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Eureka: The space potty
by Jay Gutman
2016-11-30 08:41:02
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poop01I heard NASA is giving away 30,000 dollars to anyone who comes up with a solution to the space poop problem. Apparently, when travelling on a shuttle, astronauts have to use diapers and wait until landing before they can change. That doesn’t make for a comfortable journey in space, considering there’s nothing more uncomfortable than diapers when travelling on a shuttle. Not to mention hemorrhoid risks.

To the point. When making combinations for those who travel in space, the problem lies in the fact that astronauts are human beings and have basic human needs, including the need to urinate and defecate. Urine is liquid, while feces can either come in solid or liquid form.

One solution I’ve thought of lies in observing toddlers learn how to use the potty. If when making combinations to space the combination could include a plastic potty, with a vacuum and a closed exit to store the urine and feces, that would make things a lot simpler. That is around the belt line, have built in space, including a plastic, sink-like tube with a built in vacuum and cover to store the dirt. Then perhaps have tentacles with wipes to wipe off the dirt.

The main problem would be if the vacuum no longer functions and how to make sure that the urine and feces stay in the exit and don’t find ways to exit the exit and spill all over. The likelihood of that should be the same as the likelihood of your brakes no longer working for your car or your smart phone exploding, that is the product needs to be appraised and tested by outside professionals before being used.

Now someone could come up with the design and technology for that, keep the thirty grand and buy me a drink if this is where he or she got their idea from. I’m not designing, putting together or patenting the product because that would cost me more than 30 grand, so I’d rather write this paper and have a beer instead. Cheers and Eureka! I’m a columnist.  

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Emanuel Paparella2016-11-30 13:49:42
Aristotle in his Ethics finds nothing wrong in taking care of the needs of the body under the heading of health. Together with that he has family and career as two other physical components and needs of man, it is part of being human, but it takes some rationality to harmonize them so that they provide a holistic approach to physical life. After all, besides being a philosopher he was a biologist… But he also was aware that to reduce man to his mere physical needs scientifically observed is to miss the totality of what makes him human. For he also has needs of the mind and needs of the spirit or soul. These too need to be harmonized. To remain at the level of the physical is to miss that totality.

So, were Aristotle around today, he would of course approve of our scientists concern with making the journey to the moon of our astronauts more comfortable by proper disposal of their defecating needs (remember he was a biologist too), for he was aware that they were not angels, but he would also insist in going beyond the physical to the meta-physical. That is to say, he would go beyond asking how best to poop and dispose, and would also ask why do we poop, that is to say, why do we have a body and spirits or angels do not and therefore do not poop, we do because we have a material body with material needs; but we also have a need to explore and go to the moon and back; that is not a material need to be explored scientifically and positivistically, but it can be explored by the mind which is not equivalent to a material organ called brain. In other words we are not a machine and a doctor is not a mechanic of the body…

To go to the moon comfortably is of course important in itself but not as important as to ask the question why do I want to go the moon in the first place? Would it not be easier to go the moon mentally or spiritually, as a Dante did 800 years before our astronauts did physically? What is the difference between physical and metaphysical exploration? These are the questions that an Aristotle and a Davinci who were also first rate scientists asked going beyond the physical and material, and therefore they were far ahead of our "enlightened" scientists merely interested in proper poop disposal and making our lives comfortable. Our positivists of course could call them godflies or even crazy but that’s because they may intuit that they (the humanists) have the better insight on how to be human and remain such. To reduce man to a machine or a zombie is to miss his total reality.

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