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  #1  
Old 05-26-2005, 09:54 AM
Surreal Surreal is online now
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If I Were To Drink A Glass Of Mercury, Would It Squirt Out Of My Anus?

Note: This is purely a hypothetical question, and should not be construed as a solicitation for anyone to drink, touch, breathe, or handle mercury in an attempt to answer this question. Please DO NOT consume mercury.

If you've ever poured mercury into your hand, you know that it's nearly impossible to keep it from slipping through the small crevices between your fingers. Would the same principle apply to your anal sphincter muscle?

Suppose you poured yourself a nice tall glass of mercury and drank all of it. Is it true that gravity would quickly pull it through your digestive tract and, once it reached your anus, you would not be able to contain it, and it would come streaming out on to the floor. Is this correct? How long would it take for the mercury to traverse your digestive tract??

Thanks.
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Old 05-26-2005, 10:03 AM
Squink Squink is offline
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From a thread about swimming in mercury:
Quote:
Originally Posted by shelbo
My father-in-law swears that in college he and his friends would occasionally drop some mercury into the beer of unsuspecting victims. The drops of mercury would make its way through the digestive tract, and end up in the victims shorts, in, er, very short order. [/iffy anectodal information]
  #3  
Old 05-26-2005, 10:08 AM
CalMeacham CalMeacham is offline
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I suspect that some would be absorbed by your body (and you'd be in trouble). Most of it wouldn't, but would be trapped at the declivities in your body -- the "bowls" formed by the bottom of your stomach, the loops of your intestines, etc. And instead of staying in one concentrated mass it would probably break into little basll-shaped pellets, kept apart by irregularities in the local geometry and surface contamination from aciods, digestive juices, and whatever you ate.

Also, despite what you say, I suspect that, especially in the form of such "pellets", your body's many sphincters would work just fine in retarding their passage through your body, and that peristalsis would push it along. Eventually, anything not absorbed (little pellets = large surface area = better chance of getting absorbed) would pass out, as in the normal course of things, but not in one large lump, so you might not even notice it. It would probably be encapsulated in your solid waste.



Actually, if I'm not mistaken, a remedy for either diarrhea or constipation during the Civil War was "Blue Mass", which was basically mercury mixed with some other stuff, so this has happened in the past (for the other problem they gave a plug of opium. I learned his from Ken Burns' The Civil War)



In any case, you'd absorb way more mercury than you'd ever want to, and what you did swallow would apparently affect your digestive system, as Blue Mass did. Better get to a doc.
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Old 05-26-2005, 10:14 AM
Mangetout Mangetout is offline
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Anyway, it's dangerous to ingest mercury - because, being so close to the sun, it's very hot and can cause serious burns.
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Old 05-26-2005, 10:20 AM
Diogenes the Cynic Diogenes the Cynic is offline
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On a related note, what happens if you get drops of Jupiter in your hair?
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Old 05-26-2005, 10:25 AM
Campion Campion is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Diogenes the Cynic
On a related note, what happens if you get drops of Jupiter in your hair?
I believe that, in the studies they've conducted, they've found that you'd act like summer and walk like rain. It may even, in some circumstances, remind you that it's time to change. But YMMV.
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Old 05-26-2005, 10:30 AM
Askia Askia is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Diogenes the Cynic
On a related note, what happens if you get drops of Jupiter in your hair?
I can deal with Jupiter. It's Uranus I'm worried about.
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Old 05-26-2005, 10:31 AM
Chronos Chronos is offline
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Consider that it's also pretty hard to keep water from slipping through your hands, but your anus has no great difficulty holding water in. A good sphincter muscle produces a much better seal than do fingers.
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  #9  
Old 05-26-2005, 10:33 AM
Metacom Metacom is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CalMeacham
In any case, you'd absorb way more mercury than you'd ever want to, and what you did swallow would apparently affect your digestive system, as Blue Mass did. Better get to a doc.
Are you sure about that? I thought elemental mercury was relatively safe; it's the salts and inhaled vapors that are dangerous. It's not very water soluble and I wouldn't be surprised if ingesting it was relatively benign.
  #10  
Old 05-26-2005, 10:37 AM
Gfactor Gfactor is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Chronos
Consider that it's also pretty hard to keep water from slipping through your hands, but your anus has no great difficulty holding water in. A good sphincter muscle produces a much better seal than do fingers.
That explains a lot!!
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Old 05-26-2005, 10:43 AM
CalMeacham CalMeacham is offline
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Are you sure about that? I thought elemental mercury was relatively safe; it's the salts and inhaled vapors that are dangerous. It's not very water soluble and I wouldn't be surprised if ingesting it was relatively benign.
I've looked at sites about mercury, and they all tell you not to ingest the stuff. Even if the mercury in liquid form doesn't interact well, yiour body can apparently absorb the vapors pretty easily (which is why there's concern about mercury amalgam fillings, still). Some people attribute Lincoln's erratic behavior (their claim -- I don't know what was erratic about it) prior to taking office to his use of the aforementioned Blue Mass (it was a laxative, and prescribed for other things, too). After he got into office, he stopped taking it, and reputedly got better.


