Urine as Ultimate Moisteriser: Obsessed with Bodily Fluids

UKrant 2016

How much does sweat weigh? And why is urine such a good moisturiser? Ruben Verwaal discovered that 18th century scientists used primitive chemistry to study bodily fluids.

By Christien Boomsma

So there he was: Santorio Santorio. The early 17th century Italian doctor had constructed a giant ‘weighing chair’, in which he spent most of his day. The construction was intended to help him study his own metabolism. How much did he weigh at the beginning of the day? How much did his food weigh? How much did he poop or pee? And most importantly: was there a difference?

Pee in a Jar?! Dirty Materials in the History of Science

Urine pot, Tilburg, 1825–1850

Objects can be a real pearl on the shores of history of science. Telescopes and steam engines still figure prominently in our field, and rightfully so. From the edited volume Making Instruments Count (1993) to Frans van Lunteren’s blog ‘Mediating Machines’ at Shells & Pebbles, many scholars research the role of scientific instruments in the history of discoveries, experiments, applications, and education. But besides microscopes and machines I would argue that some artisan objects and ordinary materials deserve similar attention.