back to article Crap alchemist jailed for poo-into-gold experiment

A Northern Ireland man has been jailed for three months for causing £3,000 of damage to his flat after attempting to turn his own faeces into gold using an electric heater. Paul Moran, 30, admitted arson and endangering the lives of others, the Belfast Telegraph reports. He will spend 12 months on licence upon his release. …


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  1. Mondo the Magnificent


    So, in essence, one man's turn can also be his treasure?

    Sounds like a shitty concept to me!

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    What a moran!

    Guy must be a complete and utter fertiliser-head!

  3. Torben Mogensen

    Purer state?

    The most likely transformation of himself into another state would be death. You can argue that this is, indeed, a purer state. It would also give him a good shot at earning a Darwin Award.

    But, hey, if we don't call people silly for believing in one or several gods, why should we call them silly for believing they can turn crap into gold?

    1. Tchou

      Exact same concept

      as you can't prove impossible things.

    2. Peter Simpson 1

      Not Darwin...

      ...I think we may have a candidate for the 2012 igNobel Prize in Chemistry here!

    3. Ian Stephenson

      Gerald Ratner managed it

      Rather successfully for a long time.

      1. Olafthemighty


        Shirley you've got that the wrong way round. Didn't he turn gold into crap?

        1. Ian Stephenson


          Nah, I meant the sale of crap generating golden dividends - at least up until he opened his mouth!

  4. James Boag

    It worked for Microsoft !

    Just look at the returns they made from vista !

    1. Big-nosed Pengie
      Thumb Up

      Beat me to it, dammit!

  5. LuMan

    Argos managed it the other way...

    ...most of the 'gold' they sell is actually shit!

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward


      That was Ratners...

      1. HipposRule

        Have you seen the crap that Elizabeth Duke jewellery is?

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      That wasn't Argos...

      ... I think you were thinking of Ratners. As in "That's a steaming great heap of Ratners, that is".

  6. Ru

    "the judiciary are in on alchemical secrets denied the rest of us"

    Are you sure? It is clear that the legal profession have demonstrated considerable aptitude in converting intangible things into gold (or at least, wealth)... mostly greed and stupidity, but no small amount of vanity.

    1. Field Marshal Von Krakenfart

      They're called patent lawyers, and not only can they turn shit into gold, they can also turn shit into dollars and other useful currencies.

    2. Sir Runcible Spoon


      Surely everyone knows you need to start with Antimony, not excrement.

  7. XMAN

    Jail for an accident?

    Regardless of how misguided his experiment was, it seems a tad over the top to send it to jail over it. Yes, he screwed up, yes he started a fire - but surely he should just be liable for the damages, not thrown in jail!

    1. Eddie Edwards

      Sort of agree

      I think jail time may be justified if he endangered life, but arson is the crime of intentionally setting fires, which doesn't seem appropriate (plea bargain?)

      1. Just Thinking

        The same argument surely applies to endangering life. If it never occurred to him that the stuff might catch fire, where was the intent?

        (And if he thought he could turn crap into gold by heating it, he probably didn't realise it might catch fire).

        Sometimes unintended consequences do get taken into account in sentencing, it doesn't always seem entirely fair. But the alternative is a world where people get punished for doing things which might have caused damage, while others are let off for things which did cause damage.

        1. Steven Roper

          @ Just Thinking

          "Intent" only works for the favourites of the ruling class, as in Phorm and BT were not prosecuted for flagrant violations of the DPA because they had "no criminal intent". However, such protections do not apply to us mere plebeians. It's called "democracy", don't you know, which I think once had something to do with the Greek words for "people" and "rule" but the meaning seems to have changed over time.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        "intentionally setting fires"

        I think he was just arson around...

      3. John Bailey

        Wrong continent. Plea bargains are not part of UK law.

    2. Aaron Em

      He's in a council flat

      and you expect him to stump up three thousand quid?

      1. Andus McCoatover

        He's not in a council flat...

        Unless the council owns the jail, natch...

      2. Crofty616

        RE: He's in a council flat

        ...hes also trying to turn his own crap into gold, which i would of thought would say more about his finances than living in a council flat ;)

      3. This post has been deleted by its author

      4. LaeMing

        He just needs to

        reverse the polarity on the thermostat and he will be rolling in gold, so why not?

