The Cubic Scoop on Wombat Poop! Poop to the power of 3? Rubik's Poop? Poop cubed?! We're talking wombats and the unusually shaped blocks of scat they leave behind! But HOW? And WHY? Join Mindy and Guy Raz as they travel to an Australian "Pooseum" to explore this stinky, squared, scientific mystery! It's the Who, What, When, Where, Why, How, and Wow in the World of Wombat poop!
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The Cubic Scoop on Wombat Poop!

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The Cubic Scoop on Wombat Poop!

The Cubic Scoop on Wombat Poop!

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UNIDENTIFIED PERSON #1: Stay seated. Three, two, one, ignition.

UNIDENTIFIED PERSON #2: Get ready for an adventure of magnificent proportion.

THE POP UPS: (Singing) I don't know what you've been told, but we're in a golden age - so many discoveries that are jumping off the page. Wow in the world. Wow in the world. Wow in the world. Wow in the world. Wow in the world. Wow in the world. Wow in the world. Wow in the world. Wow in the world.

UNIDENTIFIED PERSON #3: With Guy and Mindy.

UNIDENTIFIED PERSON #1: We're on our way, Houston.

UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR #1: (As mailman) Knock, knock, knock. Special delivery.


Oh, the mail's here.

UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR #1: (As mailman) Yello (ph).

RAZ: I'll take that. Thank you very much.

UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR #1: (As mailman) Oh (laughter), it seems to be stuck to my fingers. And it is really stuck. What is this, maple syrup? It is maple syrup. Who would put this in the mail?

RAZ: I recognize those sticky fingerprints anywhere. Mindy.


Guy Raz-ie (ph). Hey, did you get my invitation?

RAZ: Invitation? What? Here, let me try and pry that thing out of your hands.

UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR #1: (As mailman) It's everywhere.

RAZ: OK. On the count of three. One, two...

UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR #1: (As mailman) One, two - ouch.

RAZ: Got it.

UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR #1: (As mailman) Carry the mail, they said. It'll be fun, they said. No, you'll never be covered in maple syrup.

RAZ: Whew. OK. Now, to get this thing open. OK, let's see what this invitation says here. Your presence is requested in Mindy's gingerbread bathroom. The crumbling house next door. Now o'clock. Chocolate milk and horse doves will be served. Horse doves? Does - does she mean hors d'oeuvres? P.S. Mindy has something bonker-balls to show you.

THOMAS: Hey, Guy Raz. Did you read my invitation? Now o'clock started, like, five minutes ago.

RAZ: I'm coming. I'm coming.

UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR #2: (As Dennis Neighbor) Hi, Mindy. Hi, Guy.

RAZ: Oh. Hi, Dennis.

UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR #2: (As Dennis Neighbor) Did I hear someone say invitation? Should I go check my mailbox?

THOMAS: Sorry, Dennis. Didn't know your address.

UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR #2: (As Dennis Neighbor) Oh, that's OK. My address is Dennis Neighbor, The House Next Door, Busybody Avenue, Made-Up...


RAZ: Mindy?

THOMAS: Read the sign.

RAZ: What? Let's see here. No dumping allowed.

THOMAS: No, the other one.

RAZ: Oh, right. Let's see here. The sign says, rage against the latrine. Potty this way. Potty?

THOMAS: It's a wordplay on the word party.

RAZ: Oh, right. I get it. OK. This must be the place.

THOMAS: Guy Raz, you came. Come right in. Make yourself at home.

RAZ: Mindy, how many toilets are in this bathroom? Wait. Are those my clogs, the shoes I brought back from my trip to Amsterdam? What are they doing in your toilet?


THOMAS: Clogging it up.

RAZ: And is that a tree growing out of that one?

THOMAS: My toilet tree. In the spring, it's supposed to bear tiny toothbrushes.

RAZ: Uh (ph)...

THOMAS: Can I interest you in any horse doves?

RAZ: Don't you mean hors d'oeuvres?

THOMAS: No, I mean horse doves. See? I genetically engineered them by combining the DNA of a horse with the DNA of a dove. Aren't they cute?

RAZ: Tiny, white, flying horses? Mindy, what did you invite me over here for?

