Why do public toilet seats have a break in the front?
This question is, by far, the most frequently asked question received by the museum. Toilet seats with a "break" in the front are called "open front" seats. The open front toilet seats afford the users more sanitary conditions and a greater sense of comfort than their residential closed-front cousins. The reason that the open front toilet seats are so widely used in the U.S. is due to section 409.2.2 of the Uniform Plumbing Code. The Uniform Plumbing Code is written and maintained by the International Association of Plumbing and Mechanical Officials. The code has been adapted into law, in whole or part, by most of the United States. See for yourself:
Who invented the toilet? Was it really a guy named Thomas Crapper?
If I had a nickel for every time I've been asked that, I'd have, oh, about seventy-five cents actually. The fact is, nobody knows exactly who invented the toilet, but the general consensus is that it was not Thomas Crapper. While toilets date back to ancient times, the modern toilet can be more accurately traced back to Sir John Harrington, who described a waste disposal system in the Metamorphosis of Ajax in the 16th century. Some accounts of Thomas Crapper's life indicate that he patented the flush toilet in 1861, but Adam Hart-Davis, author of Thunder, Flush and Thomas Crapper, discovered that, while Thomas Crapper filed for a total of six patents, the earliest being filed in 1881, not one of them was for a flush toilet. It's quite possible that we can thank Sir Thomas Crapper for giving us the word, "crap," but even that is questionable, as Merriam-Webster's Collegiate Dictionary indicates that the term dates back to 1846, a full sixteen years before Thomas Crapper established himself as a master plumber. I wonder if we have Sir John Harrigton to thank for the term, "john"?
Read more about the invention of the toilet in these four informative links:
Toiletology 101:History of the Flush Toilet
Ask Yahoo! Who invented the toilet?
Thomas Crapper - Fact and Fiction, by Adam Hart-Davis.
Does toilet water spin in a different direction south of the equator?
In short: sometimes. The direction of the water flow is determined by the direction of the water jets (AKA spigots), in the toilet, not on what side of the equator the toilet resides. The Coriolis effect, frequently attributed to the different direction of water flow in toilets on either side of the equator, does not have an effect on something as small as a toilet. Read the article on Discovery.com to get to the bottom of it.
The Skinny on....Discovery.com
Is there a physical Toilet Museum that I can come visit?
Yes and No. Yes, there is a physical Toilet Museum and no, you can't visit it. The "Real" Toilet Museum is a small water closet in my small apartment in New York City. Perhaps, one day, when I retire, I will move to the 'burbs and turn The "Real" Toilet Museum into a roadside attraction that people can visit seven days a week. Hey, I can dream, can't I?
What is your opinion on the toilet seat controversy? When the toilet is not in use, should the toilet seat be left up or down?
Not only do I think the toilet seat should be left DOWN, but the cover should be left down as well. After all, if you don't put the toilet cover down, what is it doing there to begin with?
What was the first television program that featured a toilet?
Believe it or not, TV's first toilet was seen on the pilot episode of Leave it to Beaver in 1957. The episode's title was Capatain Jack. In the episode, Wally and the Beave order a baby alligator through the mail and hide it in the toilet tank. Tight camera angles were used so that only the tank could be seen on the show. The "seat" portion of the toilet was never shown because people in the 1950s did not go to the bathroom.
What was the first movie that featured a toilet?
The word on the seat is that the toilet's big-screen debut was in Alfred Hitchcock's Psycho in 1960. The toilet had one line: "flusssssssshhhhhhhhhhhhh....." Janet Leigh's character, Marion Crane, can be seen flushing the toilet shortly before getting stabbed to death by "mother." Unfortunately for the toilet, it was greatly upstaged by the shower.
What is the origin of the nautical term "head," meaning "toilet"?
As early as 1485, the nautical term "Head" referred to the bow or front part of a ship. Typically, the ship's toilet was placed at the head of the ship so that splashing water could naturally clean the toilet area (for that salty-fresh smell!). The use of the term "head" to mean toilet dates back to at least 1708, when English privateer and Governor of the Bahamas, Woodes Rogers, used the word to refer to a ship's toilet in his book, A Cruising Voyage Around the World. Another early usage is in Tobias Smollett's novel of travel and adventure, Roderick Random, published in 1748.
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