All aboard the Alabama shit train!

Fact: The only thing that smells worse than your poop is tons of other people's poop. If you don't believe me, take a road trip to the town of Parrish, Alabama. They'll back me up on this one: According to the Associated Press, the citizens of Parrish were forced to endure the stench pouring off a train full of  sewer sludge from New York and New Jersey for close to two months.

It's not unusual for trains full of human waste to pass through the town of 982 people: there's a landfill complex that treats and disposes of the excrement another 20 miles further down the track. Having the train stop in town to share its intoxicating perfume for two months? That's both unreasonable and unusual. It seems that another county in Alabama blocked the train's passage, making it impossible for it to reach its final destination. So, there it sat in Parrish: like a man in the bathroom after a large, questionable meal, full of poop, making everything terrible for everyone. NPR states that the train was stopped near a local park. The odor coming off of it was so bad that little league games had to be cancelled.

After two months of having to put up with the stench ruining the lives of everyone in the town, in mid-April, the Mayor of Parrish was finally able to tell her constituents that it was finally moving on. The town's administration will be looking into passing a series of by-laws to keep similar incidents from happening again. Read the rest

10 million pounds of human feces from New York/New Jersey are rotting in railcars stuck in a small Alabama town

Two months ago, dozens of train cars filled with ten million pounds of human shit from waste disposal plants in New York and New Jersey came to rest outside the town of Parrish, Alabama, population 982. Read the rest

Dung beetles save us from drowning in poop

"A pile of elephant dung can attract 4,000 beetles in 15 minutes." It's a fact that you never knew you'd want to know, but trust me, you totally do. This short video on how dung beetles save us from drowning in an ocean of animal shit is fascinating, short and fun. Read the rest

Jailed gentleman holds in possible evidence-bearing poop for 40 days

A suspected drug dealer may or may not have swallowed his wares when arrested, but he's quite determined not to incriminate himself. He vowed "he would die rather than poop." Read the rest

New Orleans pulls 46 tons of Mardi Gras beads from storm drains

In temperate and tropical locales, storm drains are a vital bit of urban infrastructure. As a channel for rain water to drain from city streets, they play an important role in keeping the places most of us live habitable and our roads passable during wet weather. When storm drains get clogged with debris, the water they're meant to carry can't flow and things go sideways, fast. As such, most cities throw a lot of money at cleaning them – and the catch basins that feed into them – out, several times per year.

New Orleans? They've got storm drains. Given the city's history of catastrophic flooding, to say that keeping their waste water flowing would be an understatement. It's a tough job, made more difficult by the annual influx of drunken, horny tourists.

On January 28th, the Times-Picayune reported that in addition to the mud, leaves and garbage that New Orleans public works employees have to suck out of storm drains this year, they discovered something else: 46 tons of Marti Gras beads. For the sober uninitiated, the tradition of passing out strands and necklaces of Mardi Gras beads to boozy revelers started back in the 1800s when people parading as part of the annual celebration handed out the inexpensive mementos to onlookers. As anyone who's been to the five-day festival recently will tell you, just as many strands of the beads wind up on the ground as they do around necks. While the city spends hundreds of thousands of dollars to clean up after the days-long party, the beads still end up getting into places that you don't want them to – kind of like macro-sized glitter. Read the rest

Future astronaut food could taste like shit

Scientists have been working on a way to turn poop into an edible which, even if it winds up tasting like French fries, will never let you entirely forget about the fact that you're eating poop.

According to Penn State News, researchers at the university's College of Earth and Mineral Sciences have been puttering about their lab, looking for a way to turn human waste into a viable food source for astronauts on deep space missions.

As most people don't want to play with their own brand, the researchers turned to an artificial human waste analog, commonly used for testing purposes in waste treatment plants. The waste was placed inside of a closed cylinder and treated with microbes. These microbes broke down their faux-feces through a process called anaerobic digestion. This breakdown of the waste results in a discharge of methane, which can be used to produce a microbe called Methylococcus capsulatus. Methylococcus capsulatus is currently used in animal feed, and since humans are animals, BOOM: astronaut food. By growing the microbes at a temperature that kills harmful bacteria, the research team was able to produce a bio mass consisting of 61% protein and 7% animal fats.

According to Penn State professor of Geosciences, Christopher House, the resulting foodstuff would have the consistency of Vegemite or Marmite.

With this being the case, there could be a large contingent of future astronauts that would prefer to eat their own crap, instead.

Photo via Flikr, courtesy of Dave Young

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Fecal rampage grounds international United flight

2018 seems no easier for United Airlines.

Via the WaPo:

United Airlines passengers found themselves in a fetid situation when their Chicago-to-Hong Kong flight made an unscheduled landing in Alaska after a man had smeared feces all over some of the plane’s bathrooms, airport officials said.

United Flight 895 was diverted to Anchorage on Thursday night, according to CBS affiliate KTVA, and police officials at Ted Stevens International Airport said the landing was due to a “passenger smearing feces everywhere.”

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A walking volcanic poop-bot

Omorobo's Dorodorobos are robots that "sprinkle mud from their heads, face them all around, and dirty them." (via JWZ) Read the rest

Poop doping could be the latest performance enhancement craze

Evidently you can be full of the wrong shit. A cyclist, by testing her friends fecal output, determined she needed better critters up in herself to improve her pedal pushing. So she did.

