The US Government Sells Human Poop

The US Government Sells Human Poop

This government warehouse keeps our entire society up to standard. Part of this video was sponsored by Google Domains. Take the first step to get online with a domain name from Google Domains – go to domains.google/veritasium to get 20% off your first year. #GoogleDomains

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Thanks to Rich Press and NIST for the great visit.
Thanks to Dr. Steve Choquette, Dr. Ben Place, and Dr. Johanna Camara for teaching us about the world of Standard Reference Materials.
You can check out all the cool work going on at NIST here: https://www.nist.gov/

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References:

NIST (2022). Standard Reference Materials. – https://ve42.co/WhyStandard2022

Montgomery, R. & Bercik, I. (2022). NIST Standard Reference Materials 2022 Catalog. – https://ve42.co/SRMCatalog

Vincent, J. (2022). Made to measure: why we can’t stop quantifying our lives. The Guardian –
https://ve42.co/Vincent2022

Proffitt, A. (2022). NIST Develops Monkeypox Reference Materials, Sees Growing Role in Outbreak Response. Diagnostics World. – https://ve42.co/Proffitt2022

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Special thanks to our Patreon supporters:
James Sanger, Louis Lebbos, Elliot Miller, Brian Busbee, Jerome Barakos M.D., Amadeo Bee, TTST, Balkrishna Heroor, Chris LaClair, John H. Austin Jr., OnlineBookClub.org, Matthew Gonzalez, Eric Sexton, John Kiehl, Diffbot, Gnare, Dave Kircher, Burt Humburg, Blake Byers, Evgeny Skvortsov, Meekay, Bill Linder, Paul Peijzel, Josh Hibschman, Mac Malkawi, Mike Schneider, John Bauer, Jim Buckmaster, Juan Benet, Sunil Nagaraj, Richard Sundvall, Lee Redden, Stephen Wilcox, Marinus Kuivenhoven, Michael Krugman, Cy ‘kkm’ K’Nelson, Sam Lutfi

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Written by Derek Muller & Emily Zhang
Edited by Trenton Oliver
Animation by Ivy Tello & Mike Radjabov
Filmed by Derek Muller, Trenton Oliver, and Emily Zhang
Additional video/photos supplied by Pond5 & Getty Images
Music from Epidemic Sound
Produced by Derek Muller, Petr Lebedev, and Emily Zhang

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37 Responses

  1. Edwin Glenn says:

    I used to work as a chemist in a materials testing lab, and we used NIST metallic standards constantly. Our machine shop even machined a lot of those charpy standards for NIST!

    • Lebron James Harden says:

      @Dumont Stocks y u do dis

    • Good Goyim says:

      ok but why dont black people do this

    • Roger Scurlock says:

      I worked at a place called E.W.I.(Edison Welding institute) ours were made from plate that were fused with proprietary welding materials to determine whether or not it was an acceptable application for the customer. We also machined “dog bones” to test tensile strength.

    • Dumont Stocks says:

      NIST? 9ine 11even ruined every bit of their credibility.

    • Rev says:

      @Fenthule Getting my knowledge improved – for free, none the less – is not a reason to be angry. Quite the contrary 🙂
      But I get what you mean. When emotions take over rationality, crappy situations ensue.

  2. David Autry says:

    Thank you for highlighting the important work the team at NIST performs. A fine example of functional government and a team dedicated to their work.

    • Eagle Eye Mind says:

      @Chad Neu Your post = a lot of feelings, but no facts. “I’m right because I say so”. You’re probably a government worker or are employed by a government funded company. Useless

    • Fred Werza says:

      @Adam Scrivener it’s amazing how much propaganda and disinformation that Trumpers like you are spreading

    • Chad Neu says:

      @Adam Scrivener You clearly fall into the weird “GOVERNMENT BAD, NO EXCEPTIONS” camp. Free market capitalism is a race to the bottom. Capitalism needs standards and regulation.

      These standards save a ton of money and save a lot of lives. I’m not sure how you came to the conclusion that it makes things more expensive or gives less choice. That makes zero sense. Even with regulations and standards, companies are constantly caught cutting corners which often times result in a loss of life. NIST is a service that is invaluable to the global economy.

    • M C says:

      @Adam Scrivener I don’t think you understand what NIST is. Without them, businesses would have to spend more money when trying to calibrate their equipment.

      Also, just from a broader perspective outside of what NIST does, regulation is necessary. We tried giving businesses free rein during the early 20th century and a bunch of kids lost arms in factory equipment. Businesses have no concern other than money they will hurt or exploit people for profit if left to their own devices.

    • David Autry says:

      @Adam Scrivener I think you may be confusing the NIST with a regulatory body. NIST is a science laboratory setup by Congress to bring US standards up to world standard at the time. Trusted standards allow for improved safety, quality, and a plethora of other things. How the standards are to be applied and who enforces them is another ball of wax.

  3. Stefano Canossa says:

    Handling a 50 micron spherical ruby single crystal from NIST to calibrate X-ray diffraction equipment has been one of the scariest experiences I ever had as a researcher… I had nightmares about dropping it on the floor and losing it

    • Timo jissink says:

      As someone in the 3D printing field I fully understand how damn small 50 micron is. That is not something to handle with fingers, that’s for sure 😂
      For reference, 400 times smaller than my 2 cm wide thumb

    • hawk 7886 says:

      @Muse Ahmed Honestly it’s not even remotely close to goofing around with a ball on a field. If you’re determined to stick with the football frame of reference, it would be like shooting a football through a cannon a few miles away, detonating a flashbang grenade in your face, and then trying to find the football while in a hurricane.

    • Fred Werza says:

      Umm isn’t 50 microns less than the width of a human hair ?!?

