The study was the first ever attempt to provide an objective evaluation of the odour of flatus, Levitt explains. Volunteer judges, blinded to the identity of the generating gender, were asked to rank the potency of the end product.
Volunteer producers -- primed by a diet of pinto beans -- farted into aluminum bags via a rectal tube. The contents of the bags were measured for volume and for sulphur concentration. (Sulphur gases give farts their foul odour.) Syringes full of gas were withdrawn from the bags and wafted by the nostrils of the unfortunate judges.
"Some journal reviewed the worst jobs ever performed in science and this became the number 1,'' Levitt says with a chuckle.