spaceSpace and Physics

Scientists Have Created "Urine Black Holes"


Tom Hale

Tom is a writer in London with a Master's degree in Journalism whose editorial work covers anything from health and the environment to technology and archaeology.

Senior Journalist

4098 Scientists Have Created "Urine Black Holes"
Scott/Flickr. (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

Splashback after going pee is the price that men pay for being able to urinate standing up. Thankfully, a group of experts in fluid dynamics have designed a urinal insert that helps subdue splashes and any pee speck-related embarrassment.

Scientists at Utah State University’s Splash Lab revealed their design at the 68th Annual Meeting of the APS Division of Fluid Dynamics in Boston, along with possibly the best scientific abstract of all time:


“Since the mid-nineteenth century, both enlisted and fashion-conscious owners of khaki trousers have been plagued by undesired speckle patterns resulting from splash-back while urinating… We propose improved urinal insert designs based on our experimental data in hopes of reducing potential embarrassment inherent in wearing khakis.”

Like all great designs, the scientists looked towards nature for an answer. They inspected the structure of a superabsorbent moss, called Syntrichia caninervis, which has the ability to collect and store huge amounts of liquid. They also told Gizmodo that inspiration came from “the blackest material ever made,” which is composed of thousands of carbon nanotubes from which light can enter but not escape.

They experimented with other designs of splash absorbers, such as fabrics and honeycomb structures, but the Splash Lab eventually settled on this nanotube pillar design. They created different models with varying nanotube thickness and tested their splashback potential with simulated water streams.

After fiddling about with the variables, they created a “urine black hole,” where urine can enter but not come out. “Its structure allows the droplets to sink deeply in and deforms around the droplet to reduce splashing,” Tadd Truscott and Randy Hurd, leaders of the research, said to Gizmodo.


“While we find the connection to urinals interesting, we are confident that the scientific community will have interest in the interaction between the splashing droplet and the pillars, and understanding how pillars can be used to suppress the splashing of impacting droplets,” they added.



[H/T: Gizmodo]


Main image credit: Scott/Flickr. (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)


spaceSpace and Physics
  • tag
  • fluid dynamics,

  • urine,

  • toilet,

  • liquid,

  • nanotube