surprising:...

Im Focus: Shape matters when light meets atom

Mapping the interaction of a single atom with a single photon may inform design of quantum devices

Have you ever wondered how you see the world? Vision is about photons of light, which are packets of energy, interacting with the atoms or molecules in what...

Im Focus: Novel silicon etching technique crafts 3-D gradient refractive index micro-optics

A multi-institutional research collaboration has created a novel approach for fabricating three-dimensional micro-optics through the shape-defined formation of porous silicon (PSi), with broad impacts in integrated optoelectronics, imaging, and photovoltaics.

Working with colleagues at Stanford and The Dow Chemical Company, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign fabricated 3-D birefringent...

Im Focus: Quantum Particles Form Droplets

In experiments with magnetic atoms conducted at extremely low temperatures, scientists have demonstrated a unique phase of matter: The atoms form a new type of quantum liquid or quantum droplet state. These so called quantum droplets may preserve their form in absence of external confinement because of quantum effects. The joint team of experimental physicists from Innsbruck and theoretical physicists from Hannover report on their findings in the journal Physical Review X.

“Our Quantum droplets are in the gas phase but they still drop like a rock,” explains experimental physicist Francesca Ferlaino when talking about the...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

ICTM Conference 2017: Production technology for turbomachine manufacturing of the future

16.11.2016 | Event News

Innovation Day Laser Technology – Laser Additive Manufacturing

01.11.2016 | Event News

#IC2S2: When Social Science meets Computer Science - GESIS will host the IC2S2 conference 2017

14.10.2016 | Event News

 
Latest News

Researchers identify potentially druggable mutant p53 proteins that promote cancer growth

09.12.2016 | Life Sciences

Scientists produce a new roadmap for guiding development & conservation in the Amazon

09.12.2016 | Ecology, The Environment and Conservation

Satellites, airport visibility readings shed light on troops' exposure to air pollution

09.12.2016 | Health and Medicine

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>