Left banner image adapted from amyloidosis gross node, by Ed Uthman MD, Creative Commons license
Ah, the digestive system, the most embarrassing of all the body systems. The breakdown of food results in a number of unsavory fluids and gases that then need to be released. I had a Chemistry teacher once who said that if you didn't burp or fart you'd explode. See, it's natural!

What is a fart?
The process of passing gas is known as flatulence. A fart is essentially the sound made by intestinal gas exiting the anus. The gas is a natural byproduct of digestion.

How does the gas form? The gas may be air that was swallowed during eating (or chewing gum, smoking, or other habits that bring air into the mouth) that has made its way through the system (though its often expelled via the mouth, i.e. a burp), or the gas is the product of the bacteria in the intestines. Yes, your food is partially digested by bacteria that live inside you. More about that on "your body hates you Thursday".

When sugars and starches are broken down they produce gases that need to escape. Some of it is absorbed into the blood, some of it is "eaten" by the bacteria, but much of it finds its way out with the feces. The better digested the food is when it enters the large intestine, the less gas it will produce, so undigestible foods (like beans!) cause more gas.

Fancy word for this: flatus

What makes the noise? When air passes through an opening it vibrates the edges . The more air (or gas in this case) that tries to get through a smaller opening the louder the sound of the vibration. So the sound a fart makes depends on the amount of gas being passed, how fast it's being pushed out, and the tightness of the spincter muscle. The anus is not actually a hole, but an opening, so when air exits it can make quite a bit of sound. (Wonder what the anus looks like? Here's a NSFW* picture)

Gross fact: The average person passes gas 14-23 times a day 

(*NSFW = not safe for work)

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