Fibonacci Flushers

Published by patrick honner on

While travelling in Europe, I became fascinated with the variety of toilet-flushing mechanisms I encountered.  The typical toilet had a low-flow / high-flow option (which I imagine saves a great deal of water in the long run) , and a lot of creativity emerged in the way this two-flush system was implemented.

While documenting the many ways to flush, I found this rectangular model oddly familiar and appealing.

And then it hit me:  this looks like the golden rectangle!

The golden ratio has long been used by artists and architects to create aesthetically pleasing work.  It is, after all, the divine proportion.  Could it be that these toilet-makers took their cues from the masters of art and math?  I had to find out.

I dropped my image into Geogebra and took some measurements.

The total length of the rectangle divided by its height is around 1.71.  So, it’s not quite the golden ratio, but it’s pretty close.  This flush-design is about 90% divine, I suppose.

Maybe their next design will be closer to the perfect proportion.

patrick honner

Math teacher in Brooklyn, New York


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