Farts go across cultures and social strata, here are some things you may not be aware of.
1. Farts may carry germs, but don’t worry unless you’re naked!
A brief entry in the British Medical Journal‘s 2001 holiday issue tells of how Dr. Karl Kruszelnicki “established whether human flatus was germ-laden, or merely malodorous”:
I contacted Luke Tennent, a microbiologist in Canberra, and together we devised an experiment. He asked a colleague to break wind directly onto two Petri dishes from a distance of 5 centimetres, first fully clothed, then with his trousers down. Then he observed what happened. Overnight, the second Petri dish sprouted visible lumps of two types of bacteria that are usually found only in the gut and on the skin. But the flatus which had passed through clothing caused no bacteria to sprout, which suggests that clothing acts as a filter.
Our deduction is that the enteric zone in the second Petri dish was caused by the flatus itself, and the splatter ring around that was caused by the sheer velocity of the fart, which blew skin bacteria from the cheeks and blasted it onto the dish. It seems, therefore, that flatus can cause infection if the emitter is naked, but not if he or she is clothed. But the results of the experiment should not be considered alarming, because neither type of bacterium is harmful. In fact, they’re similar to the ‘friendly’ bacteria found in yoghurt.
Our final conclusion? Don’t fart naked near food. All right, it’s not rocket science. But then again, maybe it is?
2. Herring (the fish) seem to communicate using farts!
Nearly a decade ago, marine biologist Ben Wilson and his merry researchers discovered that Atlantic and Pacific herring can create high-frequency sounds by releasing air from their anuses. They named the bursts of pulses “Fast Repetitive Tick” (aka FRT) sounds, inspired by the noise that they make. Darkness and high densities of fish seem to trigger the farts, leading Wilson and his team to suspect that herring may use the FRT sounds to help them form protective shoals at night.
3. Some people honestly get turned on by farts!
(If you are hoping I write something about this, just go see: eproctophilia.)
4. One of the most famous depictions of farts comes from Dante’s Inferno!
In the passage describing a band of demons who gather to escort Dante and Virgil:
Per l’argine sinistro volta dienno;
ma prima avea ciascuna la lingua stretta
coi denta, verso lor duca, per cenno;
ed elli avea del cul fatto trombetta. (XXI, 136–9)
[They made left face on the bank; but first each had bit his tongue toward their leader, as a salute, and he of his ass had made a trumpet.]
5. Farting for defense was a feature commonly found in Japanese folklore.
Way before Mario would go around jumping on koopa, Japanese folklore has had kappa, a mischievous race of water sprites that would go around cavity searching unsuspecting villagers in order to obtain a human shirikodama, which was a soul-bearing, magical orb. One trick to keep the kappa off your arse, (literally,) was to blast them away by bursts of flatulence. Above is a great example in ukiyo-e by Tsukioka Yoshitoshi, (1839-1892), “Farting at a kappa at the lumber yard in Fukagawa”.