Space toilet

Through the magic of the internet I was able to connect with @atomicplayboy this morning at the James S. McDonnell Planetarium in the St Louis Science centre, who very kindly took me on a personal tour of their space toilet! 🚀🚽 I’ve seen a lot of loos in my life but never had any clue until today of the sit down – strap in – suction up process involved in celestial waste.

And for any fellow science geeks out there, here’s the information on how the toilet actually works:

Passing body wastes in space is no different than on the ground. In Earth’s gravity, waste materials fall away from the body and the force of moving water flushes them away. Space toilets operate in a similar way, but gentle suction and moving air take the place of gravity and draw the waste materials away from the body and into the storage containers.

In microgravity everything floats. It is important to contain all waste materials. Astronauts are very careful to maintain a good seal with the toilet seat and urinal hose. The straps, bars and handles are to assist users and hold them in place.

On a space station, wastewater is processed for reuse. The air is filtered to remove odor and bacteria then returned to the station’s air supply. Solid waste is returned to the earth for disposal.

Fascinating stuff, thanks again Michael!

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DC metro map

A map of DC’s metro system on the walls at the local Hostelling International


18 karat gold toilet

Ladies and gentleman, let me present to you the Holy Grail of toilets! 🏆🚽

“America” by Maurizio Cattelan

Entitled ‘America’ (2016), it’s a fully functional & usable 18 karat gold throne by artist Maurizio Cattelan on display at New York’s Guggenheim museum. This incredible piece had been #1 on my toilet bucket list since I first hear about it around a year ago – finally on a weekend trip to the Big Apple I had my chance.

According to the blurb in the museum guidebook: “This work makes available to the public an extravagant luxury product seemingly intended for the 1 percent. Its participatory nature, in which viewers are invited to make use of the fixture individually and privately, allows for an experience of unprecedented intimacy with a work of art.”

It doesn’t get much better than this. If you happen to be in NYC it’s absolutely worth a visit! 😁


Café Achteck

This is a traditional public toilet in Berlin known as a Café Achteck. These octagonal iron structures have adorned the city streets since the 1870’s, with around 30 remaining today; this particular one is located at the Gendarmenmarkt. They were originally built for men only but a bunch of them have been converted in recent years to cater for ladies as well.

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Nuclear bunker

Here’s an interesting one: a bathroom inside a Berlin nuclear bunker built during the Cold War.

It can hold 3,600 people for around 2 weeks, which is around how long they thought it’d take for radioactive fallout to settle should there have been an attack on the city. There were 4 bathrooms built within the complex, each consisting of 14 urinals & 16 toilets. There were no toilet doors on the stalls – only curtains – to prevent anyone from locking themselves inside and potentially committing suicide. Neither are there any mirrors in the bathrooms – a further safety measure to prevent the use of glass shards as a weapon. If the city water supply or built-in filtration system was to fail, there was enough water storage for 2.5 litres per person per day.

Thankfully, the bunker has never been used for its intended purpose and it’s currently part of the fascinating Story Of Berlin museum tour. Let’s hope it stays that way.

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The urinal block at one of the four bathroom facilities in the bunker

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Only curtains for privacy in the stalls, for fear of anyone locking themselves behind a door

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No mirrors above the basins

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The cramped & presumably uncomfortable bunk beds built to hold 3,600 people


The Library of Congress

I was lucky enough to get onto the final tour of the day at the Capitol, then I strolled over to the Library of Congress via the tunnel to see if I was able to get in there. Tours had already finished for the day unfortunately but I at least figured the restrooms there would be nice. I wasn’t wrong.

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Bonus photo of the ceiling of the main hall:

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Smithsonian toilets

There were a couple of interesting & educational toilet-related exhibits waiting for me at the Smithsonian National Museum of American History

An historic house from the 1760’s that stood in Ipswich, Massachusetts, was taken apart in 1963 and reassembled in the museum, thanks to a group of concerned residents who didn’t want to see such a beautiful old structure go to waste. A three-part shed was added onto the house in the 1800’s, including this outhouse which remained in use until 1946:

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Elsewhere in the museum I spied some more American toilet history in the form of this elaborate ceramic bowl circa 1900:

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