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.

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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?

via American Chemical Society