I sure as heck wouldn't drink it.
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  #12  
Old 05-26-2005, 10:48 AM
Padeye Padeye is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Metacom
Are you sure about that? I thought elemental mercury was relatively safe; it's the salts and inhaled vapors that are dangerous. It's not very water soluble and I wouldn't be surprised if ingesting it was relatively benign.
From what little I paid attention to in high school chemistry a metal plus acid results in a metallic salt plus water. I don't think metallic mercury is safe to ingest.
  #13  
Old 05-26-2005, 11:07 AM
vibrotronica vibrotronica is offline
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Best. Thread title. Evar.
  #14  
Old 05-26-2005, 11:12 AM
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The hazcards we have at work which tell us all the dangers of the chemicals we use say mercury is safe to ingest but to seek medical advice anyway.
  #15  
Old 05-26-2005, 11:19 AM
BobLibDem BobLibDem is offline
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Maybe on a hot day it would squirt out your nose. I think some would lodge in a crevice in your intestines, most would be shat out in short order.
  #16  
Old 05-26-2005, 11:24 AM
lieu lieu is offline
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It most likely would make you Mad As A Shatter.
  #17  
Old 05-26-2005, 02:53 PM
AWB AWB is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Metacom
Are you sure about that? I thought elemental mercury was relatively safe; it's the salts and inhaled vapors that are dangerous. It's not very water soluble and I wouldn't be surprised if ingesting it was relatively benign.
Not according to this link:
Quote:
Mercury is a virulent poison and is readily absorbed through the respiratory tract, the gastrointestinal tract, or through unbroken skin. It acts as a cumulative poison and dangerous levels are readily attained in air. Air saturated with mercury vapor at 20oC contains a concentration that exceeds the toxicity limits. The danger increases at higher temperatures. It is important therefore that mercury be handled with care. Containers of mercury should be securely covered and spillage should be avoided. If it is necessary to heat mercury or mercury compounds, it should be done in a well-ventilated hood.
  #18  
Old 05-26-2005, 03:09 PM
Smeghead Smeghead is offline
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They did, indeed, use it as a constipation remedy back in the day. They used to lie a patient on a table that could be tipped in all directions, give the patient a big ol' bolus of mercury, then swing him around to run it through his intestines until it came out the other end, sweeping everything before it.
  #19  
Old 05-26-2005, 03:18 PM
CalMeacham CalMeacham is offline
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Quote:
They did, indeed, use it as a constipation remedy back in the day. They used to lie a patient on a table that could be tipped in all directions, give the patient a big ol' bolus of mercury, then swing him around to run it through his intestines until it came out the other end, sweeping everything before it.
I think you must have your tongue firmly planted in some cheek. This doesn't tally with the use as given elsewhere.



Incidentally, the fact that mercury in Blue Mass certainly does have an effect on the body's digestive tract argues pretty strongly that it is interacting with the body, and isn't inert. I seriously doubt that the laxative effect is mechanical (as Smeg seems to be suggesting).
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  #20  
Old 05-26-2005, 03:27 PM
The Great Sun Jester The Great Sun Jester is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mangetout
Anyway, it's dangerous to ingest mercury - because, being so close to the sun, it's very hot and can cause serious burns.
:: Lobs a pint glass at Mangetout ::
  #21  
Old 05-26-2005, 04:08 PM
Annie-Xmas Annie-Xmas is offline
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Gilda Radner's book "It's Always Something" describes a procedure where they unclogged her system by putting a tube weighed with a condem of mercury on the end of it up her nose and through her digestive system. Only the condem gets unattached and is not on the tube when it's pulled out of her nose. So she does pass the condem and mercury the next day.

Read the book for a detailed description that definitely answers the question.
  #22  
Old 05-26-2005, 05:55 PM
glilly glilly is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Annie-Xmas
Gilda Radner's book "It's Always Something" describes a procedure ....

