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Scientists solve the urinal pee splash-back conundrum

The folks from Utah State?s Splash Lab will never again be mistaken for having a bladder control problem.
Daniel Cooper, @danielwcooper
December 1, 2015
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What a urinal gives in size, convenience and quantity, it takes away in bouncing droplets of hot piss back onto your trousers and shoes. Researchers at Utah State University are hoping to remedy the problem that makes everyone think that you have a bladder control issue by redesigning the urinal cake to end splash back. The university's famous Splash Lab, led by Dr. Tadd Truscott, has developed a new device that's being called a "black hole for urine," an idea that's 100 percent better than The League's pee bib. After looking at all of the various existing urinal insert technology that's floating around, the team looked to nature for inspiration.

They came across a super-absorbent moss, Syntrichia caninervis (or Tortula Moss), which collects significantly larger amounts of water than its brethren. The team replicated this structure using Vantablack, a carbon nanotube creation that lets light enter, but not leave, making it the "world's darkest material." The team tweaked the setup so that instead of trapping visible light, the surface would capture gobs of urine -- making an artificial black hole that captures your pee.

The team presented their findings at a fluid dynamics conference last week in Boston, although we're still a way out from seeing these pop up in our nearest bar. Perhaps we can reduce the need for the hardware to be created at all by both not wearing light-colored cargo shorts and aiming ourselves with a little more care in the future.

In this article: culture, design, Science, Urinal, Urine
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