Unusual Uses for Urine
Chances are you aren’t thinking about your urine today. You pass it, you flush it and that’s pretty much it. But did you know that urine has always been important for scientific and industrial advancement? Alchemists—practitioners who tried to turn anything into gold—thought the golden color of urine was connected to a similar pigment in gold. After countless experiments a German alchemist didn’t arrive at gold, but he did manage to produce something completely different: a substance from boiled-down urine that came to be known as phosphorus, the 13th element. This element played a major role in advances not only in medicine, but in dyes and even the world’s first matches.
Today urine is being considered for an impressive array of medical and practical uses—from serving as a source of electric power to helping in the diagnosis of cancer. For some scientists, golden urine is like, well, liquid gold. Here are some ways researchers are studying it today.