The Renewable Resource of Urine Powered Electronics

Urine is rich in minerals and it is believed that this resource will be able to be harnessed and extracted efficiently and cost effectively at some point in the future to produce electrical energy. At the Bristol Robotics Laboratory in the U.K., urine is being studied as a potential energy resource for residential use within the near future (e.g. used to charge a smartphone etc.). Charging a smartphone with urine requires battery like fuel cells with Professor Ioannis Leropoulos (pronounced “yan-iss lee-raw-po-lis”) having developed a system capable of meeting this requirement. The application itself is referred to as “microbial fuel cell” technology, a system which leverages live bacteria to generate electrical current. Urine contains carbon, phosphorus, potassium, sulphur, magnesium, and creatinine, all elements which microbes require to continue living and growing which is why this technology functions as it does. The microbial fuel cell’s central tube is porous ceramic, allowing urine to permeate the tube and microbes to colonize it. As the elements of urine are consumed, electrons generated by the microbes are picked up by the cells of opposing wire coils, creating a battery. Not just any microbe will suffice however, as specific microbes are required for this process to be effective. To source the correct microbes, scientists leverage a plethora of microbes available within the natural environment (e.g. lake, pond, river sediment etc.). Each fuel cell produces 1.5 volts of electrical current, and when linked together in series, output can be increased to a level which is useful for daily activities. The system is able to be scaled so that it can be built into future homes, allowing for individuals and families to recycle urine as a means of generating electrical energy. Leropoulos’ work has been funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation as well as by the European Commission among others and is close to becoming commercially available as of 2020. For this system to benefit users, separate urinals would be installed but with redirected plumbing to funnel urine away from becoming mixed with common sewage and into a collection container, providing an on demand resource which can be utilized when needed

The Discovery of Bacterium Causing Stomach Ulcers

For decades the medical community believed gastric ulcers were directly related to stress with the only options for relief being antacids and surgery. In the early 1980’s, Australian physicians Barry Marshall and Robin Warren discovered through biopsies of gastric ulcers, that nearly all were overrun by helicobacter pylori bacteria. Helicobacter pylori only seems to infect humans, as studies performed upon pigs and rats were unsuccessful as these animals were unable to contract the bacterium. Marshall decided to infect himself and within 5 days of doing so, he started running to the bathroom each morning to throw up. Tests demonstrated that Marshall had gastritis, a precursor to an ulcer. Marshall took antibiotics and was cured, proving once and for all that ulcers are caused by bacteria not stress. In 2005, Marshall and Warren won the Nobel Prize in Medicine for their findings

The Reason Alcoholic Hangovers are Unpleasant

A hangover at its most basic premise is caused when the body does not have enough water to run its citric acid cycle (also referred to as “CAC”, “tricarboxylic acid cycle”, “TCA cycle”, and/or “Krebs cycle”). This is exactly the process which occurs when a person dies of thirst. Although hangovers are typically not dangerous, this is part of the reason why they feel so uncomfortable

The Original Intention of the 13th Century Italian Carnival Festival

The Italian festival of Carnival which takes place during the winter in Venice, Italy, is a 13th century tradition designed to allow anonymity and indulgence before Lent commences. Ash Wednesday marks the end of Carnival and the beginning of Lent, a 40 day period of fasting and reflection. Catholic priests mark patrons forerheads with ash, a symbol of purification by fire. The 40 days of Lent represent the 40 days Jesus Christ spent in the wilderness, preparing for the culmination of his ministry upon Earth whilst being tempted by the devil. Historically, Lent was the final stretch of winter, with the last of any meat being finished during Carnival. Because of the challenges associated with winter, European Christians turned to their faith to help guide them through to the other end

The Practice of Cannibalism in Modern Day Papua New Guinea and Fijian Antiquity

In Papua New Guinea, there is a cannibalistic tribe referred to as the “Irian Jaya” who reside in West Papua. Despite cannibalism being illegal in Papua New Guinea, the practice has significant cultural and anthropological value to various indigenous peoples of the region, and because of this, cannibalism has been officially recorded to have occurred as late as 2012. Fiji was once referred to as the “Cannibal Isles” because of its fierce reputation for human consumption, despite the small island being isolated from the mainland of Papua New Guinea and separated by 3900 kilometers of Pacific Ocean

