Wednesday, June 07, 2006


Yesterday, listening to Naked Scientist during my commute, I learned that the average person produces from one to one-and-a-half litres of flatulence a day.(Note 1) Coincidentally, just as I was being informed of this disturbing fact, someone decided to silently release an undisclosed amount of their daily allowance into the atmosphere of the train. This was in the ladies' carriage, which caused an awkward moment as we all looked around for a man to blame and there wasn't one available. It then became an even more awkward moment for me, because as the only foreigner in the ladies' carriage, and with no man around, I was the next most obvious culprit.

Let me state for the record here that IT WAS NOT ME.(Note 2)

Note 1: The Naked Scientist scientists seem to be rather interested in flatulence, but a little confused about the amount of gas produced. They told me it was a litre and a half daily yesterday, but today they repeated the flatulence fact and it was a different amount, which I have now forgotten. And on yet another podcast it was four to five litres. I have been wondering how they managed to come up with such different 'facts,' and have come to the conclusion that they all measured their outputs individually and are reporting their own results, being convinced that they are 'average' in this respect.

If I am right about this, I have a question to ask the person who measured four to five litres: Were you on my train yesterday?

Note 2: Not this time, anyway.


Wiccachicky said...

LOL - I wonder if there is actually any truth to the story. It would be an interesting thing to find out.

Andy N. said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Andy N. said...

Sorry. I had to delete the prior comment, because (gasp!) I found two typing errors immediatly on posting it, which was not acceptable to me, to say nothing of you - a teacher of English
Why is flatulence so funny? I remember laughing about it as a child, taunting others with "he who denied it, applied it", even when I (on those rare occasions) was the source. Flatulence is always a "gas" if one isn't in the "stink" (middle) of it. Though I now wonder why is it that I can be working alone off in some remote otherwise uninhabited space, "cut a cheese" with a particular "bouquet", and within seconds, there arrives someone to wonder if I've soiled myself... ah, but it "passes". Still, it makes me wonder if there is there some sort of primal nerve for locating the source of these pooty pheromones?

As for science, well, I can affirm that women can rival the best (or worst) of what is often perceived as a male dominated field, after all, it was a male, Benjamin Franklin (of American Independence fame), who authored a book entitled "Fart Proudly". Something the more polite of the species would never consider, yet my nose knows - women my be more discrete, but hardly less bubbly (in the gastric sense) (and I wonder who the wag was who decided to put "gas" in "gastric"?).

I know my daily output is highly dependant on what I eat, but figure that the liter and some is a good estimate on average. When I put raisins on my breakfast cereal, I am guaranteed some gas, though the odor seems low (a matter of opinion, of course). Other high fiber foods seem to contribute also. Odor seems to be related to eating Chinese for me, though I am told that beer and pickled eggs produce the "creme de la crap" sort of "peel the wallpaper", "OMG! Gimmee air!" farts of which legend is made.

As I understand it, the intestinal fauna balance changes with age, with more little bacterial beasties which in the process of breaking down the comestibles passing by, produce minute amounts of gasses (mostly carbon dioxide and methane, with small amounts of sulphur products), and thus when one becomes an "old fart" like myself, they have obviously taken the fore. Should I live to be 70, my retirement in the future economy is guaranteed: fueling fleets of vehicles, heating homes, supplying power plants - one would be 'hard pressed' to get to the "bottom" of the list of possibilities.

Please pardon the puerile puns. Time to "cut loose" from here. Thanks for the opportunity to "vent".

Andy (who is off to put some raisins on his cereal)

Writer Mom said...

Andy's comment is as informative and hilarious as your post.

Someone should meter our house. A hubby, two kids, two dogs (which have GOT to be ten times the gas for a fraction of the size...intriguing) and a cat who farts in his sleep now and again. The dogs come running to investigate. I always imagine they are living vicariously through those smells, as the cat gets to roam and hunt while they're confined to the backyard.
(sniff) "Mouse?"
(sniff sniff) "No, chipmunk. Definitely."

As to etiquette, my kids observe opposite gender roles. My son tries to pretend nothing happened, and gets a little blushy when his sister bawks out, "JACK? Did you FART?? Jack?? Was that YOU who FARTED??" She's 2 1/2 and is fascinated by farts at this point. Most of her playskits with dolls involve some sort of passing gas conversation. Perhaps she'll grow up to be a flatulence scientist.
I can only hope.

Kevin B. said...


That's a new one... I've always heard that "he who smelt it, dealt it."