THOMAS: Well, Guy Raz, I brought you here because we need to talk.

RAZ: OK. So why didn't you just call me on the phone or stop by? You know, I do live right next door. I mean, we could have done this literally anywhere but your bathroom.

THOMAS: Well, that's the thing, Guy Raz. See, the bathroom is really the only place we can have this particular talk.

RAZ: Mindy, where are you going with this?

THOMAS: Well, you know how you're always saying that toilet talk belongs in the bathroom?

RAZ: Yeah. I do say that to you, multiple times a day.

THOMAS: Well, this is one of those times.

RAZ: I'm not sure I follow.

THOMAS: Guy Raz, we need to talk about these.

RAZ: Ooo (ph). Dark chocolate truffles. Don't mind if I do.

THOMAS: No, Guy Raz. Stop.

RAZ: (Singing) Ain't no stopping me now.

THOMAS: Guy Raz, that's wombat poop.

RAZ: Wombat poop?

THOMAS: Wombat poop. That's why I invited you here to my bathroom. We need to talk about it. And this is the only place where that would be appropriate.

RAZ: Mindy, I don't know where you got this wombat poop from, but I think it's safe to say you've been swindled.


RAZ: This poop is cubed, like tiny brown blocks.

THOMAS: OK. Well, No. 1, I got this wombat poop off the interwebs (ph) by zoodling (ph) poop cubes.

RAZ: You what?

THOMAS: And for only $1, plus $322, plus taxes, plus shipping and handling, this little bag of wombat poops is all mine.

RAZ: Wait.

THOMAS: Certified, authentic and imported from Australia.

RAZ: Wait a minute, Mindy. You spent $323 on poop?

THOMAS: No, you did.

RAZ: Mindy.

THOMAS: And No. 2, this number-two is supposed to be cubed. It's wombat poop.

RAZ: OK. Now, I've been to Australia, and I've seen these furry, little, short-legged, waddling marsupials with my own four eyes, but I've never seen any cubes left behind.

THOMAS: Well, neither did Patricia Yang from the Georgia Institute of Technology.

RAZ: Oh, I've heard of her. Isn't she that mechanical engineer who studies hydrodynamics, or the motion and action of fluids?

THOMAS: Yeah. And not only that, but she specializes in bodily fluids of animals, like blood, food traveling through the intestines, pee, probably barf.

RAZ: Yeah, yeah, yeah. I got it.

THOMAS: Anywho, when she first learned that wombats do poop cubic bricks, she did what any other good scientist would do, and she asked the question...

RAZ: Oh. Why?

THOMAS: No, actually she asked if she could build a little poop igloo out of them.

RAZ: Ew.

THOMAS: But then she asked the question, why?

RAZ: Why?

THOMAS: Why? Patricia Yang had stumbled upon a scientific mystery.

RAZ: My favorite kind of mystery. So what happened next? Oh, wait. Wait. Let me get my popcorn.


RAZ: It's so good. OK, now I'm ready. What happened next?

THOMAS: Well, I could tell you, Guy Raz.

RAZ: Yeah?

THOMAS: But I'd rather show you.

RAZ: Uh.

THOMAS: Reggie.


RAZ: Mindy. Mindy, are you sure it's a good idea to keep him in your house?

THOMAS: Yes, of course I'm not sure it's a good idea to keep him in my house, Guy Raz. But he pays off the mortgage, and he's the only one who knows how to clean out my licorice gutters.

RAZ: Oh.

THOMAS: But you're right. From now on, we'll keep him in your house.


THOMAS: Come on, Reg. We've got a long fly ahead of us. Let's go there, Raz. Hop on.

RAZ: Where are we going, Mindy?

THOMAS: I'll give you a few hints. It's the smallest continent in the world.

RAZ: Australia.

THOMAS: It's surrounded by the Indian and Pacific Oceans.

RAZ: Australia.

THOMAS: It's famous for its beaches, kangaroos and the Sydney Opera House.

RAZ: Mindy, you're talking about Australia.


THOMAS: Oh, I'm sorry, Guy Raz. The correct answer is Australia.

RAZ: That's what I just said.


