The Art and Science of Farting

Salon hat einen hochamüsanten und superinteressanten Artikel über das Furzen. Ja, echt und ganz ohne Gnihihi. Der Text steigt ein mit einem Portrait von Joseph „Le Pétomane“ Pujol, der im 19. Jahrhundert im Moulin Rouge mit seinem Anus Luft ansaugen und diese mit Tonhöhenmodulation wieder ausfurzen (und dabei auch Kerzen ausblasen) konnte – der Mann hat unter anderem vor Prinz Edward, König Leopold II und Sigmund Freud gefurzt –, und schwingt sich dann über einen kurzen Exkurs über die Motivation des Autoren Robert R. Provine, der wissenschaftlich untersuchte, warum wir mit dem Mund und nicht mit dem After sprechen, zu einer historischen Abhandlung des Furzes und einer rein physikalischen und chemischen Untersuchung des Furz-Vorgangs. Im Ernst: Lest das! Grandioser Artikel, extrem faszinierend und komplett flatulös-hervorragend, sozusagen! Und „Buttspeak“ steht seit grade eben in meinem Buch der coolen Worte.

At his peak, Le Pétomane easily outearned the great actress Sarah Bernhardt, his closest contender. And what was the act of this artist who “pays no author’s royalties”? He would begin with a series of ordinary farts, describing each in turn— a little girl, a mother-in-law, a bride on her wedding night (weak) and on the morning after (loud), tearing cloth, cannon fire, and thunder. With a tube inserted in his rectum, he would smoke a cigarette or attach a flute and play tunes. But his real artistry was accomplished au naturel.

Le Pétomane’s repertoire included animal sounds— a rooster crowing, a puppy, a dog with its tail caught in a door, a blackbird, an owl, a duck, bees, a tomcat, a toad, a pig, and musical instruments including violin, bass, and trombone. The climax of Le Pétomane’s performance was a stirring rendition of “La Marseillaise” that brought down the house. […]

Farting is an acoustic as well as chemical event, and I wanted to subject it to the type of analysis used previously for laughs, farting and belching coughs, sneezes, and hiccups. It should be easy to collect fart sounds for analysis; the average twenty- to thirty-year-old farts about thirteen times per day. However, not wishing to pursue the indelicate task of collecting further data, I will confine my analysis to the already collected sample from the laughing subject.

The bottom trace of a fart’s acoustic structure is a sound spectrum that shows strong harmonic structure, as reflected in the regular stack of frequency bands that are multiples of a fundamental frequency of around 150 Hz at mid-burst. The fart has a tonal quality and is clearly not a noisy blast with a random distribution of frequencies. The fart also has a periodic, pulsatile quality (amplitude modulation). A raspberry or Bronx cheer, produced by placing the tongue between the lips and blowing, makes a similar sound. Farts lack the structural stereotypy of laughs, coughs, sneezes, and hiccups, and their duration is determined by the highly variable supply of available gas. The artistry of Le Pétomane is testimony to the flexibility of this channel of communication.

Passing gas is an art and science – Why can't we talk out of our rears? Are those movie explosions possible? A scientist puts farts under a microscope (via The Browser)

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