In the Crescian society, on alternate Earth, the nobles have a refined sport of settling disputes with mutual assassination.

The unspoken rules are that they must be carried out directly by the nobles themselves, and should a noble be ‘caught’ in the assassination process, they will be executed.

To avoid being caught in their assassination attempts, the nobles devise all sorts of methods to steathily take out their rivals, the primary means being poison.

In particular, poisons that have certain activation conditions are the most popular.

Is it possible to create a poison that is de-activated by swirling/mixing the contents of the glass, whether it is soup or drink, and how would it work? The opposite (poison triggered by stirring) is also acceptable, although a convincing reason should be given (eg. providing a layered drink that should be ‘mixed’).

Also, how to make it such that not doing this process has as close to possible a 100% chance of successfully dispatching the target, and 100% chance of surviving if the swirling/mixing is done?

Also important is how to configure it to have more minimal side-effects when de-activated.

Another good aspect to have would be slower-acting; if it is too lethal then it would give away the poison instantly, revealing the host to be the assassin and also frightening off the other guests, preventing them from consuming.

Note: We apply Artistic License: Poison, so a top-level overview of the process through which the poison is de-activated works.

  • 2
    $\begingroup$ Take a poison and the antidote. The antidote has a higher specific weight than the poison. Unmixed the victim gets a gulp of poison and little antidote, mixed he gets both in equal measure. I'm not biochemist enough to suggest the two agents, so this is just a comment. $\endgroup$ – o.m. Nov 26 '19 at 18:28
  • $\begingroup$ @o.m. It’s valid enough as an answer, not really looking for the specific chemicals, but a process to carry out this scenario $\endgroup$ – Enthus3d Nov 26 '19 at 18:33
  • $\begingroup$ So instead of a toast being traditional, rapid mixing of drinks becomes the tradition. $\endgroup$ – Trevor Nov 26 '19 at 18:42
  • $\begingroup$ @Trevor It’s possible it’ll become the norm after a few incidents, but I’m sure they’ll switch it so mixing activates it instead. $\endgroup$ – Enthus3d Nov 26 '19 at 19:52
  • $\begingroup$ Send them gifts, we must keep up the spirits of sharing and not taking credit by staying anonymous. $\endgroup$ – user6760 Nov 27 '19 at 1:38

A poison which degenerates on exposure to ultraviolet light, in a liquid with a high UV absorption. If prepared and stored in an opaque container, the poison will remain active. When poured into a glass, the liquid at the edges of the glass will be neutralised but, if left undisturbed, poison may linger in the centre. Swirling the glass will expose all the poison to the light for neutralisation.

  • $\begingroup$ I like it! So swirling it enough renders the poison harmless. $\endgroup$ – Enthus3d Nov 26 '19 at 19:54
  • 4
    $\begingroup$ I think this one works best as “if you drink from the opaque flask, you die. If you drink from a glass, you live.” The host chooses to pour nemself a drink first, then offers the victim the flask. Host demonstrates the drink’s safety by drinking from the glass first. $\endgroup$ – SRM Nov 26 '19 at 22:57
  • $\begingroup$ @SRM-ReinstateMonica this is a good proposition. It would also make it easier to target someone. $\endgroup$ – Enthus3d Nov 27 '19 at 1:10
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Tasting notes: Best drunk in direct sunlight. $\endgroup$ – Joe Bloggs Nov 27 '19 at 11:41
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ I think this is the solution that fits the bill best. A safe way to ensure that the poison is neutralized, as well as making it difficult to see through the trick. $\endgroup$ – Enthus3d Nov 27 '19 at 17:39

A layered drink sounds like it work work the best.

Liquids, from a biological perspective, can be divided into two broad categories - polar/hydrophilic and non-polar/hydrophobic. Polar liquids dissolve well into water and non-polar liquids (oil, for instance) will not react at all, and will in fact form a layer. A salad dressing, like a vinaigrette, is a great example of this - leave it alone and it forms two separate layers.

Now, there's something also important here - density. If you have a powder which is lighter than water, yet polar, it will dissolve into it. On the other hand, if you have it in oil, than it won't mix. Thus you stack the drink like this - water portion with the neutralizer in, non-polar portion, poison. (If necessary, there are heavier-than-water non-polar liquids which are relatively safe to drink.)

Drinking without mixing will have the subject intake the poison directly. Depending on the poison, this may be instantly lethal before the subject can even swallow the antidote, or the poison won't be exposed to enough of the antidote to work. On the other hand, you can simply mix the drinking, explaining that you don't like layered drinks, and easily avoid the grim fate.

  • 1
    $\begingroup$ I like it, although the instant lethality would be detrimental due to instantly exposing the perpetrator. The other detriment is that a slower acting one may jot guarantee the target succumbs to the poison $\endgroup$ – Enthus3d Nov 26 '19 at 19:53

I think you could go the other way with the swirling.

If the poison is a long polar molecule, then when it will align end to end — according to coulombic forces — when it is allowed to be still. When it aligns like this, saliva neutralizes the poison.

The act of swirling causes the poison to break its weak bonds and saliva doesn’t affect the toxicity of the poison.

This makes using the poison a big challenge and only very skilled practitioners would consider using the poison. They have to practice handling poisoned drinks very carefully to get it right.

If you really want it to work the other way, then maybe the antidote is applied to a glass and cures clear. The act of swirling quickly about the glass causes the antidote to dissolve and go back into solution.

  • 1
    $\begingroup$ This is a creative idea too! So the trick is to handle it carefully enough not to agitate the poison, or to swirl it around the glass in a way to activate the antidote? $\endgroup$ – Enthus3d Nov 27 '19 at 1:35

Might be able to make use of the Belousov-Zhabotinsky reaction

Set the reaction up then say to the assembled group look at this! It changes from poison to non-poison over time, who would dare to attempt to drink it at the right moment? Then while they are distracted slip something nasty in their beer…

  • $\begingroup$ So you’re saying to use the swirling as a distraction, rather than rely solely on the chemical reaction? $\endgroup$ – Enthus3d Nov 27 '19 at 1:15

I think you are going great lengths for a simple trick.

Have the pole/spoon that you use to mix to be coated with an antidote for the poison in the drink.

No need for fancy tricks

  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Well, to be fair, it is a matter of life and death to these nobles, getting caught means the end of the line. But indeed, your idea works quite well for soups and certain other drinks. $\endgroup$ – Enthus3d Nov 27 '19 at 12:40

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.