    • Muse Ahmed says:

      It’s kind of like fumbling the at 1 yard line. Go Vikings! 😎

    • Nidhish Shivashankar says:

      I don’t even get how you handle something that small, I assume you have special tools to hold it but what’s stopping you from accidentally inhaling it lol

  4. Wyatt Mathers says:

    As a chem major, the amount of times we check the NIST webbook website to check our compounds for their accuracy has burned their site into my brain. NIST has got to be one of the best resources for any chemistry oriented people who need to know what exactly they’re looking at

  5. Bill Mullins says:

    Great work, Derek, as always.
    True story: Back in the early 70s I worked in a radio maintenance shop at McConnell AFB, Ks and some of the radios we maintained were in the HF band (3 – 30 MHz). The NIST runs a radio station call sign WWV which operates on 2.5, 5, 10, 15, and 20 MHz and continuously broadcasts the current time. We used to tune the radios to WWV to confirm that they were tuning properly. We also would set our watches to WWV so we always had very accurate time on our watches. One evening the wife and I were in a mall window shopping (as a junior enlisted we didn’t have the money to actually BUY anything) when some guy asked me for the time. I told him the time to the second.
    He said “That isn’t right!”
    To which I replied, “Yes it is. I set my watch by WWV just this morning.”
    “What’s WWV?”, he asked.
    ” It’s the national time standard. You know? The same folks who establish the standards for everything in the U.S.” I told him.
    He then asked, “What makes THAT right?”
    Honestly, I didn’t have a comeback. How would you answer someone who questions the National Institute of Standards and Technology? (I’m really hoping you answer my question. I was at a loss.)

    • FreshRot says:

      @Zach Here I thought I just lived near a time anomaly! It’s location is good to consider.

    • Craig Messerman says:

      “Coordinated Universal Time” has to be agreed upon as a standard. I have been listening to WWV since the ’70s also. I had a Seiko digital watch when I was in high school, and I loved knowing the time of the bells to the second. I listen to it with my physics students and have them watch their smartphone clock to see how it is perfectly synced to the radio time signal.

    • Martin Horner says:

      Ultimately, WE did. We all did. Not even just all of the US directing NIST to keep our time standards and maintain the synchronization across the country but they act for the US in international standards committees. WE (homo sapians, as a species) decided what time it was and you set your watch to within a tier or two of the actual US standard (only a step or two removed from the actual atomic clocks used). What makes it right? WE say it is. WE agreed it is.

      And anyone wishing to create a new standard just needs to do the same. Get all of humanity to agree to it.

    • Bart Gacrama says:

      @Faiding But why measure time in terms of the interaction between cesium atoms and photons? Why not other interactions in the physical world?

    • Thomas R says:

      Why would you ask the time only to say your wrong?

  6. Jake Kaufmann says:

    As someone in the analytical chemistry field, these standards are vital. It is how analytical labs are able to charge such a price for what seems to be them just analysing a sample.

    • S. Rose says:

      The FDA just approved lab grown meat. This was after the past few years of lowering standards over areas we can’t talk about. I no longer trust what my government says is “good enough.” I get standards, but what most don’t get is how low they are. Most do get why. Money, power, and manipulation of people emotions to push forward what shouldn’t be pushed.

    • S. Rose says:

      It’s important to realize he doesn’t sell “truth in a bottle,” he sells a government approved standard in a bottle by which we pretend the truth is to be set. 😔 Absolute truth does exist, this reminds me of the standards that were set long ago in “science” and a few brave souls pushed past it to advance us. I had already suspected what this video had to say, but conspiracy theorist are the true scientist of our time. Much like conspiracy theorist Galileo and Copernicus who also provided push back on the unscientific status quo. Government ideals and the scientists that are owned do not meet my standards, most Americans are starting to wake up and feel that way.

    • Miguel says:

      @Kenneth C your sentences make no sense. where did I say they were choosen by NIST. Sigma-Aldrich doesn’t sell soil it only sell chemical CRMs NIST specializes in niche CRMs. Where sigma sells Caffeine CRM Nist sells Baking Chocolate CRM. If Sigma ever started selling baking chocolate or Montana soil CRMs they would instantly be out of business because theres no revenue in niche CRMs. Also Sigma-Aldrich was founded as an american company a vast majority of the facilities are in the US. one more thing the CRMs provided by sigma are not cheap on a gram-to-gram basis the prices are the same. 1G of a caffeine CRM from sigma is $98 and a 50G CRM of Leaded-Tin Bronze Alloy from NIST is $526 which is about $10.52 per G. To be clear no one else sells the CRM that NIST sells except for other gov bodies in different countries, but there are many chemial CRM suppliers because one is a profitable industry the other is not.

    • Kenneth C says:

      @Miguel Sigma-Aldrich
      Owned by Merck. They have MANY competitors, yet THEY were chosen by the AMERICAN NIST (your claim) . Why? Are they the cheapest?
      Why can’t you answer? You can’t address your claim demonstrably, and pretend your platitude is an answer? Speak up?

    • Paradox Regiment says:

      This Kenneth guy sounds like a classic conspiracy theorist who refuses to acknowledge the actual underlying functions behind science lmfao.

  7. Mike Tanis says:

    A legitimate government function. It’s wonderful to see how serious they take their role. And a great story too!

  8. Viola James says:

    Thank you for this video! I’m no scientist. I’m just a writer dabbling in science fiction, but knowing things like these help me to provide a richer landscape in my work. It’s fascinating. Keep up the great work!

  9. MrGothmind says:

    This is the kind of place where they could actually have the perfectly generic object from Homestuck ! Love your content, Derek !

  10. Snek says:

    As someone who poops, I can vouch for the importance of a standard poop sample

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