02 January 2008

The scientific benefits of farts and bogeys

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Although my days of science study are long, long over but I do try to keep abreast of scientific developments. It was with great pleasure to see today’s Independent and a discussion of some more bizarre scientific developments. However, it is unlikely that any of these will be up for an Ig Nobel:

Kangaroo farts

Research carried out in Queensland for the past four years has determined that kangaroos are able to produce environmentally friendly farts: bacteria in the stomach lining of kangaroos that means they do not contain methane. The team, led by Dr Athol Klieve, believes that unlocking this secret could lead to the creation of more climate-friendly cattle. Between them, the flatulent farm animals produce so much methane that they account for 14 per cent of greenhouse gas emissions in Australia, second only to power stations. But if the kangaroo bacteria were added to cattle feed, the researchers hope they could create herds with much lower carbon footprints. Kangaroo stomachs are more than just green. Instead of methane, they produce a chemical that improves digestion. Feed laced with kangaroo bacteria could give rise to livestock that is not only greener, but also faster-growing and me fertile.

Methane-busting feed supplements could be available commercially in as little as three years.

Robo-snot


As well as being a tasty and nutritious snack olfactory mucus actually enhances our sense of smell. It separates the chemical compounds that make up the smell of, say, frying onions. These compounds travel through the mucus at different speeds, hitting our scent receptors at different times. By dissecting and separating smells in this way, mucus allows our brains to identify scents more quickly and accurately.

In April, Professor Julian Gardner of the University of Warwick started to improve his electronic noses, which have been used (without mucus) for years, in everything from the production of artificial fragrances to quality control in crisp factories. "We built a polymer that replicates the function of snot," says Gardner. "It's not green but it has the same consistency as human snot and, applied to our sensors, means our artificial noses are at least five times better than those without snot."

And who says science can't be fun!

14 comments:

Anonymous said...

Next you'll be telling us that ear wax improves your hearing.

jams o donnell said...

You never know but it ain't that tasty!

Liz Hinds said...

Glad to hear the kangaroo news but a little confused by the snot piece. As Roger b. suggests, you're implying that a bunged-up nose sniffs things out better than a clear one? Hmm.

Agnes said...

"enhances our sense of smell." - that's my problem, Ask a shrink about the psychology of farting. I am glad to hear that kangoroos will save Australia: I thought human males will
save mother earth.

jams o donnell said...

Ah not quite Liz! but it seems that mucus plays a part in the way we smell, well under normal circumstances anyway...

Hmm Red, I think my bottom symphonies are detrimental to mother earth rather than helping it!

Sean Jeating said...

Very interesting, Jams.
Tiny additional information: EFFI (Environmental Friendly Farts Industry) is mostly likely to become a if not the big business of the next two centuries. According to my friend Tetrapilotomos one of his source's deep throats has learnt that Monsanto has already safeguarded its interests.

Sean Jeating said...

oops: ... have ... their, I suppose. :)

Frank Partisan said...

You have the last word on that subject.

jmb said...

The post of the day for me. Our tax dollars at work for the good of mankind.

jams o donnell said...

I can see big Pharma geting in on this Sean. Imagine soon a fart that is good for the environment but also free from odour. It will be a source of riches!

Glad you like it jmb. I could not resist an article that has farts, snot and science in one go!

CC said...

The dried boogers on my fingers is making it hard to type this comment.

jams o donnell said...

Ah Ewbl they have to be eaten fresh!

Claude said...

What you posted is keeping me on my fasting diet for at least another month.

To smell or not to smell... in the words of the Bard!

jams o donnell said...

Haha!