What he found, in the end, was almost as valuable, however. Apparently, the boiling process removed other chemicals, like H2O for starters, and left him with phosphorus. Phosphorus is a chemical we now use all over the place, from matchsticks to medicine to complex electronics, and it's all because of some nutjob locked up in a basement, boiling his own pee. In the end, the real treasure ... was the knowledge he left to all of humanity. He probably would have preferred some gold, but still.
For other weird stories about history and science colliding inappropriately, check out the Cracked De-Textbook.
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