The New York Times has a new report on the aerosol distribution of toilet flushing:
Scientists have found that in addition to clearing out whatever business you’ve left behind, flushing a toilet can generate a cloud of aerosol droplets that rises nearly three feet. Those droplets may linger in the air long enough to be inhaled by a shared toilet’s next user, or land on surfaces in the bathroom.
This toilet plume isn’t just gross. In simulations, it can carry infectious coronavirus particles that are already present in the surrounding air or recently shed in a person’s stool. The research, published Tuesday in the journal Physics of Fluids, adds to growing evidence that the coronavirus can be passed not only through respiratory droplets, but through virus-laden feces, too.
This is just the latest example of ways that the coronavirus has illuminated just how overwhelming the spread of germs in everyday life can be. I think it's safe to say that most people who were overly concerned about handwashing and air-bound droplets of fecal bacteria were typically written off as "germaphobic." And while we knew, scientifically, that credit card machines and concerts and stability bars on trains were all probably gross, they never seemed to be that big of a problem … until this pandemic started, making us all so hyper-aware of transmission.
It's very possible that all of these things will continue to be safe-ish, as long as you practice the very basic due diligence around your own personal sanitation — but the fact that we just don't know, and are suddenly so attuned to our knowledge gaps, is truly astounding. Read the rest
We've been cleaning out and sorting through some stuff we had in storage, which I re-discovered this generous gift that someone (my mother-in-law?) bought me at some point in time. My sister picked it up, asking why I had a poop-shaped cookie cutter in the pile with my Star Wars cookie cutters. Normally, this would be a valid question to ask — it is certainly reasonable to think that I would own both poop and Star Wars cookie cutters. But then I had to remind her that, no, that was in fact, a Jawa, a member of the Tatooinian trader race that's also kind of uncomfortably anti-Semitic once you start to think about it.
Now, I'm not sure why this particular cookie cutter set came with a Jawa. An Ewok would have probably made more sense (while still remaining slightly poop-like). I can't find this particularly set available anywhere else on the Internet; William-Sonoma sells an 8-pack of Star Wars cookie cutters with the exact same Chewbacca, R2-D2, and C-3pO molds — but alas, no Poop Jawa. Walmart sells a lone Poop Jawa cookie cutter for a whopping $18. I'm assuming that someone at Williams-Sonoma decided to discontinue the Poop Jawa — not because it looks like a poop, but because, who the hell wants a Jawa cookie cutter anyway?
There is one link on Amazon for a Star Wars Press-and-Stamp Cookie Cutters, Set of 4 Droids and Aliens: R2-D2, C-3PO, Jawa and Chewbacca. Unfortunately, it has no pictures, and it's not available anyway. Read the rest
A 15th-century cesspit found under Somerset House in London has been lovingly recreated as a 3D model that you can explore in your web browser. [via Londonist]
Archaeologists from MOLA also uncovered a number of interesting objects from the pit:
"These include a rare 14th century ‘Penn’ floor tile – a decorating material of choice for palaces and monastic sites – pottery drinking vessels and tableware dating from the 14th and 15th centuries, as well as a range of metalwork artefacts including a finger ring, iron spur, belt buckle, bone-handled fork and pendant."
Cess not included. But there's lots of other historical architectural delights on Sketchfab. Read the rest
A new study shares that dogs like to poop along magnetic north. Having frequently watched my dog scramble around looking for the perfect place to take a dump, I now understand.
Poop on, little Pretzel.
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The study suggests that dogs are sensitive to small variations in Earth’s magnetic field. After examining 70 dogs — made up of 37 breeds — over two years, 1,893 defecations and 5,582 urinations, researchers found that under “calm magnetic field conditions,” dogs preferred to “excrete with the body being aligned along the north-south axis,” avoiding east-west altogether. Dogs were observed in a free-roaming environment, meaning they were not leashed and not influenced by walls or roads that would influence linear movement.
In an extremely weird National Park Service notice, tourists are advised that these poop-y looking brown balls of mystery crap that have been observed rolling over trails in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park are indeed critter poop, and nothing is wrong. Read the rest
Fecal transplants are the hottest thing in emergent medicine, restoring balance to guts nuked by antibiotics and resistant infections, but there are risks. DIY is not the way to go...
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Two patients contracted severe infections, and one of them died, from fecal transplants that contained drug-resistant bacteria, the Food and Drug Administration reported on Thursday. As a result, the agency is halting a number of clinical trials until the researchers conducting them can demonstrate that they have procedures in place to screen donated stool for dangerous organisms, said Dr. Peter Marks, director of the agency’s Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research. In an interview, he did not specify how many trials would be suspended, but said it was “not just a few.”
Currently undergoing clinical trials, the Vibrant capsule is a tiny vibrator inside a capsule that you swallow to relieve constipation. Don't worry though because according to the web site, "the capsule is controlled by an algorithm." Whew. From Vibrant Ltd:
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Constipation relief is achieved by the capsule’s vibrations on the large intestinal wall, consequently inducing natural peristaltic activity, generating additional spontaneous bowel movements.
The capsule is activated by a base unit that transfers the data to the capsule.
The capsule operates inside the large intestine and is washed out of the body with the bowel movement. It meets the highest safety standards, using biocompatible materials.
Holy crap! There's a toilet plunger that looks like a poop emoji on a stick.
This smiling anthropomorphic plunger is the work of Squatty Potty, the folks who really know how to market toilet stools.
Need it? (Don't kid yourself, you do.) It's available for ~$15.
Previously: Poop-themed toys rule New York Toy Fair
Thanks, Howie! Read the rest
Steve Tamblyn of Adelaide, Australia was frustrated at his neighbors that didn't pick up after their dogs. So he set up a security cam, captured an image of a dog and its lazy walker, printed out the evidence, and posted it by the poop. So far, the funny but passive aggressive technique hasn't actually led to the individual cleaning up the mess but he's hoping it will deter others from shirking their responsibility. (ABC)
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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
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.
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"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
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
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
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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2018 seems no easier for United Airlines.
Via the WaPo:
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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.”