    3. Daniel 1

      Dumbledore and Dumbleder

      It shows how times have moved on, however. If you'd told the Northern Ireland police, twenty years ago, that you'd accidentally started a fire while trying to make something using fertiliser, you might have risked a good deal more than jail time!

    4. Dave 15

      yup... wrong to jail him

      Next you'll be jailing harrased mothers who set the chip pan on fire.

      Its nonsense to jail someone even for a very stupid accident.

  8. Spanners Silver badge

    I think this shows

    that alchemy is a lot of cr*p.

  9. The First Dave


    He may not have made Gold, but he did get some copper...

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Thumb Up


      Bravo, sir, bravo. It's a travesty you haven't hit +10 for that.

  10. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge

    Jail for this?

    What's next? Gitmo for moldy sandwich left to fester for 6 months in fridge?

    Or did the judges think he attempted nuclear transformations in his home?

    1. Pseu Donyme

      Maybe it was deemed that this was as likely to produce a chunk of, say, U-235 or Pu-239 as it was Au-197. (Maybe the chap even had it in what would have been a critical configuration ;).

  11. Isendel Steel


    the cause of the fire was arson - someone arson' around

    1. Trevor 7

      Spelling error in the judgement

      He obviously was arsen around.

  12. French Tickler

    You could say that the shit quite literally hit the fan (heater)............

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    His only mistake was where there is muck there's brass........ not gold.

  14. mark 63 Silver badge

    the umpteenth pun.....

    You cant polish a turd!

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Didn't Mythbusters prove you CAN polish a turd?

    2. Trygve Henriksen

      I assume that you don't watch Mythbusters...

      They pretty much debunked that one a while ago.

    3. sisk

      But the Mythbusters did it...

    4. Kevin Johnston

      Error - error

      On this one you are wrong. Mythbusters proved that it CAN be done using some mystical Japanese technique. Got a really high-grade shine on Lion-poo......

    5. ElNumbre
      IT Angle


      ....You can. The Mythbusters proved it. See "Dorodango"

      Unless of course you mean the peoples of the country of Poland.

    6. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward


      but goldie

    7. Eugene Goodrich
      Paris Hilton


      These guys did it:

    8. Stuart 18


      ... you can Irish one;-) Poles are way too smart/hardworking:-)

      1. Steven Roper

        Re: Mythbusters and polishing turds

        Mythbusters may have debunked the "can't" part of the old saying regarding polishing turds, but the original metaphor of the saying still stands. Because a turd, no matter how much it is polished, is still a turd...

    9. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Oh yes you can polish a turd!

      Mythbusters proved that you could. See, e.g.

  15. Richard Crossley

    I bet...

    ...that caused a stink!

  16. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "He will spend 12 months on licence upon his release"

    his movements will be closely monitored, presumably

  17. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    he should have used ...

    an alchemical toilet

  18. Leona A

    ya gota be shitting me!

    You really couldn't make this shit up!

    Shits really hit the fan (heater)!

    I'll get my coat!

  19. George Nacht

    let´s look at it

    the other way around: Wasn´t it this one Mr.Moran, who was first to conclusively prove that heating a feces on the electric heater will NOT turn them into gold?

    Isn´t it a basic principle of science, that someone has to go first and then say : "Dead end, colleagues. Let´s find another way!"

    1. Michael Nidd

      As someone else once said

      This research fills a much-needed gap in the literature.

  20. Michael H.F. Wilkinson Silver badge

    Shit happens

    so they say

  21. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Haven't scientist found a way to transform "fertilizer" into black gold (aka oil)?

  22. jon 72
    Thumb Up

    Love IT

    This country needs more potty professors!

  23. Antoine Dubuc

    Devil's advocate

    So he did try something like betting all his chips on the double zero at roulette. A low probability strategy. Scientifically speaking, he actually DID something though, or at least try.

    Bell was laughed out of many rooms at first... talking into a tin can over a wire eh mr bell?...

    Same for tesla in 1890 with his radio controlled torpedo with the Navy.

    Flying like a bird, eh?

    The list goes on...

    I'll wager with anyone here that this transmutation stuff is something science of tomorrow will explain, if its real.

    My point is that at least the lad wasn't only talking or reading, he actually applied the scientific method: he tried to prove an idea by doing shit, pun intended.

    I like people that DO things, even when they fail.

    Small minds rejoice in the failure of those that try things they do not understand, or challenges their dogmas.

