During World War II, the OSS (precursor to the CIA) hatched a plan to defeat General Rommel's Afrika Korps by using synthetic goat poop. The idea was to drop huge amounts of pathogen-laced pseudo-poop over African towns. Local insects would be attracted to the stuff and would then carry the pathogens to Rommel's troops. However, before the plan could be carried out, Rommel's troops were withdrawn from the area and sent to Russia.
In February 1942, General Rommel's Afrika Korps pummeled U.S. forces in North Africa, and the Americans became worried that their defeat would encourage fascist Spain to join the Axis alliance. Moreover, the Germans were amassing troops in Morocco, in preparation for cutting off the railroad from Casablance to Algiers — the sole supply line for Allied forces. A covert operation was needed to debilitate the German troops, break the momentum of the Axis, and save the Allied lifeline... This called for flies.
The plan was to weaken the enemy forces by using flies to spread a witch's brew of pathogens. Given the agency's inability to rear an army of flies, [OSS Research Director] Lovell decided to conscript the local vectors...
Lovell was a chemist, but he'd been out of the laboratory often enough to know that flies love dung. And with a bit of research, he discovered a key demographic fact: There were more goats than people in Morocco — and goat are prolific producers of poop. Lovell now had the secret formula: microbes + feces + flies = sick Germans. Now all he needed was a few tons of goat droppings as a carrier for laboratory-cultured pathogens.
The OSS collaborated closely with the Canadian entomological warfare experts to launch one of the more preposterous innovations in the history of clandestine weaponry: synthetic goat dung. Of course flies are no fools; they won't be taken in by any old brown lump. So the OSS team added a chemical attractant. The nature of this lure is not clear, but a bit of sleuthing provides some clues.
Allied scientists might have crafted a chemical dinner bell by collecting and concentrating the stinky chemicals that we associate with human feces (indole and the appropriately named skatole). While these extracts would have worked, the more likely attractant was a blend of organic acids, some of which had been known for 150 years. Two of the smelliest of these are caproic and caprylic acids, which, by no coincidence, derive their names from caprinus, meaning "goat." Etymologically as well as entomologically astute, Lovell named the operation Project Capricious. So with a scent to entice the flies, Lovell's team then coated the rubbery pellets in bacteria to complete the lures.
All the Americans had to do was drop loads of pathogenic pseudo-poop over towns and villages where the Germans were garrisoned, and millions of local flies would be drawn to the bait, pick up a dose of microbes, and then dutifully deliver the bacteria to the enemy. Lovell worried about keeping the operation clandestine. The Moroccans had to be persuaded that finding goat droppings on their roofs the morning after Allied aircraft flew over was a sheer coincidence. Presumably a good disinformation campaign can dispel almost any suspicion, or, as Lovell intimated, if the plan succeeded there would be very few people in any condition to raise annoying questions about fecal pellets on rooftops...
In the end, however, Lovell didn't have to worry about getting caught by either friends or foes, as the secret weapon was never deployed. Just as the OSS was gearing up to launch the sneak attack, the German troops were withdrawn from Spanish Morocco. They might well have preferred to take their chances with pathogen-laden flies, given that Hitler was sending them to the bloody siege of Stalingrad.
It doesn’t exactly look like the most sophisticated game. So why are copies of Poop Slinger selling for close to $3000 on eBay? Because it’s the rarest PlayStation 4 game in existence. Only 84 copies were ever sold, making it a collector’s item.
Thirteen-year-old Noah De La Paz of California has invented a device to stop dogs from pooping on the lawn of his family’s house. It uses a camera and image-detection software. When a dog is identified, his device emits a high-pitched sound to encourage the dog to move on. Although still in the prototype stage, Noah hopes to eventually bring his invention to market.
I can see some potential problems with his invention. Such as that it doesn't seem to differentiate between pooping and non-pooping dogs. But even so, it sure would beat the currently most popular method of preventing unwanted poopers, which is to put up angry, threatening signs on your lawn.
Much of early Christian theological debate is taken up with the issue of how Jesus is both a god and a human being. Early on there were some early Christians who thought that Jesus only “seemed” to have a human body but in reality was a god. You can see why Christians who held this position thought Jesus never went to the bathroom. This position, which is known as Doceticism, would come to be rejected as heresy, but those who wanted to argue that Jesus was truly human have to explain how the combination of humanity and divinity works. While they are doing that they are also trying to avoid the idea that the divinity in Jesus is somehow defiled by or corrupted by all the disgusting aspects of human bodies. Excrement, in particular, was just the kind of disgusting thing that people wanted to avoid.
There's also a book, published in 2018, with that title (amazon link). I have no idea of its quality (never having read it), but sometimes a title alone can be worth the price of purchase. For instance, the book sounds perfect to include among the reading material in a guest bathroom.
For years the Carlone family of Cleveland had been bothered by a foul smell in their kitchen. Nothing they did could get rid of it. Then they noticed their kitchen wall starting to bulge, until finally, on August 21, 1972, the wall exploded and covered them with 40 gallons of sewage.
It turned out that eight years earlier a technician from the phone company had accidentally drilled a hole through the sewer pipe, causing raw sewage to seep out into the wall cavity. Until it all eventually exploded.
It was reported that the Carlones sued the phone company, but I couldn't find any follow-up reports about their suit.
It amazes me that they had been living with the smell for eight years, and it apparently never occurred to them that it might be related to the sewer pipe in the wall.
Weird science: Spanish researchers have determined that rabbits can differentiate between the poop of predators that have eaten rabbits and those that haven't. From New Scientist:
The researchers ran an experiment on three plots of land spread out across the Spanish countryside. One plot was sprayed daily with the smelly essence extracted from the scat of ferrets on a beef-based diet. Another plot was sprayed with the scat odour from ferrets on a rabbit-based diet. The third was sprayed with water as a control. Every few days, the team counted the rabbit pellets left behind on the plots and used the number as an indicator of how often rabbits were visiting the plots to feed.
There were fewer pellets in the plots sprayed with rabbit-based scat odour than in those sprayed with the beef-based scat odour, suggesting the rabbits were avoiding places where it appeared other rabbits were being eaten.
I assume this means that some researcher had to search around in a field every day to count rabbit pellets.
Paul Di Filippo
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.