Weird Science: Eating Insects To Fight Global Warming & The Miracle of Chicken Shit

Science Features Oddities
Share Tweet Submit Pin
Weird Science: Eating Insects To Fight Global Warming & The Miracle of Chicken Shit

This Week in Weird Science: Would you eat insects to fight global warming? That seems to be a viable solution according to research out of the University of Edinburgh. Speaking of global warming, chicken shit just might be the next biofuel. Who needs electric cars when you have chicken dung? Finally, the world receives confirmation that creative people literally see a completely different reality, which explains why some people find beauty in tomato soup cans.


Would you eat insects to fight global warming?

It’s long-been known that the livestock industry is one of the primary contributors to global warming. Cow farts, burps, and moos produce enough methane per year to do the same greenhouse damage as four tons of carbon dioxide, and an individual cow emits between thirty and fifty gallons of methane per year. With somewhere around 1.5 million cows on the planet, the gas adds up quickly.

Because of that, researchers at the University of Edinburgh and Scotland’s Rural College concocted a scenario in which half of the world’s animal products were replaced by insects and imitation meat, and the team found that by halving the global livestock consumption by eating more insects, it would free up 1,680 million hectares of land—or about 70-times the size of the U.K..

Of course, the scientists weren’t entirely serious about switching to a diet of crickets and lady bugs. They more wanted to test the plausibility. Even shifting to a diet with less beef, but more fish or chicken, will yield similar environmental savings.

“A mix of small changes in consumer behaviour, such as replacing beef with chicken, reducing food waste and potentially introducing insects more commonly into diets, would help achieve land savings and a more sustainable food system.”


Creative people literally see a completely different world.

Bringing scientific backing to the art-school-weird stereotype, a study recently published in the Journal of Personality Research found that creative people really do see the world differently than everybody else, which also likely explains how some can find understanding in the “restrained chaos” of Jackson Pollack while others simply see an accident on canvas.

It’s always been thought that the difference those who “get it” and those who don’t boiled down to creative interpretation—you see a man, a duck, and a goat and they see a liturgical demonstration of the Grecian conscience amid Western demands.

As highlighted in New Scientist, the authors, out of the University of Melbourne in Australia, measured the personalities of 123 volunteers and gave each an additional “binocular rivalry” test, in which each eye takes in a different image—a red dot on one side and green dot on the other. Most participants processed the visual overload as one dot, one color, switching between sides; however, a handful of participants saw something else: Two dots morphed together into one red-green image.

When the authors compared the vision results to the personality test, they noticed that those who scored highest on “openness to experience,” a trait often linked to creativity, were also those likely to have experienced the image blending.

“When you present open people with the binocular rivalry dilemma, their brains are able to flexibly engage with less conventional solutions,” said author Anna Antinori to New Scientist. “We believe this is the first empirical evidence that they have different visual experiences to the average individual.”

“They seem to have a more flexible gate for the visual information that breaks through into their consciousness,” Antinori continued.

Literally, they different reality, which almost certainly explains why some artists are…eccentric.


Screw vegetable oil, chicken shit’s the next big biofuel.

Who needs ethanol or vegetable oil when you have millions of tons of chicken shit? That’s what a group of researchers out of Nigeria’s Landmark University think. The team of scientists have developed a way to turn poultry poop into a viable biofuel.

Mixing together the fecal matter with Tithonia diversifolia—a.k.a. Tree marigold a.k.a. the Mexican sunflower—the scientists allow anaerobic microbes to digest both the waste and Mexican sunflowers to create a new, natural biogas.

Why would anyone need/want/do this?

For starters, we have too many damn chickens and subsequent shit that we don’t know what to do with it. Every day some 55 million chickens are eaten. Do you know how much waste 55 million chickens produce? Hell, that much shit could power a nuclear substation—in our purely hyperbolic, hypothetical supposition. Africa has three problems: Chicken shit, switchgrass, and clean energy. This solves all three. Plus, for every 18 lbs of sunflower-shit concoction, 7 lbs of fuel is produced, which is more than enough to start and power a typical generator and the residual potion works as a decent fertilizer.

Hopefully these results mean that some day a trip to KFC can yield a net-positive in gas money.

Top photo by Pixabay

Tommy Burson is a travel writer, part-time hitchhiker, and he’s currently trying to imitate Where in the World is Carmen San Diego but with more sunscreen and jorts.