THOMAS: Reg, put another shrimp on the Barbie doll, and get ready for takeoff because here we go.


THOMAS: Thanks for the ride, Reg.


RAZ: Whoa, looks like Reggie's met his match.

THOMAS: What in the wow is up with that crazy-looking ostrich?

RAZ: That's not an ostrich, Mindy. That's an emu, only the second-largest living bird by height.

THOMAS: I'll say. That thing's taller than you, Guy Raz.


THOMAS: Sounds like she's asking Reggie for a ride.

RAZ: Wait. You speak emu?

THOMAS: She's saying that her wings are only there for decoration, and now she's bragging about how she can run, like, 30 miles an hour.

RAZ: And she's hopping on Reggie's back, a bird riding another bird. What is happening?

THOMAS: I don't - have fun, Reg. Don't forget to pick us up later.

RAZ: OK. So what in the world are we doing in Australia again?

THOMAS: Oh. Remember? We're here to explore a cubic poop mystery. Why do wombats poop in cubes?

RAZ: Oh, right. So where do we begin?

THOMAS: Look behind you, Guy Raz.

RAZ: Welcome to the poo-seum (ph). The poo-seum?

THOMAS: Yeah, like museum, only it's full of poops? Anywho, inside this museum is an immersive, interactive exhibit on wombat poop. Come on.

RAZ: Wait.

THOMAS: Run. Run. Run. Run. Run. Run.

UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR #3: (As character) Hello there, and welcome to the poo-seum, featuring our immersive, interactive exhibit on the magic and mystery of wombat bowel movements.

THOMAS: Two tickets, please.

UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR #3: (As character) Perfect.

THOMAS: Thank you very much.

UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR #3: (As character) Now, please proceed to the bag check.

THOMAS: Okey-doke (ph).

UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR #4: (As character) Excuse me, ma'am. Please open your toolbox.

THOMAS: Are you sure you want me to do that?

RAZ: Mindy, let him inspect the adventure toolkit, so we can enter the poo-seum.

THOMAS: You asked for it. OK, everybody, stand back.


UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR #4: (As character) What in the - are these cats?

THOMAS: Thank you. Enjoy your day at the poo-seum.

UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR #4: (As character) Hey, I'm supposed to say that to you.

RAZ: So looking at the map here, it looks like our first stop is the wombat exhibit. Oh, that must be it over there.

THOMAS: How can you tell?

RAZ: Well, because it's a wombat structure the size of a carwash. Looks like the entrance is the wombat's open mouth.

THOMAS: This is so wow, a giant building shaped like a wombat with a wide-open mouth.

RAZ: Whoa.

THOMAS: It says here on the map that we're supposed to cover ourselves in grass and then enter through the mouth as wombat food? What is this?

RAZ: Cover ourselves in grass?

THOMAS: Hey, anything for science, right?

RAZ: Anything for science.

THOMAS: OK. Stay still while I dump this barrel of grass all over us, transforming us into delicious, grassy wombat food.

RAZ: It's itchy.

THOMAS: Just see here. Next up, we enter the immersive exhibit through the mouth.

RAZ: Is it supposed to be this dark, Mindy? What happens next?

UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR #5: (As announcer) Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to our immersive and interactive exhibit on the magic and mystery of wombat poop. For the next 2 1/2 weeks, you will experience what it's like to travel through a wombat's digestive system, beginning as a simple meal of grasses and ending up as a one-of-a-kind, cubic poop.

RAZ: We're going to be converted into poop?

THOMAS: Anything for science. That means anything.

UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR #5: (As announcer) Ladies and gentlemen, please follow me and step aboard the bowel mover and begin our 2 1/2-week journey throughout the wombat's digestive tract.

RAZ: Two-and-a-half weeks? We only bought one-day tickets to the Pooseum.

THOMAS: Guy Raz, 2 1/2 weeks is the length of time it takes for a wombat's food to travel through the intestines and convert to poop. So have a seat.

RAZ: You'd think they'd speed it up for the exhibit's sake.

THOMAS: Just be patient, Guy Raz. The end is where all the magic happens. In the meantime, while we're on this bowel mover, we've got plenty of time to talk about this poop cube mystery I was telling you about.

