There's a Reason Why It Smells Extra Gross If You Fart in the Shower

iStock
iStock

No, it’s not just you: Farts really do smell worse when you let one rip while taking a steamy shower. But it’s not like water contains magical properties that make flatulence more potent, right? So what gives?

As Hank Green explains in SciShow’s latest video, part of the reason for the extra-noxious fumes is simply that you’re stuck in an enclosed space, so your butt blasts have nowhere to migrate. Plus, you’re not wearing clothing to absorb or lock the smell in.

That said, the bathroom’s humidity probably also plays a part, as research shows that water vapor in the air can actually enhance your sense of smell. Scientists don’t know why exactly this is, but one possibility is that “the water vapor helps the molecules that make up the smell interact with receptors in your nose,” Green explains. Another theory is that the gas particles bind to the water vapor, as if the air were a sponge for your fart molecules. This allows it to hold more of the stench than plain old dry air.

Either way, the result is a shower experience that doesn't exactly make you feel squeaky clean. Learn more smelly facts about shower farts by watching the video below.

Scientists at UC San Diego Want You to Mail Them Your Poop

iStock.com/mapichai
iStock.com/mapichai

Poop. It’s fun to say, funny to talk about, and makes for an all-purpose emoji. But who wants to actually handle it?

Now, researchers of the American Gut Project at the University of California, San Diego, may be giving people new motivations to not only retain a stool sample, but pack it up and ship it to them. According to Inside Science, a team led by biologist Rob Knight is currently welcoming fecal samples from the public at large to analyze their microbiome profiles.

The microbiome is the assembly of bacteria, fungi, and other organisms that live in and on our bodies, which can change in response to lifestyle habits like diet and exercise. Recent research suggests that some microbiome profiles may make people predisposed to conditions like obesity and cancer, and might even influence our mental health. Altering the microbiome may have potentially beneficial health effects, which is why researchers like Knight are looking to collect data—in this case, poop.

“Your microbiome weighs about as much as your brain does—you're talking about a couple of pounds of material,” Knight told Inside Science. “And it certainly has more cells, way more genes, arguably as much complexity as your brain. And we're just starting to understand the far-reaching effects that it has on the rest of your body.”

Knight says that over 10,000 people have already donated their excrement for science as part of the project. And it's already producing results. In the first published study of the American Gut Project's work, which appeared in the American Society for Microbiology's journal mSystems in May 2018, the researchers found that plant-heavy diets led to a more diverse bacterial colony in stomachs than people who ate comparatively fewer types of greens. Their data also showed some preliminary evidence that people with mental health complaints tended to have similar microbiomes as people who reported the same issues.

Knight and his colleagues would love to analyze your poop in an effort to compile more information, but there is a catch: Donors have to pay a $99 fee to join the project, an informal kind of crowdfunding that keeps the research financed. If you submit a sample—basically a poop swab taken from your used toilet tissue—the team at Human Gut will send you a personalized microbiome profile and an assessment of how your gut flora compares with the rest of the population. For incrementally larger fees, you might be able to see how your diet, level of exercise, and family members' flora affect your microbiome at finer resolutions. They’ll even test your dog’s donations.

You can join the effort here. The future of poop research thanks you for your participation.

[h/t SF Gate]

McDonald's Touchscreen Menus Are Covered in Poop, Report Finds

Joe Raedle, Getty Images
Joe Raedle, Getty Images

Would you like a side of poop with your McGriddle? If you use the touchscreen monitors at McDonald’s to order it, you might not have much of a choice. In a recent investigation by the UK newspaper Metro in collaboration with London Metropolitan University, researchers found fecal matter on every touchscreen they tested across eight different McDonald's restaurants.

They swabbed the surfaces of touchscreen devices that had recently been rolled out at eight McDonald’s locations in the UK (six in London and two in Birmingham). All of them contained coliforms, which are bacteria found in digestive tracts and feces. A sample from one of the screens also tested positive for Staphylococcus aureus, a bacteria that can cause skin infections, food poisoning, and occasionally more serious conditions like blood poisoning and toxic shock syndrome. Listeria and Proteus bacteria, which can also pose health threats, were detected on touchscreens in a few restaurants as well.

Paul Matewele, a microbiology lecturer at London Metropolitan University, said he was shocked to see such a high prevalence of gut and fecal bacteria on the touchscreens. Their use in fast food establishments is becoming increasingly common, but as this analysis shows, they do come with risks.

“Touchscreen technology is being used more and more in our daily lives but these results show people should not eat food straight after touching them. They are unhygienic and can spread disease,” Matewele told Metro. “Someone can be very careful about their own hygiene throughout the day but it could all be undone by using a touchscreen machine once.”

A McDonald’s spokesman said that the restaurants clean their self-order screens often throughout the day, but Matewele said the disinfectant must not be strong enough to kill all of the bacteria. However, as Newsweek notes, the sample size for the study was quite small. It only tested touchscreens at eight out of roughly 1300 McDonald's restaurants in the UK.

The more something is touched by multiple people, the more likely it is to harbor harmful germs. Beyond fast food joints, bacterial hotbeds include elevator buttons, office doors, and airport security bins. If you're going to be touching any of these surfaces, just be sure to wash your hands before eating. Big Macs included.

[h/t Metro]

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