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Belgian Barrels Reveal History of Human Gut Microbes

timothy posted about 6 months ago | from the stick-with-the-fresh-beer dept.

Medicine 56

sciencehabit writes "700-year-old human feces, preserved in sealed barrels under a town square from the Middle Ages, are shedding new light on the evolution of the bacteria in our guts. Viruses isolated from the ancient poop reveal a growing arms race between our native bacteria and microbial invaders. Such viruses may have been instrumental in helping us digest food, temper inflammation, and fight obesity." Less frightening news that touches on the same domain: European cities (notably Britain) decided to go with sewers instead of barrels, and now, writes reader DW100 "An ISP in the UK has come up with an innovative way to deliver broadband around London: its Victorian sewer network. Geo Networks runs the cables along the roof of the sewers, avoiding any 'waste' issues and providing fast, low-latency, high-fibre services to business and other providers."

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Google did this back on April 1 of 2007 (4, Informative)

j-beda (85386) | about 6 months ago | (#46373927)

http://www.google.ca/tisp/ [google.ca]

Google TiSP (BETA) is a fully functional, end-to-end system that provides in-home wireless access by connecting your commode-based TiSP wireless router to one of thousands of TiSP Access Nodes via fiber-optic cable strung through your local municipal sewage lines.

Installing TiSP

Installing a typical home TiSP system is a quick, easy and largely sanitary process -- provided you follow these step-by-step instructions very, very carefully.

#1 Remove the spindle of fiber-optic cable from your TiSP installation kit.

#2 Attach the sinker to the loose end of the cable, take one safe step backward and drop this weighted end into your toilet.

#3 Grasp both ends of the spindle firmly while a friend or loved one flushes, thus activating the patented GFlush system, which sends the weighted cable surfing through the plumbing system to one of the thousands of TiSP Access Nodes.

#4 When the GFlush is complete, the spindle will (or at least should) have largely unraveled, exposing a connector at the remaining end. Detach the cable from the spindle, taking care not to allow the cable to slip into the toilet.

#5 Plug the fiber-optic cable into your TiSP wireless router, which has a specially designed counterweight to withstand the centripetal force of flushing.

#6 Insert the TiSP installation CD and run the setup utility to install the Google Toolbar (required) and the rest of the TiSP software, which will automatically configure your computer's network settings.

#7 Within sixty minutes -- assuming proper data flow -- the other end of your fiber-optic cable should have reached the nearest TiSP Access Node, where our Plumbing Hardware Dispatchers (PHDs) will remove the sinker and plug the line into our global data networking system.

#8 Congratulations, you're online! (Please wash your hands before surfing.)

Re:Google did this back on April 1 of 2007 (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46375803)

And if you are a typical slashdot user .... please wash your hands after surfing too

informative? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46377411)

Looks like you are getting moded informative, not funny. Jokes on them, and April 1, 2014 is just around the corner.

Re:informative? (1)

j-beda (85386) | about 6 months ago | (#46379091)

Looks like you are getting moded informative, not funny. Jokes on them, and April 1, 2014 is just around the corner.

Well, I got at least one "overrated", so there's that.

Slash.. (-1, Offtopic)

Dj Stingray (178766) | about 6 months ago | (#46373973)

..vertizement. Much clever! Wow. Such ninja!

Re:Slash.. (1)

davester666 (731373) | about 6 months ago | (#46374049)

really? the only thing I got out of the summary was that barrels don't scale well when used as a sewage system.

maybe you read further than I did.

Re:Slash.. (1)

gIobaljustin (3526197) | about 6 months ago | (#46374241)

That might be the case, but it might also not be the case.

Re:Slash.. (1)

flyneye (84093) | about 6 months ago | (#46374847)

Although I didnt read the summary, it is easy to extrapolate that, in older times, people got their shit together.

Re:Slash.. (1)

gstoddart (321705) | about 6 months ago | (#46375087)

really? the only thing I got out of the summary was that barrels don't scale well when used as a sewage system.

Really? The summary says "ancient Belgian poop found in barrels", followed by "and speaking of poop, an ISP is running cables along the top of sewers in a place where they didn't use barrels for poop".

Absolutely a Slashvertizement.

This Hotel in Belgium Is Shaped Like a Giant Anus (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46373985)

http://www.vice.com/read/this-... [vice.com]

"This brings us to the anus hotel. More specifically, the Atelier Van Lieshout, CasAnus, 2007, a conceptual one-room hotel made by Dutch artist Joep van Lieshout. The hotel lets its visitors fulfill their lifelong dreams of curling up to sleep in a giant butthole."

Re:This Hotel in Belgium Is Shaped Like a Giant An (0)

davester666 (731373) | about 6 months ago | (#46374057)

what exactly makes it a "hotel" vs say, a motel, or say, a tent-for-rent?