Read the book for a detailed description that definitely answers the question.
C'mon, can't you just tell us?
  #23  
Old 05-26-2005, 06:14 PM
Mangetout Mangetout is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Askia
I can deal with Jupiter. It's Uranus I'm worried about.
I'm not worried about Uranus, just the ring around it.
  #24  
Old 05-26-2005, 06:40 PM
chaoticbear chaoticbear is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mangetout
Anyway, it's dangerous to ingest mercury - because, being so close to the sun, it's very hot and can cause serious burns.
Well, u'd probably burn ur anus before you were even able to ingest Mercury, because it's so close to the sun... you'd assumedly have to be very close to the sun in order to eat it.
  #25  
Old 05-26-2005, 08:06 PM
wolf_meister wolf_meister is offline
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I think the dangers of mercury (the element and not the planet) are greatly overstated. I'm not suggesting in the least that anyone ingest mercury. However, it's ridiculous when entire schools get shut down for a few days and a haz-mat team has to be brought in because an old mercury barometer broke.
As some may know, I built my own mercury barometer and have lived to tell about it.
Here's a good cite written by a professor at the University of Denver. He's got a PhD in chemistry and he believes elemental mercury's dangers are overexaggerated.
http://www.du.edu/~jcalvert/phys/mercury.htm
  #26  
Old 05-26-2005, 08:43 PM
spingears spingears is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Squink
Quote:
Originally Posted by shelbo
My father-in-law swears that in college he and his friends would occasionally drop some mercury into the beer of unsuspecting victims. The drops of mercury would make its way through the digestive tract, and end up in the victims shorts, in, er, very short order. [/iffy anectodal information]
IIRC mercury wil lodge in the bottom of the stomach and low places in the intestines IF it get that far. It is likely to perferote the stomach also.
As it that isn't bad enough you can get mercury poisoning in an ongoing process!
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Old 05-26-2005, 09:03 PM
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The nice folks at NIOSH state the IDLH level for Hg to be 2 mg/m^3, so I wouldn't do a shooter of it.
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Old 05-26-2005, 10:57 PM
KarlGauss KarlGauss is offline
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You may be surprised to learn that mercury (in the form of both organic and inorganic compounds) has long been used as a diuretic to treat things such as edema (swelling), heart failure, etc. It is actually reasonably effective in this regard.

You may be more surprised to learn mercury containing compounds were used in this fashion quite widely until the 1960's

Although I can't get the text of these articles off the net, it is somewhat distressing to see that mercurials were still the subject of review articles, in "good" journals as recently as 1966.
  #29  
Old 05-26-2005, 11:42 PM
Queen Bruin Queen Bruin is offline
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I believe mercuric ore (cinnabar) was used as a treatment for syphilis back in the days of yore. Often it cured the disease only for the patient to die from mercury poisoning later (I want to say they bathed in it while it was warmed but I could be wrong).
  #30  
Old 05-27-2005, 06:16 AM
scm1001 scm1001 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Padeye
From what little I paid attention to in high school chemistry a metal plus acid results in a metallic salt plus water. I don't think metallic mercury is safe to ingest.
that reaction depends on the oxidation potential of the metal. Mercury is too unreactive to react with the HCl in your stomach
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Old 05-27-2005, 07:24 AM
betenoir betenoir is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mangetout
Anyway, it's dangerous to ingest mercury -
I wouldn't say it's dangerous. It just that afterwards his always running off somewhere and won't stay around for a cuddle


On the other hand he does send flowers.
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Old 05-27-2005, 07:45 AM
Squink Squink is offline
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Monkey Drinks Mercury, Sadness Ensues
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Alma had been healthy and fat until she one day had gotten a hold of a bottle of mercury, which her 'owner' used for his goldmining activities. They believed she had drunk the whole bottle because they found no waste on the ground. Two months on, she was found by the KSDA office and confiscated. By this time she was not in good shape at all.
  #33  
Old 05-27-2005, 08:34 AM
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Wasn't drinking mercury a custom in certain baltic-area countries? i belive the latvians used to drink mercury..why, I have no idea!
  #34  
Old 05-27-2005, 08:43 AM
Sunspace Sunspace is online now
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mangetout
I'm not worried about Uranus, just the ring around it.
I'd be concerned about Klingons, myself...
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Old 05-27-2005, 08:57 AM
Johanna Johanna is online now
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Calomel was a plot point in a Perry Mason episode back in the mid-1960s, IIRC. Some guy had been taking calomel pills and then died. Perry Mason was able to get his client acquitted because he proved someone else had murdered the guy by slipping him lemonade or something with his calomel, causing a reaction that produced toxicity or something. I don't remember exactly, but they did get the point across that calomel was an old-fashioned remedy that no one really used any more.
  #36  
Old 05-27-2005, 08:57 AM
Askia Askia is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sunspace
I'd be concerned about Klingons, myself...
Yeah, you don't wanna let Klingons probe Uranus. It's improctocal and Mogh trouble than ncessary.
  #37  
Old 05-27-2005, 11:37 AM
ZipperJJ ZipperJJ is online now
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Quote:
Originally Posted by The Sausage Creature
I believe mercuric ore (cinnabar) was used as a treatment for syphilis back in the days of yore. Often it cured the disease only for the patient to die from mercury poisoning later (I want to say they bathed in it while it was warmed but I could be wrong).
Yup. I don't know about the swimming, but mercury ("quicksilver") was prescribed as a cure for syphilis back in Victorian times.

