The "Zero Gravity Toilet" instructions are alleged to be the only
intentional joke1 in Stanley Kubrick's
2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY.
The instructions are seen only momentarily during Dr.
Heywood Floyd's flight to the Clavius base on the Moon. Aboard the
Aries spacecraft, he's seen sleeping2,
enjoying a meal and schmoozing with the (presumed) commander of the craft.
And, during one brief shot, he anxiously reads these instructions.
According to Jerome Agel3, these
instructions4 were authored by
Frederick I. Ordway III, the "Scientific Consultant"5 for 2001. The text for these
Zero Gravity Toilet instructions are taken from Agel's book.
As you can see, they're not only remarkably detailed, but they actually
describe a plausible lavatory suited for "Zero G" flight. For all we know,
very similar instructions are posted somewhere on NASA's Space Shuttles,
which are descended from the same designs upon which 2001's
Pan Am space clipper was based.
D.B. Spalding, 28 Nov 96
I have further articles on 2001: a space odyssey, as well as videos for sale, on the following pages:
2001: an ambient legacy
2001 FAQ additions
1 Attributed to Arthur C. Clarke,
co-author of 2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY, and author of "The Sentinel,"
upon which the screenplay was based.
2 Again?! He just had a nap
aboard the Pan Am shuttle, Orion.
3 The Making of Kubrick's 2001,
edited by Jerome Agel; © Copyright 1970 by The Agel Publishing
4Ibid, p. 103.
5Ibid, p. 168.