The College’s members are a curious and talented assemblage of professionals from diverse academic backgrounds and with a broad range of skills, interests, and sound frequencies. This will be the first in a series of short interviews with some of the members.
Benengeli: Greetings Mr. PizzaHead…or is it Dr. PizzaHead? Tell us a little bit about yourself.
PizzaHead: I’m just a ‘mister’, though I have considered earning my PhD in at least two different fields. I am a co-founder of the College, but my affiliation with many of its members goes way back. For a long time some of us were informally producing farts without access to proper technology to assist with data collection. With the benefit of hindsight we can now appreciate the lost opportunities. I have a diverse educational background and a broad skill-set which has helped to advance one of the College’s main goals: to gather & measure farts.
Benengeli: What is your primary role at the College?
PizzaHead: I make significant contributions to engineering and software development, and more minor contributions to experimental design and data collection. Specifically, I constructed all four of our data-collection stations (the Bonaventure, the Montalban, the Poncharello, and the VanDamme), created the Fart Browser (in which I am also well represented as a content contributor), and produced this blog.
Benengeli: Have you always been interested in the formal study of farts?
PizzaHead: Funny you should ask. 25 years ago I co-founded a similar project with the simple goal of assembling a large collection of farts and presenting them on the Internet. We successfully put together about 200 farts (collected from two individuals), but didn’t have the foresight to measure anything more than audio. We were also rather narrowly focused solely on the humorous aspect of farts and completely missed the bigger picture. Ahhh, the folly of youth. It’s been quite thrilling to see the original concept evolve so profoundly. Incidentally, we plan to examine the relationship of my farts of 25 years ago to my current output in a future post.
Benengeli: What do you see as the most challenging aspect of the project?
PizzaHead: Number and diversity of data contributors. We’re a relatively small group of similar-aged folks from comparable backgrounds. It would benefit the project greatly to expand our numbers to ensure our findings are truly generalizable. To that end I plan to publish detailed construction plans in a future post along with a shopping list so that anyone could partner with us.
Benengeli: Any other challenges that are specific to your role?
PizzaHead: Laughter during collection is an issue. It’s not that we don’t want to encourage it (we do) but it interferes with the audio analysis in some undesirable ways. Since it’s likely not possible (and probably not desirable) to train participants to stifle this natural reaction I’m planning on attacking the problem at an engineering level. Modifications to the collection device or the recording equipment might get us there.
Benengeli: I would be remiss if I didn’t ask if you had a favourite fart in the collection. Do you?
PizzaHead: That’s tough. There are so many that are worthy of a mention. I suppose if I had to narrow it down to just one, it might be this one:
Benengeli: Thanks so much for your time and good luck with the project!
PizzaHead: With pleasure.