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. — Maggie
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.
Read the rest
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. — Maggie
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. — Maggie
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. — Maggie
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
. — Dean
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) — Maggie
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.