The Physics of Farting

SmokestackI know that this is a touchy subject for most people. As a matter of fact, that’s really the point of this essay. As such, I will begin with some basic and irrefutable premises.

1. All people fart in some capacity or another.
2. Most people would rather eat broken glass than fart publicly (Grandfathers, babies, and animals are the typical exceptions).
3. Many of us have put considerably more thought into this at one time or another than may be rational.

The third item is a typically result of the failing at item #2. For example, I once let one go in the living room from behind the sofa where my daughter was watching television. This, in and of itself was not a violation of #2 since it was not exactly public. I knew that my daughter would be unhappy and probably voice her disgust, but I was a safe distance away in a room with a 14 foot ceiling (Fart Physics Law #27 – Heat rises). Unfortunately, her immediate reaction was one of shocked embarrassment rather than revulsion. It seems she had a friend over who was scrunched down on the couch next to her. Please pass the broken glass.

My wife has a higher threshold of embarrassment than I, so she rarely indulges herself even within the comfort of my presence. This has helped her to develop a strength of sphincter that can only be described as Herculean. Her toots are sometimes so high pitched as to remind one of Maynard Ferguson. When I hear dogs barking in the neighborhood, I stay out of the bathroom for an extra tem minutes.

Her brother, on the other hand, appears to be one of the rare exceptions to Rule #2 who is neither elderly nor infant. He did serve in the Marines for several years so I have considered that there is a barracks mentality of which I am unaware. One day we were sitting on the bank of a canal behind my house while fishing. Although we were outdoors, I was sitting only about three feet from him. He leaned to one side and…HooRah! Fortunately, the breeze was in my favor. This may have even been part of his military training. Still, I could not help but wonder what this would have been like in a steamy fox hole in Khe Sahn. He may have even given our position away!

As a result of events like these, I have developed a very scientific approach to the problem. I will illustrate this by relating a true story about an experience I had on a cruise ship a couple of years ago. I was by myself heading down a long corridor toward my cabin to pick something up. I had just left a meal with my wife and some traveling companions so I had a double gas incentive. Being with others in the dining room required me to demonstrate a higher level of vigilance than say, sitting on deck in a seventeen knot breeze. Additionally, the standard cruise meal can always be counted on to expedite the gastric processes.

I didn’t want to wait until I got to the room since at 178 square feet and low ceilings, I might have left too personal a message for the room steward. As a result, I immediately began my calculations. Obviously, the first step was to check the corridor behind me. It was clear. Ahead of me was a party of three, but they were sufficiently far away to be out of the blast zone. Also, there was a significant statistical possibility that they would exit the corridor at the exit between us.

Here’s where it gets tricky. If I move at an increased pace, I will dissipate the cloud more efficiently, but will close the gap between my potential victims and me. This is where the knowledge of physics and the speed of calculation are critical. At this point, I am like the Terminator, processing telemetry data as I move.

My calculations completed, I decided on the optimum course and let fly with a significant burst of methane. I at once experienced a wave of both physical and spiritual satisfaction. My joy is increased when the approaching party turned for the exit, leaving me a clear path from any embarrassment.

Unfortunately, my euphoria was short-lived. A young boy, probably seven or eight, had apparently dashed up the hall behind me while I was lost in calculation. The kid was barefoot, adding to his stealth. He clearly had taken it point blank, and due to his height, in the face no less. He rushed past me waving his arms and making a face as though the napalm was still burning his flesh. Lucky for me, his poor excuse for parents had let him run free, so there were no witnesses. He was probably already old enough to be too embarrassed to report to them that he had been farted upon by “some old dude”.

In hindsight (pun intended), all of my math and logic had failed me. I actually envied my future self when I will have such a consistent load of fuel that I will be ready for any grandchild foolish enough to “pull my finger”. I will be free of stress and embarrassment and will happily allow nature to take its course. I’ll just smile and blame the dog.

© Copyright 2015 – Robert O’Connell. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Robert O’Connell with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

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