Chemistry: Formula of Fugu

The poisonous puffer fish, which inflates itself into a small balloon when caught, lives in most of the world's oceans. But only in Japan, where it is called fugu, has it become a national tradition. There, though its poison kills 200 victims per year, its flesh sends gourmets into philosophical ecstasies. They get a particular kick from knowing they are playing a kind of gustatory Russian roulette.

The fugu has drawn additional attention by its long-defiant challenge to the chemists' skill. Its poison, tetrodotoxin, has proved almost impossible to isolate or identify....

Want the full story?

Subscribe Now


Get TIME the way you want it

  • One Week Digital Pass — $4.99
  • Monthly Pay-As-You-Go DIGITAL ACCESS$2.99
  • One Year ALL ACCESSJust $30!   Best Deal!
    Print Magazine + Digital Edition + Subscriber-only Content on

Learn more about the benefits of being a TIME subscriber

If you are already a subscriber sign up — registration is free!