The bottom line, as it were

Wayne E Baisley wbaisley@enspherics.com
Thu, 23 Aug 2001 16:02:31 -0500


>From Private Eye's (http://www.private-eye.co.uk/) current Funny Old
World column ...

"It all started with an enquiry from a nurse," Dr Karl Kruszelnicki told
listeners to his science phone-in show on the Triple J radio station in
Brisbane. "She wanted to know whether she was contaminating the
operating theatre she worked in by quietly farting in the sterile
environment during operations, and I realised that I didn't know. But I
was determined to find out."

Dr Kruszelnicki then described the method by which he had established
whether human flatus was germ-laden, or merely malodorous. "I contacted
Luke Tennent, a microbiologist in Canberra, and together we devised an
experiment. He asked a colleague to break wind directly onto two Petri
dishes from a distance of five centimetres, first fully clothed, then
with his trousers down. Then he observed what happened. Overnight, the
second Petri dish sprouted visible lumps of two types of bacteria that
are usually only found in the gut and on the skin. But the flatus which
had passed through clothing caused no bacteria to sprout, which suggests
that clothing acts as a filter.

"Our deduction is that the enteric zone in the second Petri dish was
caused by the flatus itself, and the splatter ring around that was
caused by the sheer velocity of the fart, which blew skin bacteria from
the cheeks and blasted it onto the dish. It seems, therefore, that
flatus can cause infection if the emitter is naked, but not if he or she
is clothed. But the results of the experiment should not be considered
alarming, because neither type of bacterium is harmful. In fact, they're
similar to the 'friendly' bacteria found in yoghurt.

"Our final conclusion? Don't fart naked near food. Alright, it's not
rocket science. But then again, maybe it is?" (Canberra Times, 17/7/01.
Spotter: Michael Doyle)

Cheers,
Wayne