RAZ: Right. The mystery of the cubic poop.

THOMAS: Yeah. So Georgia Tech's Patricia Yang and her fellow research buddies set out to discover why and how wombats poop in cubes.

RAZ: And how did she exactly begin this exploration?

THOMAS: By collecting wombat intestines.

RAZ: And by intestines, you mean those long tubes found in the bodies of humans and animals that help us break down food and turn it into energy.

THOMAS: You know it, Guy Raz.

RAZ: But what do you mean when you say collected wombat intestines? I mean, did the wombats just give up their intestinal tracts voluntarily, or...

THOMAS: No, no, no, no, no. I should clarify that these particular intestinal tracts came from wombats who were no longer living. May they rest in peace. So the next thing they did was pretty wow.

RAZ: Yeah? What's that?

THOMAS: Well, in the spirit of anything for science, Patricia Yang and her fellow research buddies pumped up these intestines, blowing them up like giant, freakish balloons.

RAZ: Ugh. Are you making this up, Mindy?

THOMAS: Not this time, Guy Raz. They did this to compare the stretchiness of the wombat intestines to the stretchiness of pig intestines.

RAZ: And what was the difference?

THOMAS: Well, the difference was that while the pig intestines had sort of an even stretchiness throughout, the wombat intestines' stretchiness was super uneven, especially in two separate, distinct places.

RAZ: Meaning that when the food went through the digestion process and turned into poop, that uneven stretchiness created uneven pressure, which was then put on the poop before it...


RAZ: Before it...

THOMAS: I believe the word you're looking for is popped out the wombat's butt.

RAZ: Yeah, that.

THOMAS: And it looks like we're almost there.

RAZ: Has it been 2 1/2 weeks already?

THOMAS: Well, judging by the time on this watch I'm not wearing right now, I'd say time flies when you're having fun, Guy Raz.

RAZ: Wee.

THOMAS: Now, we're nearing the end of our journey, and this is where all the magic happens.

RAZ: Are we going to be turned into magic poops?

THOMAS: Hold on tight, Guy Raz. We're about to reach the first uneven, stretchy groove in the intestine. Whoa. Whoa.

RAZ: Whoa. What is happening, Mindy?

THOMAS: We're in the final step of the ingestion process. We're firming up, and the intestine is squeezing us into cubes.

RAZ: Poop cubes?

THOMAS: Now close your eyes, Guy Raz. We're about to pop out the...

RAZ: The butt.

THOMAS: Wee. (Laughter).


THOMAS: (Laughter). We did it. We did it, Guy Raz.

RAZ: Mindy, you look like a cubic poop emoji with googly eyes.

THOMAS: And you look like a cubic poop emoji with googly eyes and glasses.

RAZ: So now what do we do? Wait. Are we in a gift shop?

THOMAS: Ooh. Souvenirs.

RAZ: Hey. Stop taking our picture. Poop is a private matter.

THOMAS: Too bad your pictures won't be scratch-and-sniff. Am I right?

RAZ: Ugh.

THOMAS: OK. Guy Raz, here's what we're going to do. We're going to take a deep, cleansing breath. Then we're going to stretch and shimmy until we bust loose from these compact poop cubes. OK?

RAZ: Take a deep breath.

THOMAS: Stretch it out. Stretch it out. Give me a shimmy. There we go. Good as new. Look, this gift shop has those little personalized license plates in key chains. Let's see if we can find one that says Guy Raz.

RAZ: Key chains? Mindy, I think we need to take some time to digest what we just experienced in there.


RAZ: Well, now that we know how cubic poop is formed, the question we're left with is, why?

THOMAS: So as you may recall, that was the first question that led Patricia Yang on her journey to solve this mystery.

RAZ: So did she discover the answer?

THOMAS: Here's the thing, Guy Raz. Wombats, which are nocturnal animals...

RAZ: ...Meaning that they sleep all day and poop all night

THOMAS: Yeah, basically. So every night they poop out 80 to 100 little one-inch poops.

RAZ: One cubic inch?

THOMAS: Well, almost that big. And they use these poops to communicate and to mark their territory, so that potential mates know where to find them.

