The American Chemical Society announced yesterday that they've added the 50 millionth chemical to their comprehensive guide to publicly-disclosed substances, the Chemical Abstracts Service Registry. The substance is "a novel arylmethylidene heterocycle with analgesic properties." In other words, a painkiller.
Said chemist Hideaki Chihara, "A novel substance is either isolated or synthesized every 2.6 seconds on the average during the past 12 months, day and night, seven days a week in the world, showing an almost unbelievable rate of progress in science."
This annuncement also underscores the rather alarming fact that there are a lot more chemicals than these "publicly disclosed" 50 million out there, but the public will never know about about them because they're classified, or perhaps trade secrets.
Creators of apocalyptic scenarios take note: Obviously the population crash will be brought about by one of these secret substances, not one of the well-catalogued ones. Or will it? Can it be that out of 50 million publicly-disclosed substances available in this catalog, there isn't a single one that can turn me into a giant wasp?