Farts can be giggle-worthy and gross, but every person on Earth farts, as well as lots of animals… so why don’t we know more about them? Even people throughout history have wrestled with what farts are and how they might fit into society, including Founding Father Benjamin Franklin who once wrote:
It is universally well known, That in digesting our common Food, there is created or produced in the Bowels of human Creatures, a great Quantity of Wind.
That the permitting this Air to escape and mix with the Atmosphere, is usually offensive to the Company, from the fetid Smell that accompanies it.
That all well-bred People therefore, to avoid giving such Offence, forcibly restrain the Efforts of Nature to discharge that Wind…
Were it not for the odiously offensive Smell accompanying such Escapes, polite People would probably be under no more Restraint in discharging such Wind in Company, than they are in spitting, or in blowing their Noses.
As it turns out, only a small part of a fart is stinky. The rest is made from oxygen, nitrogen, carbon dioxide, hydrogen, and methane. So what’s in that stinky part, how much do we fart every day, and why is it so funny to hear fart noises? Joe Hanson explores the wonderful world of farts in this episode of It’s Okay to Be Smart: It’s Okay to Fart.
Related reading for all ages: Does It Fart?: The Definitive Field Guide to Animal FlatulenceThen watch these videos next: The Chemistry of Skunk Spray What causes body odor? How Far Do Sneezes and Vomit Travel? and How To Make Fake Poo, a mini psychology experiment.