An outbreak of mass vomiting at a school in North Carolina is being attributed to some kids getting upset stomachs from eating a combination of fruit juice and spicy chips, and then a bunch of other kids being triggered into “sympathetic vomiting.” That's when people vomit in response to seeing other people vomit. According to wisegeek.com, biologists suspect that the phenomenon has its roots in our evolutionary history:
The smell of vomit is widely considered to be one of the worst in the world, and may induce nausea in anyone nearby. While this may be simply a reaction to a malodorous aroma, it is possible that the body has a subconscious reaction to the smell or sight of the vomit itself. Because of the possibility that something the sick person has consumed has made them ill or poisoned them, your body may chemically decide to rid itself of potentially poisoned contents as well. In groups of apes, group or sympathetic vomiting has been observed after one animal becomes ill after eating. Since the other animals in the tribe have likely eaten the same things, sympathetic vomiting may be used as a survival tactic.
The cow enters the gated feeding area. While the cow is eating, a small bucket automatically swings into place at the back of the cow, moving gently upwards and downwards, massaging her escutcheon – a nerve which stretches between the cow’s vulva and udder. This nerve triggers the urine reflex, causing the cow to urinate. The urine is collected in the CowToilet reservoir and is then extracted and stored separately.
(Today I learned that cow's have a urine reflex!) Once the urine has been collected, it can be processed to produce fertilizer, or even be used to generate electricity. Most importantly, it isn't polluting the ground.
The video below (which is in Dutch) shows the device in action. The demonstration begins at about 1:15. Warning: if you're really squeamish it might gross you out because it does show cows peeing.
Strange ads created by the charity WaterAid in 2015 asking people to imagine what the world would be like if men had periods and had to use 'manpons'. This then served as a lead-in to the info that 1.25 billion women worldwide don't have access to a toilet during their period.
During restoration of the Statue of Liberty in 1986, the restorers noticed an area low on the statue where the patina was worn away and speculated that the damage might have been caused by construction workers urinating from the top of the statue instead of coming down to use a toilet.
Officials vehemently disagreed, insisting that the damage was actually caused by "a vinegar-like solution workers recently used in the process of stripping layers of paint inside the statue."
Perhaps the officials were right, but I prefer the urine stain explanation.
An experiment conducted by animal behavior expert Marc Bekoff of the University of Colorado, Boulder with his dog, Jethro:
While talking Jethro on his daily walk I conducted a study of his sniffing and urination patterns. To learn about the role of urine in eliciting sniffing and urinating, I moved urine-saturated snow ("yellow snow") from place-to-place during five winters to compare Jethro's responses to his own and other dog's urine. Immediately after Jethro or other known males or females urinated on snow, I scooped up a small clump of the yellow snow in gloves and moved it to different locations. For some reasons passers-by thought I was strange and generally left me alone. Moving yellow snow was a useful and novel method for discovering that Jethro spent less time sniffing his own urine than that of other males or females.
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Alex is the creator and curator of the Museum of Hoaxes. He's also the author of various weird, non-fiction books such as Elephants on Acid.
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Paul has been paid to put weird ideas into fictional form for over thirty years, in his career as a noted science fiction writer. He has recently begun blogging on many curious topics with three fellow writers at The Inferior 4+1.
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