Re:This Hotel in Belgium Is Shaped Like a Giant An (0)

Optimal Cynic (2886377) | about 6 months ago | (#46374465)

Sufficient fibre in the diet and a regular, open minded sexual partner.

Future help desk call (1)

Frett2 (630407) | about 6 months ago | (#46374003)

Your company's internet service is crap!!!

Old news day? (1)

Firethorn (177587) | about 6 months ago | (#46374041)

I remember the proposals for sewer fiber networks at least a decade ago, even saw the robot that did the placement.

As for the gut bacteria, haven't we seen this with species like fruit flies? Their sperm packages are actually toxic(to kill competing sperm), too many generations difference between them though and it'll kill the female.

Re:Old news day? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46374063)

Toxic sperm kills females? Do gayniggers know about this?

Re:Old news day? (3, Informative)

haruchai (17472) | about 6 months ago | (#46374073)

Right. Paris has been rolling out fiberoptic by sewer robot for years.

fight obesity by eating shit (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46374061)

Do they sell this vintage miracle shit at Whole Foods yet?

Re:fight obesity by eating shit (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46374067)

No, It's sold under the label of Vitamin Water.

Re:fight obesity by eating shit (1)

flyneye (84093) | about 6 months ago | (#46374851)

I can see the ads for it now ROLLLL OUT THE BARREL,Lets have a barrel of fun!

Keeping your connection...regular (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46374093)

High fibre!

Coprolites? (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46374101)

Excuse me for being anal, but-- 700 year old fossilized/petrified feces that you can extract DNa from? Something's wrong here. If these turds were coprolites they would by definition not contain any of the original organic material. I suspect what they found are paleofeces, not coprolites.

Re:Coprolites? (1, Funny)

Hognoxious (631665) | about 6 months ago | (#46374197)

What I don't get is why someone would shit in a barrel and then bury it.

Re:Coprolites? (1)

egcagrac0 (1410377) | about 6 months ago | (#46374225)

What I don't get is why someone would shit in a barrel and then bury it.

I, for one, try not to keep barrels of shit in the living room.

Subterranean storage seems like a good idea. Since I don't have a cave [wikipedia.org] to put barrels in, burying them seems reasonable.

Re:Coprolites? (1)

DrPBacon (3044515) | about 6 months ago | (#46374233)

What else can you do with a barrel after you've shat in it?

Re:Coprolites? (1)

will_die (586523) | about 6 months ago | (#46374501)

empty it and reuse, no need to seal it up to store for future use.

Re:Coprolites? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46375355)

Incorrect. Barrel bombs.

Re:Coprolites? (2)

Livius (318358) | about 6 months ago | (#46375391)

You're missing the point.

Empty it where?

Re:Coprolites? (1)

gmhowell (26755) | about 6 months ago | (#46379435)

You're missing the point.

Empty it where?

Push it over the border to France where nobody will notice the smell.

Re:Coprolites? (1)

Hognoxious (631665) | about 6 months ago | (#46386727)

Into another barrel. Do I have to do all the st^H thinking round here?

Re:Coprolites? (2)

Darinbob (1142669) | about 6 months ago | (#46374407)

World's least annoying time capsule.

Re:Coprolites? (1)

Hentes (2461350) | about 6 months ago | (#46374735)

Old things get buried over time, it wasn't necessarily the original owner who buried it. As for the why, my guess is that they were used against attackers.

Re:Coprolites? (4, Funny)

flyneye (84093) | about 6 months ago | (#46374863)

Because eventually, like an old grave, erosion, animals and time will carry away most of the dirt below, leaving a crust of earth above. Some schmoe will come along, step on the weak spot and find himself up to his chin in the middle ages second oldest trick in the book; youve just stepped in some shit!
Often this was coupled with the oldest trick in the book( lookest thou over there) to ensure success of the second. But the dead brilliance of being able to set it so far in the future, show the Belgians to be superior amongst the Europeans, as if we didnt know from the beer already...

Re:Coprolites? (1)

camperdave (969942) | about 6 months ago | (#46375835)

What I don't get is why someone would shit in a barrel and then bury it.

Who says they did it in that order? I've seen half buried barrels used as toilets in some of the campgrounds I've visited.

Re:Coprolites? (1)

Peter Simpson (112887) | about 6 months ago | (#46377015)

I suspect they shoveled the shit (from wherever it was accumulating -- the road?) into the barrels for removal. Why they decided to do this instead of shoveling it into wagons and dumping it outside the town somewhere, I can't tell you. I also have no idea why expensive barrels would be used to store shit (though it's obvious that they wouldn't ever be used for anything else) or why they chose to bury them under the town square. Maybe it was a message to the politicians of the day?

