From cocaine to codeine, David Nicholson unveils the mysteries of pharmacology

Waiter! My flies are on fire! The Alchemist

French chef Jean-Louis Gallard created a FF200 'Menu Viagra' at his restaurant on the shores of Lake Geneva. After being acquitted on charges of importing and using a banned drug, he said: "The whole thing has been a waste of time. This is a drug to make love with, not war." Read full article...

Don't wear underpants, The Alchemist

A Japanese researcher was awarded the Chemistry IgNobel prize for devising a spray which wives can use on their husbands' underpants to see if they have been unfaithful. "Don't wear underpants" suggested one academic observer. Read full article...

Pills in Brazil, The Alchemist

A curious scandal in unfolding in Brazil. Pills for contraceptive use have been found to contain nothing but flour. This is clearly going to be little defence against the mighty Brazilian sperm, although the number of conceptions occurring during the football World Cup is liable to be lower than normal in any case. Read full article...

Beware of crispy bra syndrome, The Alchemist

Dolls made of cellulose acetate in the 1940s have begun to weep acetic acid, or vinegar, since the acetate has broken off from the cellulose and reacted with moisture in the air. Barbie dolls, if they do break down, shed tears of hydrochloric acid. A bra from the 1960s kept at the National Museum of Scotland has become decidedly crispy. Read full article...