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The Pressures Of Penguin Poo

Diagram shamelessly pinched from the original publication, but too good to miss. Click to enlarge.
I’ve hung around with some theoretians in my time, and I’ve always wondered what it is that they sit and ponder once they’ve hidden themselves away between the dusty mountains of books that constitute an office.

Well, for two men it became all too obvious when they emerged from the bowels of their respective departments in Germany and Hungary to declare to the world that they’d calculated the pressures produced when a penguin takes a dump. They’d even drawn a diagram.

By using some basic principles of physics and taking time wasting to a whole new level, Victor Benno Meyer-Rochow of the International University in Bremen, Germany and József Gál of Lorand Eötvös University, Hungary worked out the pressure that builds up inside a penguin pre-poop. Their report “Pressures produced when penguins poo – Calculations on avian defecation” became an instant cult classic. It showed that penguins are able to project their faeces with such force it can land up to 15ft away from their nests. They generate pressures of up to 60 kilopascals per poo.

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28 Jan 2010
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