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1. The Phosphorus Apparatus

Phosphorus is the fifteenth element of the periodic table of elements, and was the thirteenth to be discovered by science. Like the oxygen in the air we breathe and the water we drink, phosphorus makes us up in the flesh. Without it, all living things would perish. Unlike oxygen, however, phosphorus is relatively rare within our everyday environments. This makes phosphorus life-limiting and arguably the most precious of all mineral resources.

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3. Rifts, Cycles, and Recycles

The human body produces 500 liters of urine and 50 liters of faeces per year. This is equivalent to about half a kilogram of phosphorus. One day’s urine from an adult is sufficient to fertilize a square meter of cropped area for each cropping period.

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Zachary Caple

University of California Santa Cruz

Zachary Caple is a Ph.D. candidate in Cultural Anthropology at the University of California Santa Cruz. Zachary investigates multispecies landscape change in relation to histories of industrial disturbance and state restoration schemes. His dissertation, Holocene in Fragments, describes how one industry — the phosphate fertilizer industry — has transformed the Florida peninsula through mining and agricultural runoff. His research has been funded by the National Science Foundation, Wenner-Gren Foundation, and the Social Science Research Council.