Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Bill Gates buys 50 gallons of fake poop, fields twice as many Vista-related jokes

When a young Bill Gates sat in front of his school's ancient computer, mastering BASIC and programming simple algorithms for Tic-Tac-Toe, it's possible that he thought to himself, "Someday, I'll invent a better toilet." Possible, but unlikely.

Nevertheless, this is exactly where Gates' career trajectory has brought him. Having effectively invented, instituted and presided over the world of computers for generations, the former Microsoft CEO has turned his mind to the septic system.

Seattle is playing host to the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, as the world-renowned charity/think tank takes on the issue of better toilets. According to MyNorthWest.com, various experts from Singapore, China, the UK and Switzerland are gathering to put their designs to the test. This "Reinvent the Toilet Fair," as it's being billed, is looking to find the ultimate waterless, energy-efficient alternative that will change sanitation in developing and developed countries around the world.

Humorous as toilets inherently are, the estimated 2.6 billion people out there without access to toilets aren't laughing. Poor sanitation and bathroom conditions - or just utter lack of bathrooms to begin with - lead to and exacerbate sickness and epidemic in many regions.

"Good sanitation saves lives and it's really a key to good health globally," Carl Hensman, the program officer for Water Sanitation and Hygiene at the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, told the source. "Two-hundred years ago we had the invention of the flush toilet and we've really not done anything in the engineering of the toilet since then," he added, which is about as much of a call to arms as one would expect.

As for the fair, while a certain amount of cash is certainly being put into the catering and meals for world-traveling scientists and toilet dignitaries, a chunk also went into soya bean paste and rice that (hopefully) no one will be snacking on. These two components are notable for their shockingly fecal quality when combined, and about 50 gallons of it has been ordered by the Gates Foundation to test out these fancy new toilet designs.

With $3 million in grants doled out to the toilet engineering experts whose designs are being tested, it's probably an honor and a pleasure to watch their work finally be used - even if not by the real thing.