According to a passage in a book I was reading last night (Neal Stephenson's 'System of the World'), people with syphilis would carry around bottles of quicksilver to ingest.
  #38  
Old 05-27-2005, 12:52 PM
Excalibre Excalibre is offline
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I've had fantasies as long as I can remember of sitting in (well, on, really) a pool filled with mercury. I wonder what it'd feel like? Would it float you so well that you could sorta walk in it?
  #39  
Old 05-27-2005, 01:37 PM
Squink Squink is offline
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Here's an enormous (6 meter) pool of mercury. Perhaps you could get permission to sit in it.
  #40  
Old 06-01-2005, 12:22 PM
Corner Case Corner Case is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Chronos
Consider that it's also pretty hard to keep water from slipping through your hands, but your anus has no great difficulty holding water in. A good sphincter muscle produces a much better seal than do fingers.
I can produce a much better shadow puppet of a seal using my fingers than I can with my anus. Perhaps your anus is more talented than mine.
  #41  
Old 06-01-2005, 02:11 PM
Chronos Chronos is offline
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Well, it just depends where you put the light source.
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Old 06-01-2005, 02:19 PM
istara istara is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Chronos
...your anus has no great difficulty holding water in.
Not "brown water", it doesn't.

=>anal Niagara Falls
  #43  
Old 06-01-2005, 02:52 PM
Saltire Saltire is online now
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Chronos
Well, it just depends where you put the light source.
But wait, ain't that where the sun don't shine?
  #44  
Old 06-01-2005, 08:01 PM
Pez Pez is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Askia
Yeah, you don't wanna let Klingons probe Uranus. It's improctocal and Mogh trouble than ncessary.
Have you got cling-ons from around the ring of Uranus?
Mad as hatter, I'd say.
  #45  
Old 06-02-2005, 08:58 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by spingears
IIRC mercury wil lodge in the bottom of the stomach and low places in the intestines IF it get that far. It is likely to perferote the stomach also.
The legend I heard at summer camp while growing up was that, if you drank mercury, its weight (13.6 times the density of water) would be so great that it would slam its way down your esophagus, smash through the bottom of your stomach, and pool inside your poor ruptured abdomen.

Then again, these were the same kids who believed that Mikey the Life Cereal Kid dies from eating Pop Rocks.
  #46  
Old 06-02-2005, 09:00 PM
tracer tracer is offline
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Originally Posted by The Sausage Creature
I believe mercuric ore (cinnabar) was used as a treatment for syphilis back in the days of yore.
Indeed. According to one film I had to see in High School about S.T.D.s, the old saying about syphilis was "A night with Venus, a lifetime with Mercury." (Those wacky Renaissance punsters!)
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Old 06-02-2005, 09:03 PM
tracer tracer is offline
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Oh, and before I forget:


What do you call a bunch of holes in the ground that contain mercury?
SPOILER:
Hg wells

Thank you, thank you! I'll bee here all week! Tip your waitstaff!
  #48  
Old 12-06-2005, 02:10 PM
Omniscient Omniscient is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Chronos
Consider that it's also pretty hard to keep water from slipping through your hands, but your anus has no great difficulty holding water in. A good sphincter muscle produces a much better seal than do fingers.
Spoken like a man who knows his anuses.
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Old 12-07-2005, 05:33 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Diogenes the Cynic
On a related note, what happens if you get drops of Jupiter in your hair?
Hey! Where is the obligatory Uranus pun?
  #50  
Old 12-07-2005, 05:35 PM
ouryL ouryL is offline
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Hey! Where is the obligatory Uranus pun?
You know, about finding Mercury in Uranus?
Maybe we can get an astrologer to explain?
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