September 18, 2010

What Does the World's Leading Fart Scientist Have to Say?

I was just reading an article titled “Pong-ology: Sniffing out a cure for iffy whiffs.” 

If you’re not familiar with the terms “pong” or “iffy whiff”, this is British slang for general body odor, including the things that Americans call “bowel howls” or “farts.”

The piece has a great subheading, too: “Most of us steer well clear of halitosis, body odor, farts and smelly feet.” What a great start! The article had an interview with Mel Roseburg, who is one of the world’s leading experts on bad breath (aka, halitosis). He founded the International Society for Breath Odor Research

Not only that, the writer also spoke with scientist Glenn Gibson, “one of the world's leading fart scientists, [who] can talk at length on the subject.”

When it comes to farts, Gibson says, there are two kinds of people: “smelly or inflammable.” (The difference has to do with the types of bacteria in the gut.) And to study bodily gas, Gibson’s even built the kind of poop machines that I talk about in The Big Book of Gross Stuff

He keeps the poop machines in a university lab devoted to food and nutrition. Before Gibson got there, this department USED to smell like freshly baked bread. But what about now? 

Now it smells of excrement,” Gibson says. “The whole department complains about it.” I bet! This video about one of his poop machines starts with the coolest line of all time: “This contraption produces bad smells.”
—The article I’m referring to is in the New Scientist. (You have to register to read the whole thing.) 
—The book I Stink! by Kate and Jim McMullan can be purchased here.
—Poop machine illustration by the amazing Russell Miller.

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