    1. Just Thinking

      "I'll wager with anyone here that this transmutation stuff is something science of tomorrow will explain, if its real."

      The science of today explains it. It's called nuclear physics.

  24. Yag

    Harry King wannabe?

    he is doing it wrong!

  25. Richard Scratcher

    Turning faeces into gold would require a supernova.

    Turning human faeces into diamonds is much easier but quite expensive.

  26. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    He is a pioneer

    Sure you can mock him, but if he had succeeded who'd be laughing then?

  27. Andy Farley

    Call for

    Gerald Ratner, Gerald Ratner to the court please.

  28. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    Presumably he scoffed 18 carrots first.

  29. Stevie


    I discovered a process for turning base metal into gold years ago.

    I call it "counterfeiting".

  30. hightower00


    Stories like this are why I love the register...

  31. Aldous

    Wrong waste/element

    now if he wanted phosphorus that's doable from other bodily waste

    1. Pseu Donyme

      The discovery of phosporous is usually credited to the alchemist Hennig Brand trying to make gold from urine in around AD 1669 :).

  32. Maty

    What a Moran.

  33. Schultz

    Should have read the literature

    Making gold requires no magic, he simply should have followed the standard synthetic procedure:

    Mercury 198 + 6.8 MeV gamma ray ---few days---> Gold 197 + positron + neutron


  34. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    Gold is valuable because it is rare. If you could turn poo into gold (or rather, turn human stupidity into gold - it's far more common) then gold would be worth very little.

    And it IS possible to turn <just about anything> into gold - you just need a big enough particle accelerator. Of course, running it gets a bit pricy....

  35. Paul RND*1000

    Try again, this time after drinking vast quantities of Goldschläger.

    Putting those faeces anywhere near a heat source might not be such an awesome idea though. Flames icon because, well, duh.

  36. jubtastic1

    Oh, Edmund... can it be true?

    That I hold here, in my mortal hand, a nugget of purest Brown?

  37. horse of a different colour


    I know what I'll be doing tonight!

  38. NomNomNom

    the night before he had eaten 24 carrots

    his name was "moran"? you kidding me?

    "Judge McFarland told Moran: “It was an interesting experiment to fulfil the alchemist’s dream, but wasn’t going to succeed.”"

    Did a judge really describe heating up shit as an interesting experiment?

    It hasn't been done before! The cutting edges of science! Next week in the lab stroke house I attempt to turn my piss into sparkling spring water.

    Something about a gold ring

  39. NomNomNom

    every alchemist worth his salt knows that poo + fire = hot poo

    for gold he needed to also include 2 girls + 1 cup

  40. Andrew Norton

    Obviously he hasn't learnt the lesson of Sir Harry King

  41. Anonymous Coward

    Perhaps he'll get a female lawyer... I wonder what feces going to charge for her work...

  42. JassMan

    Every alchemist knows...

    ... his big mistake was not shitting a base metal for use as the feed stock. Still I bet he was shitting bricks when his house started to burn down.

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  45. Rune Moberg

    turd of gold

    Actually... The character Roger, in the TV show 'American Dad', once laid out a perfect 24K cable (without realizing it himself) studded with valuable gems.

    Kinda makes me curious who copied whom.

  46. Crazy Operations Guy

    What an idiot

    First Gold isn't actually worth that much, second it would have been easier to use it to make diamonds. With the proper equipment he really could have turned his waste into diamond.

    Or he could have tried electroplating, which is what alchemists used to do (or at least its a common theory of what they did)

  47. CmdrX3
    Paris Hilton

    It worked for Gerald Ratner, he sold crap for years, even said so himself.

    Three months... for being stupid, bummer!!

    Paris can turn shit into gold as well.

  48. FrankAlphaXII

    To quote George Carlin

    "The only difference between Turds and Diamonds are what differences people have agreed on, and I don't always agree"

  49. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Shit eh?

    What a turd.

  50. Slabfondler

    This is old hat...

    I saw it in a movie in the 1970's - Jodorowsky's Holy Mountain:

    Mine's the one with the shit^h^h^h^hgold in the pocket...what's that smell?

  51. John I'm only dancing

    Crap story

    Need I say more?

  52. hi_robb

    Alchemy - there's a CRAP for that..

  53. Glenn Charles

    I tried that...

    I turned into a Reg reader. It works!!!


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