While there are plenty of concerning global issues to discuss, let us for once, take a break from the onslaught of politics, fear-mongering and celebrity tabloids. Let us, instead, remember that there is more to this world than we think. So turn not to your television sets or smartphones to see where the future of humanity will lie. Turn to your farts.
Yes, you read that correctly. Farts. Flatulence. Passing gas. Cheek squeaks. Grundle rumble. Whooper, steamer, whoopee and whopper. Hopefully, the point is understood by now. Farts have been the butt of all too many jokes, and for good reason.
That being said, much like many of the great misunderstandings of humanity, farts have a purpose — and a positive one at that.
In the past, experts have said that giving the ol’ “one man salute” was a sign of a healthy gut. While that remains true, the secrets of the fart, it turns out, run much deeper. And thanks to one wind-breaking professor, those secrets are now unlocked.
Australian Fart Scientist Measures Our Gas
Meet Peter Gibson. He’s a professor and director of gastroenterology at both the Alfred Centre and Monash Univeristy in Australia. The past few years have seen Professor Gibson work endlessly to create a unique device that can measure our gases at various stages of digestion. And while the end result may be the most well-known to all of us amateur comedians, it’s hardly the most important. According to Gibson, actually passing the gas tells us very little about our gut — it’s during the rest of its journey that we find the real revelations.
Recently, Gibson and his team of “fart scientists” had a major development. Using a small, easily swallowable, high-tech capsule, Gibson devised a way to track our gas as it passes through our system. Believe it or not, the benefits are far more than being able to perfect comedic timing.
The Future of Flatulence is Here
Gibson wired this “smart fart pill” to take real-time measurements of our bowels and provide samples of gas at regular intervals in the digestive tract. From there, the capsule sends data to a computer. It’s also equipped with a sensor that is used to measure other factors of the gut, such as acidity and temperature.
So what exactly is it like to have a tiny computer pass through your body and out through that sacred hole? According to Gibson, the user won’t even know it’s there. The pill will become just another part of the stool. Researchers will be able to tell when it has left the body when the temperature records drop.
All of this is just one aspect of a future that’s winding up to be quite surreal. For those breathing a sigh of relief at the thought of living out your last days free of computers in your digestive system, think again. Gibson has already begun testing his pill in pigs, and human trials are just around the corner. It seems we’ll all be taking our farts far more seriously soon enough.
The State of Our Stomachs
Ostensibly, the stomach seems like a rather simple operation. It rumbles when it’s hungry and weighs us down when it’s full. Foods go in, acid breaks them down, and they enter the digestive tract. Along the way, a number of gases are produced. And while the sum of these may be nothing more than irritation and cheap thrills to the rest of us, to Gibson and his team, they are sets of data. Data that can be cross-referenced and compiled into an ever-growing library that will help determine how these gasses relate to various lifestyles — and diseases that might occur down the line as a result. This will not only help understand our gut, but help improve it’s functionality in the future.
But it goes even deeper than this. The stomach and the workings of the intestines have long been more of mystery to science than anything else, with the quality of our digestion previously being likened to what we eat more than anything else. While food is, of course, a very important factor, findings over the last few decades have revealed that it’s also a matter of genetics.
Our gut is essentially another brain in our body. It’s home to something known as the enteric nervous system, an area so thick with neurons that it’s often referred to as the ‘second brain‘. This area is so complex we still know very little about it — it possesses its own memory and can actually function independently of the brain in our heads. And while the complexity of such a system is currently impossible to measure, we do know that it controls gut motility, and that the performance of our bowels are linked very closely to it.
Gibson’s research is an important piece of the puzzle. When microbes in our gut become irritated or harmed, they release excess gas that causes discomfort and could result in health problems down the line. This gives “listening to your gut” a whole new meaning. Believe it or not, each one of our farts is different and carries a unique and important meaning.
An extra-smelly fart may be may be cause for concern, indicating damage to the lining of the gut. Or, if Gibson and his team found, say, too much methane or hydrogen in your gas, it could indicate issues digesting carbohydrates, or turn out to be the cause of your constipation. As the work evolves, the revelations could possibly be endless. Everything from colon cancer to inflammatory bowel disease could be diagnosed long before they’ve manifested in any of the organs.
Not to say that the ol’ “cheek sneak” can’t still be a good source for wholesome laughs — just don’t be so quick to fan it off. Thanks to Gibson, the future of farts is beginning to gain some serious steam, and our health will thank him for it.