Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Why Pee is Cool - entry #6 - "Pee, Our Connection with the Earth's Metabolic Cycle"

Here, in the final PeePeePost, is where we bring all we have learned together and find out how the act of peeing unites us with our planet.

sciseekclaimtoken-4eab48c19bc77 Any form of life that we know of needs two basic things.  The first is matter, as life has to be made of something.  The second is energy, so life can do something with that matter (e.g., move around, reproduce, watch trailer park boys).  Most life on earth gets its energy from the sun.  All life on earth gets its matter from...from earth, duh!

As we learned in the last PeePost, the atoms in your body are no different from the atoms in rocks/oceans/air/etc.  Additionally, the composition of our bodies is close-ish to that of the earth's crust!!

Graph of abundances of chemical elements in the earths' upper continental crust.  We are made mostly of the really abundant stuff in the upper left (e.g., oxygen, carbon, hydrogen, etc.)

Because of those two facts, I like to think of any kind of earth life as little tiny earth particles--walking, talking, peeing, sometimes neighborly little chunks of the earth's crust.

Humans are earth particles.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Why Pee is Cool - entry #5 - "How Pee Unites You With Rocks"

From around the 2nd century onwards, many people subscribed to the doctrine of vitalism.  For alchemists, vitalism primarily meant that matter from the inorganic, inanimate world (crystals, rocks, etc) was fundamentally different from matter from the organic, living world (us, kittens, pee, etc).  Specifically, they believed that that non-living matter could not be transformed into living matter.  Vitalists held that the matter of life, the chemicals that compose living things, could be synthesized only by living things themselves.

In 1828 a German chemist named Friedrich Wöhler made a discovery that bridged the divide between living and non-living matter, and the story of how he did this starts of course with pee.

Friedrich Wöhler. German chemist/peepee enthusiast and 1828 blower of minds.