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Setting the Standard

16 September 2016

We often praise scientists for their dramatic breakthroughs, but we rarely shout out the everyday heroes, who make sure the little things in our day-to-day hold up and keep ticking over.

Everyday objects actually require a lot of science and rigorous testing before they eventually make it to us for use. Scientists and manufacturers work together to write a standard. Having a standard is what prevents your toilet from springing leaks or pipes cracking. Standards list all the different factors to be checked for general functionality and safety before a product reaches the public.

Stephen Smith a scientist with CSIRO explains the standard for toilets in Australia: “Look at the volume of water used, a flush that will wash away the waste, and safety.”

Once the standard’s created, it must undergo proper testing.
Yes, that’s right in order to test accurately the scientists must create fake poo! “In America, they make stools out of soybeans,” says Stephen. “We use a sausage skin, and we put a finger bandage over the top of that.”

For the testing to be accurate the ‘specimens’ must be a certain weight, in between floating and lying on the bottom. Achieving the correct consistency is not as easy as you’d think and toilets undergo many different flush tests to ensure they’re ready for their ultimate task.

So next time you visit the throne, take a moment to give thanks for the standards and the unique science behind what you’re sitting on.

Source: Double Helix Magazine

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