I *can* tell you that shit-shoveler was probably not a job high in prestige.

Re:Coprolites? (1)

eionmac (949755) | about 6 months ago | (#46382189)

The buried dung in barrels was that from the ill and diseased, as opposed to the normal human dung which was spread on farmland to fertilise it.
PS Dung farmers (the gatherers and movers) were the highest paid manual folk in the middle ages.

Re:Coprolites? (1)

gzuckier (1155781) | about 6 months ago | (#46384143)

well you're not going to bury it first, then try to shit in it. how dumb would that be?

Re:Coprolites? (3, Informative)

wonkey_monkey (2592601) | about 6 months ago | (#46374731)

Excuse for being anal, but - an Anonymous Coward on Slashdot who thinks he knows everything about fossilised poop? Something's wrong here.

http://www.sciencemag.org/cont... [sciencemag.org]
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pu... [nih.gov]
http://rspb.royalsocietypublis... [royalsocie...ishing.org]

Re:Coprolites? (1)

camperdave (969942) | about 6 months ago | (#46375817)

700 years does seem like an awfully short time for fossilization to have taken place.

High-fibre (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46374115)

high-fibre services

Is that a special cable that keeps the sewers clean? The article doesn't seem to be raw enough on details.

How are These Two Stories Related? (4, Insightful)

retroworks (652802) | about 6 months ago | (#46374353)

I read both stories, can't quite figure out why we needed a double header. There's nothing related between the two articles other than, perhaps, the correlations to getting a giggle out of a 13 year old. The story on coprolites is more classically interesting, by the way.

Re:How are These Two Stories Related? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46374809)

Cuz poop

Re:How are These Two Stories Related? (1)

phayes (202222) | about 6 months ago | (#46375161)

That's easily explained in a single word: Timothy

Re:How are These Two Stories Related? (1)

formfeed (703859) | about 6 months ago | (#46376165)

I read both stories, can't quite figure out why we needed a double header. There's nothing related between the two articles

Exactly.
This way very few comments will be "off topic"

Actually informative summary (1)

Nexus7 (2919) | about 6 months ago | (#46377371)

Moreover, the summary of the first part (about gut bacteria) is just an exercise in poor writing. Let me summarize from the linked article, without similarly confusing bacteria, viruses, and microbes. Coprolites from Belgium had different gut bacteria species waging antibiotic warfare on each other. Each made antibiotics to kill other invasive bacterial species, and viruses (of the kind called bacteriophages) moved genetic material between bacteria (of the same kind) thus helping that bacterial species better fight the invasive bacteria.

Then there is some unrelated article, with possibly an equally poor summary, but my attention span was already exhausted.

Re:Actually informative summary (2)

Nexus7 (2919) | about 6 months ago | (#46377407)

The article also makes an important point, which the OP misses in their summary, which is that the coprolites had a wider range of antibiotic-resistance genes, implying that present day human gut bacteria aren't as capable of fighting invasive bacteria.

Re:How are These Two Stories Related? (1)

ddifethwr (917185) | about 6 months ago | (#46388087)

We came for the poop, but stayed for the fibre.

I always knew I god better internet on the throne. (1)

DeTech (2589785) | about 6 months ago | (#46374529)

I always knew I god better internet on the throne.
Data closet, water closet what's the difference?

THAT IS ONE WAY TO GET A SHITLOAD OF BANDWIDTH !! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46374747)

The British Way !!

Awsum! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46374759)

I get my shit disposal and broadband from the same company, swell!

Similar has been done before (2)

fendragon (841926) | about 6 months ago | (#46375119)

There was a network of hydraulic pipes around the City of London, originally for powering hydraulically operated lifts (elevators) from a central source of water pressure. The pipes, unused for many decades, were bought up by Mercury Communications as a ready-made conduit for their new fibre network in the 1980s. It was obviously far cheaper than digging up the road for new pipework, as far as it went.

Gives a whole new meaning... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46375229)

Gives a whole new meaning to "I have a shitty connection".

Seriously... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46375287)

...what a crock of shit.

How appropriate. (1)

fahrbot-bot (874524) | about 6 months ago | (#46376139)

Geo Networks runs the cables along the roof of the sewers, avoiding any 'waste' issues ...

The Internet is a series of tubes sending digital crap to your home, that runs through a series of tubes sending physical crap away from your home.

Re:How appropriate. (1)

plopez (54068) | about 6 months ago | (#46377739)

Ted is that you?

Fiber in the sewers (1)

manu0601 (2221348) | about 6 months ago | (#46379301)

Fiber in the sewers is nothing new. Many operators use it in Paris up to the risible situation where multiple fibers can connect a building.

also (1)

gzuckier (1155781) | about 6 months ago | (#46384133)

tracks history of bizarre hoarding.

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