When we visited Taipei, my wife and I made it our singular goal to eat at Modern Toilet, even though we knew the bathroom-themed restaurant had caught on and was a bit of a tourist trap. That same spirit has been reignited in me, and my next trip to Seoul cannot come soon enough. I will not leave that city until I grab me some fresh, hot Poop Bread.
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The 2007 project to bring emoji to Android -- and thence to the Web -- involved an epic battle over the inclusion of the much-loved "pile of poop" emoji, whose significance to the Japanese market was poorly understood by various reactionary elements at Google.
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If you discover an island covered in guano -- old poop -- an 1856 Federal law that's still on the books obliges the US of A to defend your claim to it.
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A paper in Frontiers in Zoology
claims that dogs can sense the Earth's magnetic field, and preferentially align to it when pooping
. (via Sean Bonner
If paleoeschatologist Karen Chin is right, then the 2.4 liter fossilized fecal mass
she found Saskatchewan could have been the work of a Tyrannosaurus Rex.
Lil sez, "Some doctors decided that it would help kids describe their poop accurately if they turned the verbal Bristol Stool Scale ('type 1 as 'rabbit droppings', type 2 as 'bunch of grapes', type 3 as 'corn on cob', type 4 as 'sausage', type 5 as 'chicken nuggets', type 6 as 'porridge', and type 7 as 'gravy'.') into 3D models, complete with clear resin 'toilet water'and a porcelain toilet to display them. Because how else would the kids differentiate floaters from sinkers?"
Warning, plastic poop below.
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This table is not for pooping. It's for tea. But it is made of poop — specifically fossilized hunks of fish poop, encased in a crunchy shell of clay and rock. The fossilized poops — called coprolites, which is basically just fancy Latin for "fossilized poop" — are the spiny-looking bits in the center of each circular inlay on the table top. (Technically, the name translates as "dung stone".)
The table belonged, appropriately, to the Rev. William Buckland, the man who gave coprolites their fancy name and proved that they were, in fact, fossilized poops.
The table resides at England's Lyme Regis Museum. You can read more about Buckland's work and the details of the craftsmanship and restoration behind the table at their website. Earth Magazine also has a lovely article on coprolites, including important information that will help you distinguish between fossilized poop and stuff that just looks like fossilized poop.
Via The Earth Story. Thanks to my Dad for forwarding this to me!
University of Guelph researcher Emma Allen-Vercoe and her team have devised a method for creating artificial poop for use in fecal transplants, a promising therapy for people whose intestinal flora have been damaged by illness, antibiotics, or other therapies. The recipe involves a combination of indigestible cellulose and a starter culture of fecal bacteria. These are mixed in an airtight chamber and passed through a "robogut" -- a mechanical analog of the human digestive system that produces the finished turd.
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A declassified mission transcript from Apollo 10 (PDF) includes a passage in which the spacemen argue about whose turd is floating weightlessly through the capsule.
(Thanks, Fipi Lele!)
I don't know if I can fully define human nature, but I'm pretty sure it includes a prurient and/or practical interest in how one uses the bathroom under strange circumstances. Thus, the various videos you've seen over the years explaining how astronauts use the toilet on board the Space Shuttle and the International Space Station. Until a recent visit to Seattle's Museum of Flight, however, I'd never seen how cosmonauts do their business — an issue with increasingly broad reach, now that Americans and other international space voyagers are being ferried into the heavens aboard Soyuz.
The Soyuz toilet does not look much like the ones on board the Shuttle or the ISS. Those are recognizably toilets, for one thing. The Soyuz sanitary unit is more akin to peeing into a soda bottle in the back seat of the family station wagon — if that soda bottle were hooked up to a vacuum cleaner.
This video — kindly shared with us by The Museum of Flight — was filmed in 2009 by NASA astronaut Michael Barratt. It features the urination demonstration talents of spaceflight adventurer Charles Simonyi and Russian cosmonaut Gennady Padalka. Please note that this video only demonstrates how the "part Number 1" works — and even that really only seems to apply to gentlemen cosmonauts. As best I can tell, women apparently just pee into something akin to a compact diaper or sanitary pad. (Fun!) As for "part Number 2", here is how it was described in a 2007 NASA publication written by James Lee Broyan, Jr.:
For fecal collection, a porous bag is placed in the receptacle. Once defecation is complete, the bag is removed, placed sequentially in three bags, and then placed in a wet trash compartment. Based on personal conversations with АСУ trainers, urine collection is acceptable but fecal use is avoided if at all possible with the crew using diet restrictions and preventive measures prior to flight.
• Read the 2007 NASA publication comparing different space toilet systems. Apparently, part Number 2 has also been used by female cosmonauts to dispose of menstrual waste.
• Read a description on the RuSpace site, which gives a little more detail on part Number 2.
• Watch the video at YouTube
Thanks to Ted Huetter at The Museum of Flight!