RAZ: Mark their territory? Do they use them as bricks to build tiny wombat poop huts?

THOMAS: I wish, but no.

RAZ: But wombats are known for having pretty bad eyesight. So how will other wombats even know where to find them once they've marked their territory?

THOMAS: Well, what they lack in vision, they make up for with their supersonic sense of smell.

RAZ: Oh, yes, I've heard about this.

THOMAS: Guy Raz, have you ever dreamed of smelling wombat poop the way that a wombat smells its poop?

RAZ: Uh, no.

THOMAS: Well, then today is your lucky day. Presenting - oh, hang on a second. I got to get it out of my adventure toolkit first. I know I put it in here somewhere.


THOMAS: Dog toy? I don't even have a dog.


THOMAS: Oh, here it is. Here it is. OK. Guy Raz, presenting the handy-dandy (ph) 5D-sensory-hat-D (ph). My friend Mina (ph) made it for us.

RAZ: Whoa.

THOMAS: Here, stay still, and I'll put it on your head.

RAZ: Oh.

THOMAS: Oh. Stay still. I've got to fasten the chin strap. There we go.

RAZ: What is all this stuff hanging off of it?

THOMAS: Guy Raz, those are the sensors.

RAZ: Oh.

THOMAS: See, Mina is a world-renowned inventor-ito (ph) from Southern California, and she invented this hat helmet as a way for us to experience the five senses the way that animals do.

RAZ: Like, the way that wombats smell with supersonic sniff power.

THOMAS: You know it. OK. Now, let me just attach this doo-hickey (ph) to your nose hair.

RAZ: Oh.

THOMAS: And adjust the settings on the dial here on top. There, that should do it. OK. Deep breath through your nose. Pretty wow, huh?

RAZ: (Coughs) Oh, Mindy, get this helmet off of me.

THOMAS: Oh, stay still. So that's how wombats do it. They take their poop cubes, mark their territory, and then wait for other potential wombat mates to smell their stinky surroundings, and then they fall in love - or something like that.

RAZ: So wombat poop plays a valuable role in a wombat's life. And if you think about it, it might be safe to say that their poop is essential to the survival of wombats as a species.

THOMAS: Exact-orito (ph). And as a major bonus, the unusual cubed shape of the poop helps to keep it from rolling down a hill or in the wind.

RAZ: Genius. So why don't we make all poop like this?

THOMAS: I know, right? If I had a nickel for every time your cat Alice's poop would just roll away underneath your refrigerator when I was cat-sitting for her.

RAZ: What?

THOMAS: Before we leave, Guy Raz, I want you to look to the left of this gift shop, right through that big window over there.

RAZ: Looks like a bunch of scientists and engineers and manufacturers are working on something.

THOMAS: Yeah. So once scientist Patricia Yang got to the bottom of this mystery, the scientific community went bonker-balls thinking of all the things they could do if only they could find a way to make fake wombat intestines.

RAZ: Oh.

THOMAS: It's something called biomimicry, or using nature as a model for human inventions.

RAZ: Wow. Like, using it in manufacturing to make cubes.

THOMAS: I mean, just imagine all of the biomimicry possibilities, Guy Raz. Cubic wombat poops as a model for bricks and blocks and board game dice and - oh - chocolate.

RAZ: OK. Time to put the poop talk back in the bathroom.


RAZ: You know what, why don't we try to find one of those little keychains with our names on it?

THOMAS: Or a souvenir pair of poop dice to hang from the rearview mirror of Reggie.


RAZ: Reggie has a...


RAZ: Oh, Reggie. Right in the middle of the gift shop?

THOMAS: Now, if only nature could find a way to pack bird poop into neat little cubes.

RAZ: We're going to need a cleanup on Aisle 7.


UNIDENTIFIED CHILD #1: WOW IN THE WORLD will be right back. Grown-ups, this message is for you.


UNIDENTIFIED CHILD #1: That's it. Back to the show.


THE POP UPS: (Singing) Wow in the world.


THOMAS: Hi. Thanks for calling WOW IN THE WORLD. After the beep, get ready to record.


NOAM: Hi, Mindy. Hi, Guy Raz. My name is Noam (ph), and I live in Kefar Sava, Israel. My wow in the world is that Mindy gets around by a pigeon.


