Wednesday, March 16, 2011

The Cow Fart-O-Meter - A Most Excellent Canadian Invention

When I present in schools on science topics, my most popular "bit" is derived from an experiment described in my book, Science in the Loose.


The experiment, conducted by a team of snorfing, giggling Aussies, sought to determine who farts more, boys or girls.

During my presentations, I work with kids to develop an experiment of our own that would get good, accurate results for this problem. Along the way, we usually determine we need to find or build some kind of machine, a "fart-o-meter," that we could use to measure the volume of gas produced by each of our subjects.

So imagine my delight when I came across a news story this morning announcing that a team of Canadians have devised such a machine - expressly for cows! They did so in conjunction with the planet's foremost fart experts, yes, a team of scientists from Australia. The measuring device involves shooting laser beams from above onto a bunch of grazing cattle. The data collected can be analyzed to account for variables such as, ahem, wind.

My only disappointment was in learning that most of cows' gas is emitted via the bovine burp. Only 2% comes out frow the cow-boose. So if you want to be nit-picky about it, the Cow Fart-O-Meter, alas, should really be called a Burp-O-Meter.

Even so, I think the Canadian-Australian collaboration is something to be celebrated. So let one rip and say hip hip hooray for the folks who think farting - and burping - are worthy of scientific research.


To read the full article in the Ottawa Citizen, click here.

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