Full of Hot Air? (Fartiology 101)
Compliments of the Ottawa Sun. A Canadian paper has to go to an AMERICAN scientist for the straight poop on gas. Damn right! Toot it loud, toot it proud!
The funniest part about this story, to me anyway, is how the scientists collect, uh, the samples to study. Mylar pantaloons?? Oh mercy!
Hey, somebody's gotta do it, right?
More information here on gas than you ever thought you'd need in a lifetime. Enjoy!
Pass the Gas and Don't be Embarrassed
TORONTO -- So you think your husband's a little too adept at playing the colonic calliope? Wish your sleep wasn't interrupted by a fusillade of flatulence?
Well, if you think you've taken up residence in Beantown but he insists his output is normal, you can both take heart that debates like yours are raging all over.
You both should know this as well: Whether it takes the form of stealth bombers or noisy bottom burps, flatulence is a normal byproduct of the human body. Everybody farts, multiple times throughout the day and night.
But the whens and the hows can turn a basic bodily function into an inconvenient, unpleasant or downright embarrassing occurrence. And that leads some people to question what is normal and whether there is any way to turn down the tap, as it were, on the frequency, noise or odour quotients.
The fact of the matter is that while humankind has learned how to split the atom, manipulate genes and travel to the moon, it doesn't know all that much about how to reduce the production of natural gas.
"I know a lot about gas," says Dr. Michael Levitt, the American gastroenterologist who has unravelled much of what is known about human flatulence.
Levitt is a veritable gas guru, a leading expert on the underappreciated field of flatus -- intestinal gas that escapes via the southern route.
Levitt has gone to extraordinary lengths to explore the mysteries of flatulence. He has captured farts in specially made Mylar pantaloons, measured the cocktail of gases they contain, even conducted a study devised to get to the bottom of what might be the most contentious question in the field: Which gender emits the smelliest farts?
So what have he and others learned about the fine art of flatulating?
It's a pretty common occurrence. Studies in which volunteers tracked their gas passage suggest people fart 10 to 20 times a day, with some hitting the 30, 40, even 50 mark, says Levitt, who is with the VA Medical Center in Minneapolis, Minn.
An Australian study that followed a group of men and women for a couple of months concluded men let rip on average 10 times a day, while women lag with eight emissions.
But producing less gas might create another problem for women -- and the people around them. Levitt's research suggests women's flatulence is more ... aromatic.
The study was the first ever attempt to provide an objective evaluation of the odour of flatus, Levitt explains. Volunteer judges, blinded to the identity of the generating gender, were asked to rank the potency of the end product.
Volunteer producers -- primed by a diet of pinto beans -- farted into aluminum bags via a rectal tube. Syringes full of gas were withdrawn from the bags and wafted by the nostrils of the unfortunate judges.
Factoids about farting:
- Blue angels: Only certain people have bacteria in the gastric systems that produce methane, Dr. Levitt says. And only methane-producers can perform the time-honoured frat house trick of igniting a blue flame when they hold a match to an escaping fart.
- Musical toots: In the 1800s Frenchman Joseph Pujol apparently became so adept at controlling his flatulence flow he could sound musical notes. Called "le Petomane" -- the fartiste -- he was reputedly the highest paid performer in France at his prime.
- Colonic explosions: In the early days of colonoscopies, attempts to burn off polyps in the colon ignited explosive hydrogen gas in the colon of several unlucky people, sometimes with tragic results. The colon-cleansing preparations people now take the night before a colonoscopy have solved the problem. Says Levitt: "Until they used these prep solutions, there was a problem with explosions."