At Scientific American, Beth Mole has a longer story about the FDA's recent decision to exert more control over the use of fecal transplants
— procedures that attempt to cure disorders related to gut bacteria by, essentially, giving you somebody else's gut bacteria. We already talked briefly about this decision, which has some benefits and some detriments
. This new piece gets more in-depth.
This 1919 French laxative ad promises that it will set lose a cadre of tiny sewage workers who will personally scour your colon of impacted poop.
The good news: Fecal transplants work well enough as a treatment for patients with Clostridium difficile
infections that the Food and Drug Administration has decided to take them out of the grey area of legality in which they were previously being performed
. Poop transplants for C. difficile
will be legal, and the doctors doing the transplants will have to be approved by the FDA, to make sure they're getting the donor poop through safe means and not prescribing poop transplants for things that poop transplants don't help. The bad news: The approval process turns out to be ridiculously arcane and time-consuming — featuring a 30-day waiting period and requirements that are apparently secret.
They aren't saying you should
do it. There's really no reason to. (Even fecal transplants are done in a much less disgusting manner.) But if, for whatever reason, you were to ingest your own poop, you probably won't get sick and die from it
. Somebody else's poop, on the other hand, is more risky. So, glad we got that cleared up.
Andy Borowitz tells the harrowing tale of his near-death experience with severe intestinal trouble. A good poop joke should not go unappreciated, and this is a brilliantly told 18-page poop joke. Give it a read on your lunch break
If you think the fiscal cliff is bad, Kodiak, Alaska is dealing with a "fecal cliff"
— a crisis in where to put raw sludge from the local sewage treatment plant. (Via Charles Homans)
Here's an interesting project that combines participatory citizen science with crowdsource funding models.
American Gut is a project to catalog, analyze, and compare microbiomes of a diverse swath of Americans. Microbiomes are the bacteria that live in you (and on you). They're both separate from your body and a part of it. Scientists want to better understand what bacteria live with us, what they do, and how the populations of bacteria change depending on factors like your diet, where you live, and your ethnicity. The project is entirely funded by crowdsourcing, so how you participate is also how you donate. For instance, in exchange for a $99 donation, you'll get a kit that will enable scientists to do DNA extraction and 16sRNA sequencing on the bacteria they find in a sample of your skin, saliva, or poop. After they've studied the sample, the researchers will present you with information about your microbiome and how it compares to those of other participants.
You can sign up to donate/participate anytime between now and January 7. There are also a few opportunities available for people who want to participate, but can't donate any money right now.
Everybody poops, including panda bears. (See about 0:35 in the above video for evidence.) But panda poop could turn out to be quite a bit more important than your average animal excrement. That's because scientists are "mining" it for bacteria that could help make better biofuel.
The key problem with biofuel today is that the stuff that's actually economical to produce — i.e., corn ethanol — isn't really that great for the environment. Corn farming uses a lot of fertilizer, water, and herbicide. Using corn that was previously grown for food to make fuel, instead, can lead to deforestation as people clear land to make up for the lost food farming. Some models of carbon dioxide emissions suggest that, by the time you factor in things like fossil-fuel derived fertilizers and the deforestation, a gallon of corn ethanol might not be any better for climate change than a gallon of gasoline. Not all the models agree on that. But even if corn ethanol produces fewer carbon emissions than gas, you still have to deal with the fact that growing nutrient-hungry corn on the same patch of ground over and over and over is really bad for local soil and water quality.
Cellulosic ethanol could be a much better alternative — particularly cellulosic ethanol made from native, perennial plants that don't require heavy inputs to thrive and actually improve the health of the land they're grown on. The problem: Converting those plants into fuel is, so far, a lot more expensive. Cellulose — the plant fiber that makes up things like stalks of bamboo and tall prairie grasses — is tough stuff and hard to break down.
That's where panda poop comes in. Pandas process tons of cellulose every day, right in their guts. Maybe the bacteria that work for them could work for us, too.
Read more about this research at Chemical and Engineering News
Liz To has designed a coat-hanger-based disassemblable stove for Tibetan nomads who cook indoors. It's a clever way of recycling one of the more pernicious waste products of western society (coat hangers) and relieving one of the worst health problems faced by Tibetan nomads (indoor pollution from dung fires). Apart from the rather unfortunate orthography (it's called "thab." -- all lower case, with a superfluous period), this is just great.
thab. is designed for Tibetan Nomads who live and cook inside tents. For cooking, they usually use the three stone cooking method however that causes health issues. They use yak dung as their cooking fuels.
They often boil water or soup therefore thab. must be strong, durable, efficient, safe and inexpensive.
Tibetan Nomads travel from one place to another every few months therefore thab. is designed to be disassembled so it can be portable.
thab. - designed by liz
I am really not sure what to say in regards to this 2010 ESPN story about the science and psychology of elite athletes shitting themselves all over the place. Two thoughts though:
1. This story is totally fascinating and you will not regret reading it, even through the disgust. It is its own unicorn chaser.
