There is no chemical that will turn pool water a different color if you pee in it

We wish it were true but, alas, there is no chemical that turns pool water blue if someone pees in it. At Mel Magazine, Mike Rampton investigates:

“Most pools are 20,000 gallons (91,000 liters) or more, so to make a few ounces of urine show up as a bright color would take some serious chemistry,” says bzsteele, a former pool supplies store employee, who recalls new pool owners asking about the dye. “There are cheap tests that could detect urine, but things like sweat, detergent and lotions would also be likely to spike them, so you’d be thrown off by all kinds of false positives. And once the reaction had happened, I’m not sure how you would undo it and get the pool back to stable.”

There’s also the fact that disinfection byproducts, or DBPs — created when the chlorine in pools reacts with the endless streams of pee released into them — are far more harmful than chlorine or urine would be on their own. Haloacetic acid, trihalomethane and chlorite can all be created by chlorine and organic matter (sweat as well as pee) reacting together, and can lead to respiratory issues, eye complaints, “lifeguard lung” and asthma. Adding more volatile chemicals, then, is unlikely to improve matters. And although pool disinfection techniques that require less chlorine (such as UV light, saltwater and hydroxyl-based systems) are increasingly being taken up by pool owners concerned about DBPs, a color-changing substance to stop people peeing in the pool is still nowhere in sight.

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Walt Disney's Frozen Head: a science fiction movie secretly shot at Walt Disney World

Filmmaker Benjamin Lancaster spent four years secretly shooting a science fiction movie called "The Further Adventures of Walt's Frozen Head," working with actors Daniel Cooksley and Ron Schneider to make a movie about a WDW cast-member who discovers the (urban)-legendary frozen head of Walt Disney, kicking off a series of adventures around the park. The movie premieres online later today. This is (at least) the second time someone has secretly shot a movie at Walt Disney World. (Thanks, Hugh!) Read the rest

"Write the best possible final exam question for this course, then answer it."

From Too Good to Be True: The Colossal Book of Urban Legends, by Jan Harold Brunvand

A final exam had just one question: "Write the best possible final exam question for this course, then answer it."

One student immediately wrote, "The best possible final exam question for this course is 'Write the best possible final exam question for this course, then answer it.'"

The student also could have simply written "the best possible final exam question for this course, then answer it."

[via Futility Closet]

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Is the Five Second Rule real?

Paul Dawson, a professor of Food Science at Clemson University, investigated the history of the "Five Second Rule" and ran experiments to see how much bacteria actually transfers from the floor onto dropped food. Read the rest

Art exhibition about urban legends

"Hearsay: Artists Reveal Urban Legends" is a new group exhibition at California State University, Fullerton's Begovich Gallery where artists were asked to create pieces about modern day myths that resonate with them in some personal way. More than three dozen artists participated including Boing Boing favorites like Ransom & Mitchell, Jeffrey Vallance, Robert Williams, and Victoria Reynolds. Above, Chris Farling's "Sewer Gator." Below, Lew Delport's "The Goatman" and Ransom & Mitchell's "Teke Teke." (Thanks, Bob Pescovitz!) Read the rest

Medieval folk didn't drink alcohol to avoid dirty water

A well-established myth debunked. [via MeFi] Read the rest

B.F. Skinner totally geeks out over the box he built for his baby

The Skinner Box, as applied to human infants, was not what you think it was. Psychologist B.F. Skinner did not raise his daughter inside a box without human contact. Nor did she later grow up to be crazy and commit suicide because of said lack of contact. In fact, just a few years ago, Deborah Skinner Buzan wrote a column for The Guardian debunking those powerful urban legends herself.

Instead, what Skinner did was build his daughter the sort of crib that you might expect a scientist raised in the era of mid-20th-century Popular Science-style scientific futurism and convenience to build. He called it the "Air-Crib" and it was designed to maintain a perfectly comfortable temperature, provide baby Deborah with built-in toys to keep her entertained, be simple to clean, and make it easier to stick to the "cry it out" and heavily regimented feeding/sleeping schedules that were, at the time, standard parenting advice. Read the rest

Gaming urban legends

Jonathan Kaulay collects ten of the best. [via Alan White]

In 2005, an unopened copy of the self-deleting game surfaced on Ebay where it was promptly bought for $733,000 by a man from Japan named Yamamoto Ryuichi. Ryichi had planned to document his play through of the game on YouTube. The only video Ryuchi posted was of him staring at his computer screen and crying.

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