Physicists Make a Splash With a Urinal That Doesn’t

Some things in life don't require any reinvention — like the wheel — but according to a team of physicists from Canada's University of Waterloo, the adage "if it ain't broke, don't fix it," doesn't apply to men's bathroom facilities. At the American Physical Society's Division of Fluid Dynamics meeting in Indianapolis in fall 2022, the team made a splash with a design for a urinal that.......well........doesn't. The splash-free urinal's shape is inspired by the geometry of a nautilus shell, and prevents droplets from leaving the bowl. While it may seem simple, there is, in fact, quite a bit of physics involved in urinal design. The slope and angle of the porcelain, plus the height of the person using it and the force of the stream all dictate whether splashing happens. When the University of Waterloo team used dyed water and a mock ureter to simulate the use of a standard urinal, they saw significant splashing. Those drops would have ended up all over people's legs and feet and the bathroom floor. Scientists found that a tall, slender urinal shaped with curves that replicate a nautilus shell create a splash-free experience. Dubbed the Nauti-loo, they claim it can virtually eliminate splashback, while others produce up to 50 times more. The nautilus shell has been an emblem of math and science since the days of the ancient Greeks, who considered its symmetrical shell a symbol of perfection. Now, it may also become known as the inspiration for, and namesake of, a better place to pee.