The Italian Concept of Caffè Sospeso

In Italy, cafes often allow customers to purchase a suspended coffee, which is a drink paid for and donated to be consumed by a future customer at no cost, referred to as a “caffè sospeso” which means “suspended coffee” in Italian. This act of charity and humanitarianism does not allow the purchaser to know who consumes their donation, and does not allow the receiver to know who provided it, as the barista decides who should receive said gift. This act of kindness started in the 1930’s when poverty was rampant in Europe, as it was believed that a coffee provided at no charge revitalized an individual and made their entire day better, more so because of the act itself, rather than the coffee or money involved

The Reason Carbonated Drinks Become Flat

Carbonated drinks are in a state of super saturation in respect to how much carbon dioxide they contain. Once a solution has reached complete saturation, it won’t allow any more of whatever substance is saturating it. If salt is added to a glass of water, eventually it will reach a point in which the salt just falls to the bottom rather than being dissolved in the water due to over saturation. If a solution is heated, it will be able to tolerate higher levels of saturation, and if it is cooled it is able to tolerate lesser levels of saturation. Carbonated drinks are water saturated with carbon dioxide, and this carbon dioxide is always looking for a method to escape which is why all carbonated drinks eventually turn flat provided enough time has passed. When sugar is added to a carbonated drink, the sugar nucleates the drink in that it provides a method of escape for the carbon dioxide present. Sugar, Mentos, and other various substances have a large surface area which allows a lot of carbon dioxide to become attached to it resulting in a rapid escape

The 18th Century Gin Craze and it’s Association with Murder

Gin was highly consumed in poorer areas of London, England as it was a cheaper alternative to beer. Gin was unregulated during the early 18th century, and was often badly distilled and filled with harmful compounds like oil of vitriol which is similar in construct to modern day turpintine, sulfuric acid, and methylated spirits. By 1750, gin consumption was at its peak, with the city of London consuming 11,000,000 (11 million) gallons per year. In the poorest areas of London, specifically upon the east end, it was not uncommon for everyone in public to be permanently drunk; an analogue to the modern day crack cocaine epidemic of the 1980’s. All members of society consumed gin including men, women, and children, with many cases exhibiting severe addictive traits as was the case with Judith Darfour, who took her child into a heath, murdered them to sell their petticoat clothing and acquire more gin, then attended work later that day as if nothing had occurred. Gin related crime soared and Mothers Ruin which refers to “women who killed their family members to acquire funds for gin” was responsible for the deaths of thousands of men, women, and children. When the death rate climbed higher than the birth rate, the British government was forced to intervene, outlawing small gin distilleries and ending the era referred to as the “Gin Craze”

The Advent of the Restaurant in Paris, France

The modern concept of the restaurant is a French idea, with the term “restaurant” being derived from the term “restaurer” which means to ”provide food for” in French, with a more literal translation of “restoration” in that a restaurant is a place to restore, replenish, and refill one’s energy. Chef Antoine Beauvilliers (pronounced “ann-twon boo-vill-ee-yay”) opened the Grande Taverne de Londres Restaurant (pronounced “gran tah-vern de lon”) in Paris, France in 1782. Fine cuisine was served at private tables, to the general public, an experience which until then had only been available within the homes of the nobility. The main idea which caught on was not only the introduction of the serving of food, but that the food being served wasn’t preselected as was customary during dinner banquets for nobility. The ability to choose from a selection of items upon a restaurant’s menu was very popular once made available to the Parisian public. The timing for this invention was absolutely perfect as the abolition of the French monarchy and related nobility during the French Revolution left many extremely talented chefs suddenly without work which lead to a large number of these chefs opening up restaurants of their own

The Reason Beer Bottles Are Brown and Green

Alcoholic beverages like beer are brown in color because clear glass allows ultraviolet light to penetrate which can alter the flavor profile. Bottles inevitably became tinted brown to prevent ultraviolet light from achieving full penetration. After World War II, green bottles became popular due to shortages of brown glass