A shepherd looks over a valley in Halabja, Iraq that had been the site of a chemical weapons attack in 1988. (Marco Di Lauro/Getty Images).
Sarin was first developed in Nazi Germany and later used by Saddam Hussein’s forces against Iraqi Kurdish civilians. But what does it actually do to those exposed to it? The Atlantic’s James Hamblin takes a look at the compound and its history. He also explains, in medical detail, how it can turn our own nervous system against us:
Sarin is unique in potency but not in mechanism. There are other drugs, pesticides, and plants that work the same way. They are called cholinesterase inhibitors.
For the rest of the story: http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/worldviews/wp/2013/05/06/this-is-how-sarin-kills/