Thursday, January 3, 2008

Factoids about flatulence

  • 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: "I've never heard of an explosion in someone who's had a decent prep. But until they used these prep solutions, there was a problem with explosions.''

Via Steven Levitt

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