You, personally, owe a lot to urine. The sunny yellow liquid ferries waste and excess water out of your body, which keeps you from poisoning yourself or outright exploding. But urine has also done a lot for us as a society.
The latest video in the American Chemical Society’s “Reactions” series offers a brief overview of the great things pee has accomplished. Due to its passing resemblance to liquid gold, medieval alchemists were obsessed with the stuff. Their obsession led to all kinds of discoveries, which paved the way for real science and life-changing inventions.
It’s worth noting that the alchemists weren’t the only medieval men with a predilection for pee. Physicians used to make diagnoses by examining, sniffing, and even tasting their patients’ urine.
Scientific interest in urine has not faded. Today, chemists use recycled pee to make medicines, electricity, and even drinking water, as astronauts aboard the International Space Station know all too well.