Link #93: Urine Glows in Ultraviolet Light!



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Link #93: Urine Glows in Ultraviolet Light!

An ultraviolet lamp turned on by Daniel Christensen, cc3.0

In our last post we explained how the ancient Romans made use of their urine. Ancient Romans used urine for everything ranging from cleaning their teeth to washing their clothes. Since then, we’ve of course found out that it isn’t urine but a substance inside it that makes it such a good cleaning agent – ammonia.

In fact, science has not only verified many things from our history, but also allowed us to discover a lot of interesting things about our pee. For instance, did you know that your pee will glow in ultraviolet light? No doubt this is one of the coolest things about our pee, but why does it happen? We’ve got some answers for you.

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Does Urine Glow in Ultraviolet Light?

Human pee does indeed glow in ultraviolet light or black light. It isn’t only human pee that glows in the dark but also the pee of most mammals such as dogs and cats. In fact, the best way to see this phenomenon is with cat pee because when it comes to glowing, it performs the best.

What you need to do is find a place where your cat peed. Let it dry or clean it up and then use ultraviolet light in complete darkness. You’ll see the pee glowing. Here’s why.

Why Does Urine Glow in Ultraviolet Light?

White phosphorus exposed to air glows in the darkness. Image credit: Endimion17, cc3.0

Urine glows in ultraviolet light because of what it contains. There are two substances in urine that make it glow. The first is phosphorus. Phosphorus is a chemical element that is commonly found in mammal pee.

When ultraviolet light falls on phosphorus in the pee, it ends up showing what happens when phosphorus reacts with oxygen. In other words, the glow you see is the oxidation of phosphorus.

Another reason why urine glows in ultraviolet light is that it contains protein fragments which react to the light. These protein fragments come from broken down proteins that mammals have in their blood.

Phosphorus Was First Discovered in Urine!

The Alchemist Discovering Phosphorus or The Alchemist in Search of the Philosophers Stone by Joseph Wright, PD image.

While you might find it interesting that phosphorus is the main reason why urine glows in ultraviolet light, the really interesting thing is that phosphorus itself was first discovered in urine. This chemical element was discovered by Hennig Brand.

Brand ended up discovering phosphorus in 1669 while trying to create the Philosopher’s Stone. Philosopher’s Stone is a mythical substance that can turn base elements like lead into gold.

Brand’s attempt to create the Philosopher’s Stone involved getting some salts out of urine by evaporating it. His process involved letting urine stand so that it could rot, boiling it down to basic paste and then burning the paste intensely.

When he attempted this process, he ended up with a white substance that would burn brightly and even glow in the dark. This was how phosphorus was discovered for the first time.

After Brand had discovered the process, the process was recreated by a number of scientists and researchers of the time. In fact, one scientist, Ambrose Godfrey-Hanckwitz, even ended up with a business for manufacturing phosphorus.

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