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Medicine Networking

Belgian Barrels Reveal History of Human Gut Microbes 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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Belgian Barrels Reveal History of Human Gut Microbes

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  • by j-beda ( 85386 ) on Saturday March 01, 2014 @01:53AM (#46373927) Homepage []

    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.

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    • by Anonymous Coward

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

  • Your company's internet service is crap!!!
  • 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.

  • Coprolites? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward

    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: (Score:2, Funny)

      by Hognoxious ( 631665 )

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

      • 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 [] to put barrels in, burying them seems reasonable.

      • What else can you do with a barrel after you've shat in it?
      • World's least annoying time capsule.

      • by Hentes ( 2461350 )

        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.

      • by flyneye ( 84093 ) on Saturday March 01, 2014 @08:38AM (#46374863) Homepage

        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...

      • 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.

      • 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 tha
      • by eionmac ( 949755 )

        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.

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

    • Re:Coprolites? (Score:4, Informative)

      by wonkey_monkey ( 2592601 ) on Saturday March 01, 2014 @07:28AM (#46374731) Homepage

      Excuse for being anal, but - an Anonymous Coward on Slashdot who thinks he knows everything about fossilised poop? Something's wrong here. [] []
      http://rspb.royalsocietypublis... []

    • 700 years does seem like an awfully short time for fossilization to have taken place.
  • by retroworks ( 652802 ) on Saturday March 01, 2014 @04:35AM (#46374353) Homepage Journal
    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.
    • by phayes ( 202222 )

      That's easily explained in a single word: Timothy

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

      This way very few comments will be "off topic"

    • 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 bett

      • by Nexus7 ( 2919 )

        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.

    • We came for the poop, but stayed for the fibre.
  • I always knew I god better internet on the throne.
    Data closet, water closet what's the difference?
  • 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.
  • 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.

  • 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.
  • tracks history of bizarre hoarding.

Don't tell me how hard you work. Tell me how much you get done. -- James J. Ling