Human Achievement of the Day: the Robo-Toilet

Since the very first man installed the very first toilet inside the home, women have been there to nag him to put down the toilet seat. A new invention created by the Danish toilet seat company Pressalit may soon change all of that:

The AutoClose loo keeps track on you using an infra-red beam – and will raise and lower the seat accordingly. The seat closes automatically after you’ve stepped out of range


While this new innovation is something to be applauded for the millions of men who are too lazy/don’t care to put down the toilet seat and their vexed female housemates too lazy/hurried to look before they sit, this is just a small improvement on one of mankind’s greatest achievements: the indoor Crapper.

The idiomatic expression used above might verge on vulgarity, but the term “Crapper” has historical significance. The flush toilet’s apparent champion, Thomas P. Crapper, should be lauded as an innovator (I should note that the term “crap” has a different suspected origin). Like Edison for widespread electricity usage, Thomas Crapper seems in part responsible for the thomas-crapperimplementation of indoor plumbing–an achievement that should not be overlooked. Where there was no plumbing or waste management human populations were, historically, ravaged by disease and death.

Before the Black Death struck down ~400 million in the 14th century (with additional waves sweeping Europe and elsewhere for hundreds of years), the bubonic plague decimated the emperor Justinian’s Byzantine empire in 541-542 AD.

While these diseases probably would have spread even if a city-wide system of waste management was implemented at the time, anecdotal evidence provides reason to believe that it would have been far less severe.

For instance, one of the few places with plumbing, Canterbury monastery, escaped unscathed during the darkest days of the plague in London.

So, when you find yourself in the bathroom on March 27th take a minute to stop and appreciate the human achievement that just might have saved civilization.