BILL GATES VS. POOP
What’s the world’s greatest invention? We know the usual suspects: the wheel, the computer, sliced bread. But it’s obvious that the world’s greatest invention is actually the toilet.
Yes, the wheel allows us to travel great distances, and the computer allows us to communicate with each other from the other side of the world. But think about what the toilet does. The toilet takes our poo and moves it…away. It sends it some place where we don’t have to think about it ever again. Amazing.
Of course, as this article
points out, things aren’t really that simple. The toilet has not changed much since it was invented over two hundred years ago: it still depends on the liberal application of water, and in these days, when the world’s fresh water is quickly being used up, we need a more comprehensive conservation plan than “if it’s yellow, it’s mellow/ if it’s brown, flush it down.”
Enter Bill Gates, who has thrown a tiny portion of his ridonculous wealth at the problem by funding a contest to reinvent the toilet. His motivation is pretty noble, we admit. He wants to cut down on diseases caused by poor sanitation in developing countries, which kills a distressingly large number of people every year—many of them children.
In theory, we applaud this effort. But, having once had to use a composting toilet during a high school trip to a clean energy farm, we know that we will never be comfortable with anything other than the traditional porcelain convenience. (And before you accuse us of being too spoiled and “First World” about it: we know what it’s like to lack adequate bathroom facilities. Have you ever worked in a Soho loft office? There’s one bathroom for about thirty people, and it’s right next to the desks. There’s no way we’re going to do our business there. We’ve had a hell of a time figuring out which local restaurant restroom we can sneak into without having to actually buy something. No, it’s not “possible death by exposure to raw sanitation,” but it’s damn inconvenient.)
But can we just take a minute to consider the power of the truly super rich? Think about it. Bill Gates says “I want you to reinvent the way people shit!” and hundreds of scientists hop to it. That’s juice.