Monday, May 3, 2010

Urinal Yearnings

Since Amber and I bought our house and began fixing it up a bit, I have been making a list of things that we would want if we were to ever build our own place. Some of these things are pretty typical for new homes, and some are a bit more eccentric. I like to think that Amber and I are somewhat creative people, so the idea of building a house can at times get me excited. I can’t tell you all of our ideas, since they are classified, but I will tell you one thing that I want in particular: a urinal. I know that most females reading this will think that is a stupid idea, but think of how easy it would be to clean. No problem.

I have always struggled with urinals for one reason though, and that is the shape of them. It seems that urinals are made in a parabolic shape. Sure it is pleasing to the eye, but what a poor design! If you can recall back to your geometry days, a parabola has some unique characteristics. There is a point on the axis of symmetry, called the focus, which plays a big part in everyday applications of a parabola.

For instance, if you have ever watched a football game on TV and seen the guys holding a big dish with a microphone in it, you have seen this in effect. When sound waves enter the dish (which is a parabola), all the waves are redirected back at the microphone (which is at the focus), making it possible to hear player conversation from the sidelines. The same is true for a flashlight. The bulb is placed at the focus, and all the light waves bounce off the shiny parabola to send the light out in parallel waves to make a more intense beam. Here is an illustration:

As you can see, parabolas are great in real-life applications. A satellite dish is another example. Now, think back to the urinal, and imagine that you are standing at the focus of the parabola. That’s right! All of the pee will splash straight back out onto you! (refer to the figure) I told you it was a poor design!

I have good news for you though, my friends. A couple days ago, Kelly McCown and I were at Chevy’s restaurant and the urinals there were more practically made. No splash. Just relief. This is the type of urinal I want in my future house.

Now, I cannot prove that toilet companies actually made urinals in an exact parabolic shape, but I can tell you that they should have done a little more porcelain engineering. Hey, maybe that’s what I’ll major in…


Jennifer said...


Drew said...

dude, we are doing quadratics/parabolas in class right now and I'm totally using this as an example. What works for a parabolic solar cooker does not a good urinal make.