WYATT: Hi, my name is Wyatt (ph), and I live in Austin, Texas. And my wow in the world is that dinosaurs' brains are as small as a walnut.


ROWAN: Hi, my name is Rowan (ph). I live in Candor, N.Y. And my wow in the world is that the fourth state of matter, plasma, can be found in lightbulbs when you turn them on and in lightning bugs. Say hi to Reggie for me.


ROWAN: And maybe even Dennis, who is annoying.

JED ANDERSON, BYLINE: (As Dennis) Reggie. Reggie.


ANDERSON: (As Dennis) I heard my name.


ANDERSON: (As Dennis) Well, what did he say?


ANDERSON: (As Dennis) I am so famous.


OLIVER: Hi, Mindy and Guy Raz. My name is Oliver (ph), and my wow in the world is that frogs don't drink water. They absorb it through their skin. Bye, Mindy and Guy Raz.


MILLIE: Hi, my name is Millie (ph), and I live in Los Angeles, Calif. My wow in the world is that a one-day-old reindeer can outrun most humans.


LIAM: Hi, my name is Liam (ph), and I live in Phoenix, Ariz. And my wow in the world is that starfish can change their gender. Bye, Mindy and Guy Raz. Say hi to Reggie.


WYNN: Hi, Mindy and Guy Raz. My name is Wynn (ph), and I come from Petaluma, Calif. And my wow in the world is that the International Space Station is three blue whales long. Bye.


AUDREY: Hi, Mindy and Guy Raz. My name is Audrey (ph), and I am from Boca Raton, Fla. My wow in the world is that the universe is 13.8 billion years old. I love your podcast. Say hi to Reggie for me.


AUDREY: Goodbye.


MARIN: Hi, Mindy and Guy Raz. My name is Marin (ph), and I live in Brisbane, Australia. My wow in the world is that octopi decorate their home with rocks and shells, but they don't do it for any fighting mechanism. They just do it for it to look pretty. I think it's really cute. Bye.


NATHAN: Hi, my name is Nathan (ph). I live in Candor, N.Y. And my wow in the world is that platypuses have a sixth sense, and they can see stuff with their eyes closed and without smelling with their nose. I love you, WOW IN THE WORLD.


PRE-RECORDED VOICE: End of messages.

THOMAS: Hey, everyone. Thank you so much for hanging out with us this week on WOW IN THE WORLD.

RAZ: And to keep the wow rolling, check out this week's scientific conversation starters at our website,

THOMAS: And grown-ups, there you can find more info on how your kids can become members of the World Organization of Wowzers, shop our Wow Shop, upload photos and videos to us and check dates for our upcoming live events. That's

RAZ: Our show is produced by Jed Anderson...

THOMAS: ...Who provides the bells, whistles and silly characters. Say hello, Jed.

ANDERSON: Yello (ph).

THOMAS: Our show is written by me, Guy Raz and Thomas van Kalken, who also provides silly characters. Tom?


RAZ: Thanks also to Jessica Boddy, Casey Koeffer (ph), Rebecca Caban (ph), Kit Ballenger (ph) and Alex Curley. Meredith Halpern-Ranzer powers the wow at Tinkercast.

THOMAS: Our theme song was composed and performed by The Pop Ups. For more info on their two-time Grammy-nominated, all-ages music, find them at

RAZ: And grown-ups, you can follow WOW IN THE WORLD on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter at @wowintheworld. And our email address is

THOMAS: And if you're a kid with a big wow to share with us, call us at 1-888-7-WOW-WOW for a chance to be featured at the end of the show.

RAZ: Also, if you haven't already done so, please subscribe to WOW IN THE WORLD on Apple Podcasts or wherever you get your podcasts.

THOMAS: Yeah. Leave us a few stars, a review or just tell a friend about the show.

RAZ: Thanks again for listening. And until next time...




THE POP UPS: (Singing) Wow in the world, wow in the world, wow in the world, wow in the world, wow in the world.

UNIDENTIFIED CHILD #2: WOW IN THE WORLD was made by Tinkercast and sent to you by NPR.


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