An ANU professor at odds with an electric hand dryer made the front page on this day in 1977. The men's lavatory at the Asian Studies building had upgraded from paper towels to the latest technological advance - an electric hand dryer. But this advance was not welcome after the noise of the dryer began to drown out conversation in rooms of the building.
Professor Arthur Bashan, professor and head of the department of Asian civilisation, was frustrated to the point of protest and published a letter in the ANU Reporter outlining his issues with the dryer. The electric dryer took more time to dry hands than paper towels and made so much noise that people were "reduced to shouting at one another in a most undignified and academic way".
The letter said the machine took particularly long to dry larger hands, causing longer periods of noise, or those drying their hands would have to resort to wiping excess moisture on their clothes. The label on the dryer said its purpose was "to protect you from the hazards of disease which may be transmitted by towel litter". Professor Basham argued that the dryer would just blow germs off hands into the air where they would settle on people's clothes or be breathed in. He wrote with several others to the Dean of the Faculty requesting they revert back to the old method.
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