The madwoman behind “poop doping” is Lauren Petersen, a postdoctoral microbiologist at the Jackson Laboratory for Genomic Medicine. Petersen has been racing bikes all her life, but as she told The Scientist earlier this month, she’s struggled with chronic Lyme disease since her teen years. She finally rid herself of the disease in 2013, but the intense course of antibiotics she took had ravaged her system and left her with chronic fatigue and stomach problems.

Eventually, she learned that her microbiome (the colony of microbes in her body) was dangerously unbalanced and was not functioning as it should. She was not breaking down any food, and she learned that she was not eligible for a potentially beneficial fecal transplant. So she simply did one herself. As she said, it was a fairly dangerous DIY procedure and it wasn’t fun, but it worked better than she thought it could:

In February 2014, with the support of her family, she recruited a donor and did it herself. “I just did it at home. It’s not fun, but it’s pretty basic. It costs like six bucks to do.” (The $6 being for the drugstore enema kit.)

The do-it-yourself solution worked. “Within two months I was a new person,” Petersen says. “I had no more fatigue. I could ride my bike hard three days in a row, no problem.” She started racing four months after her fecal transplant, and was winning races at the pro level soon after that.

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Meet Unko Sensei, the poop teacher making kanji fun for Japanese kids

Unko Sensei (literally Poop Teacher), is a charming mustachioed turd helping Japanese grade-schoolers learn over 1000 kanji characters required by the end of 6th grade. Read the rest

Cityscapes created inside toilet paper rolls

Paris-based artist Anastassia Elias created these papercraft cityscapes inside toilet paper cores. It was part of November's World Toilet Day, and it was commissioned to bring awareness to the sad state of toilet affairs in many large cities. Read the rest

NASA's Space Poop Challenge

NASA issued a public $30,000 bounty "for fecal, urine, and menstrual management systems to be used in the crew’s launch and entry suits over a continuous duration of up to 144 hours." From the competition brief:

Current space suits are worn for launch and entry activities and in-space activities to protect the crew from any unforeseen circumstances that the space environment can cause. A crew member could find themselves in this suit for up to 10 hours at a time nominally for launch or landing, or up to 6 days if something catastrophic happens while in space.

The old standby solution consisted of diapers, in case astronauts needed to relieve themselves. However, the diaper is only a very temporary solution, and doesn’t provide a healthy/protective option longer than one day.

What's needed is a system inside a space suit that collects human waste for up to 144 hours and routes it away from the body, without the use of hands. The system has to operate in the conditions of space - where solids, fluids, and gases float around in microgravity (what most of us think of as "zero gravity") and don't necessarily mix or act the way they would on earth. This system will help keep astronauts alive and healthy over 6 days, or 144 hrs.

Space Poop Challenge (HeroX) Read the rest

The messy fight to stop California's pool diarrhea signs

California pools must post a dizzying array of warnings, the best of which is "Persons having currently active diarrhea or who have had active diarrhea within the previous 14 days shall not be allowed to enter the pool water." Turns out there was a messy fight behind the now-ubiquitous nanny-state signage. Read the rest

Poop emoji cookie cutter

Francesca4me has created arguably the best Poop Emoji Cookie Cutters on the market, and they come in four different sizes. They include depressions for the eyes and mouth that can be filled with white icing, and the thin lines they cut halfway into the cookie give them the most accurate-looking result. Read the rest

Dumptrump: your poop emoji/Trump mashup

Available as tees and diecut stickers at Bumperactive. Read the rest

Select your shape! Stool Analyzer has thoughts on your poop

The Stool Analyzer is the perfect website to squeeze into over breakfast: tell it everything about your turds and it will give you health tips that are at least as accurate as a carnival fortune-telling machine.

"An ideal stool looks like a torpedo - it should be large, soft, fluffy and easy to pass"

Dr. Foxx-Orenstein, president of the American College of Gastroenterology

My stool is reportedly "superior."

The shape and consistency of your stool indicate an almost "perfect stool". Your ideal feces should be uniform in consistency and colour with no cracks on its surface. To produce your "perfect stool" you need to tune your diet just a little with some extra fiber or with a couple more glasses of water. You're almost there!

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Fecal transplants work in puppies too

Fecal transplants cured 93% of diarrhea cases in a pioneering study, reports Ars Technica's Beth Mole.

By digging into the data on fecal transplants—which are highly effective at treating dogged gut infections, such as Clostridium difficile, in humans—Conrad realized that treatment didn’t have to be that rough. Such transplants generally work by using poop, laden with a helpful community of microbes, to restore disorderly microbial communities in the gut and elbow out harmful germs.

In Conrad’s procedure, veterinarians simply take stool from healthy dogs, screen it, liquefy it, and then inject it into a sick dog’s intestines with a feeding tube inserted in their rear. The screening process Conrad uses is simple, mostly culturing some of the microbes in lab to check for certain types of bacteria.

Within 12 to 24 hours, the puppies’ symptoms start clearing up, Conrad said. He’s now using the method to treat adults and pregnant dogs

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