A closer look;Who's who;Discovery series;Water

6th August 1999 at 01:00
Thomas Crapper 1837-1910

Master Crapper's journey to domestic infamy began at the age of 11, when he walked the 165 miles from his home in Doncaster to London and became an apprentice plumber.

The big plumbing problem of the day was valve toilets. They were causing such consternation that the Metropolitan Water Act of 1870 made "water-waste preventers" a requirement of all new loos. Crapper's solution was to place a cistern high on the wall, with a wide pipe that released the water with "considerable velocity" when the chain was pulled.

But a question mark remains over whether he invented or popularised the syphonic toilet - which was originally patented in 1857, four years before he set up his own business.

Mr C (below) certainly lived up to his name - even though dictionaries place the origins of the slang term serveral hundred years earlier in 15th-century Holland - and it can still be found on manhole covers in some parts of southern England (there's one in Westminster Abbey). He also installed the plumbing at Queen Victoria's residence at Sandringham - ensuring a right royal flush.

Dr Louis Perrier

The Perrier spring at Vergeze, southern France, nicknamed Les Bouillens - "bubbling waters" - has been known for its natural effervescence since Roman times.

But it had fallen into disrepair when Louis Perrier, a doctor from nearby Nimes, bought the leaseDr Perrier himself remains so obscure that no picture of him is known and even the company that bears his name does not know when he was born. in 1894. Dr Perrier was fascinated by the therapeutic properties of the waters but did little to market it, and it took an English aristocrat to make them world famous.

In 1903, Sir John Harmsworth, brother of newspaper magnates Lords Northcliffe and Rothermere, was paralysed from the waist down after a road accident in France. While convalescing, he became a patient of Dr Perrier, who immediately recommended the waters to him.

Sir John was so impressed that he bought the rights to the waters from Dr Perrier and named it after him. The idea for its distinctively-shaped bottles came from the Indian clubs Dr Perrier told him to use to build up his upper body strength.

Dr Perrier himself remains so obscure that no picture of him is known and even the company that bears his name does not know when he was born or when he died.

Archimedes 287-212 BC Bathtimes - and physics - were never the same after Archimedes' "eureka" moment in the tub. When he jumped up and shouted "I've found it!" it wasn't the soap he had discovered but the principle that "an object immersed in water loses weight equal to the weight of the amount of water it displaces".

The King of Eygpt suspected his golden crown might not really be gold after all and asked Archimedes to come up with a way of testing whether or not it was. Archimedes realised, when his bath overflowed, that if he filled a bowl of water to the brim and immersed a piece of gold equal in weight to the crown and then substituted the crown itself, any difference in the water level would prove the King's suspicions.

Archimedes was born in Sicily and educated in Egypt by Euclid, one of the fathers of geometry. Although he is best-known for the comical circumstances of his great discovery, he was responsible for many other great inventions.

He devised a means of calculating p which was still being used 2,000 years after his death (at the hands of Roman soldiers during the sacking of Syracuse), the Archimedes screw - a simple but effective water pump - and developed the theories of integral calculus that have confounded A-level maths students since.

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