2. I am so, so glad that I do not exercise at a level where my body has to make a choice between keeping my heart, lungs, and muscles working vs. providing all my other internal organs (including colon) with enough blood flow to remain functional.
In the 1997 NBA Finals, a severe stomach flu forced Michael Jordan to play through extreme bouts of vomiting and diarrhea. His 38 points (with multiple grimaces) led the Bulls to a pivotal Game 5 win against Utah. At Wimbledon in 2001, Serena Williams was suffering from a stomach virus and ran off the court during her quarter-final match with Jennifer Capriati in the decisive third set, after pleading with the chair ump for a timeout. "I can't hold this," Serena cried. And this summer, some of the New Orleans Saints began referring to their championship tilt with the Colts as the Super Bowel because of the unpleasant events that transpired before kickoff. "An NFL pregame locker room can be the most god-awful scene you will ever see or smell," says former Saints linebacker Scott Fujita, now with the Browns. "We are moments away from the Super Bowl, the highlight of our athletic lives, and pretty much everyone is in the bathroom just absolutely blowing up the stalls."
Yes, everybody poops. Even your favorite athlete. The difference is, sometimes they do it in front of millions of people. In the doomsday parlance of pants pooping, let's put the Saints at a relatively safe Defcon 5 -- that's military lingo for "normal readiness" -- Williams at Defcon 4 and Jordan at a potentially messy Defcon 3. When you see surfer Kelly Slater suddenly paddle away from a big wave at Banzai, he's likely at emergency level Defcon 2, creating an organic flotilla that surfers call fish food. As Slater puts it, "The secret for going No. 2 in the ocean is being down current from everybody. You don't want to go up current at your friends. That's rude."
Which brings us to the main subject of this story: Defcon 1, or "maximum readiness ...
Read the rest at ESPN.com
Via Christopher Ryan
Image: Poop, a Creative Commons Attribution Share-Alike (2.0) image from spaceamoeba's photostream
In case the Epic Poop post has you reaching for a unicorn chaser, I bring you...unicorn poop. Specifically, DIY unicorn poop from Instructables user kristylynn84. The secret ingredient is love. And poop. And "sugar cookies, rainbow dragees, rainbow star sprinkles, white sparkle gel, and rainbow disco dust."
If you thought your mobile carrier was a pile of shit, it's understandable -- after all, the phones themselves are festering hives of E coli:
Researchers said that 16% of the devices were contaminated with E coli, which can cause food poisoning, most probably because people fail to properly wash their hands after going to the toilet. The study by the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine and Queen Mary, University of London, also found that Britons tend to lie about their personal hygiene.
While 95% of the 390 people surveyed said they washed their hands with soap where possible, 92% of mobile phones and 82% of hands were contaminated with bacteria.
(Image: SHIT (med og uten ®), a Creative Commons Attribution (2.0) image from aslakr's photostream)
Toto, Japan's foremost toilet manufacturer, has made a motorized tricycle that runs on human crap. The saddle is a functional toilet, and if you can muster up enough colonic motility to keep up a steady stream, you could travel the world.
Toto makes some damned fine toilets, incidentally -- we went to rather a lot of trouble to get one of the Toto toilet-seat/bidet devices imported to the UK and converted to local voltage, and never regretted it.
Lisa at TokyoMango explains:
As the person drives, he can poop into the bowl, and that poop will be turned into fuel for the car. It's actually part of a campaign that Toto is running in an effort to reduce its CO2 emissions by 50% in the next 6 years. The motorcycle will be making its way from Kyushu to Tokyo over the next month (departing in six days). Very exciting! I'm not sure who's driving but I'm sure that, in addition to having a drivers license, they had to check his stool to make sure its healthy and fuel-worthy.
(via Tokyo Mango)
PeePoo bags are alternatives to the "flying toilets" (plastic bags filled with human shit and then flung into the public street) used in Nairobi shantytowns. Created by the company PooPeople, they're lined with a thin gauze layer filled with urea powder, which neutralizes the bacteria in human feces. Once filled, the bags turn the poop into fertilizer, then biodegrade.
The Peepoo is in the form of a slim elongated bag measuring 14 x 38 centimeters.
Within the bag there is a thin gauze layer measuring 26 x 24 cm. The Peepoo is filled with urea powder. Without sacrificing ergonomic function, the bag’s design is adapted in every way so that it might be manufactured at as low a price as possible and sold to groups with the weakest purchasing power in the world.
The Peepoo is easy to carry and easy to use. It doesn't need any supporting structure, but, for convenience, a small bucket can help a lot.
In 1901, this Ladies Guide in Health and Disease
ad advised women that they should let an "eminent German physician" cure their constipation by rolling a leather-encased cannonball around on their tummies.
Well then, that's good to know.