The world is full of gas
A Dadding story
My 10-year-old daughter and I are watching Assembly Required, a “build-it” show with Tim Allen and Richard Karn. They’re constructing torches. Allen makes a sideways reference to lighting farts.
“Do you know what they’re talking about?” I asked my ten-year-old.
Often, when I ask that question, I am surprised at what she knows, but this time, she hadn’t even noticed. It didn’t connect at all.
“Lighting farts,” I said, pausing the video. Pausing video is a wonderful opportunity for parents to turn TV watching into an interactive experience.
“You use a flame and the fart catches fire.”
What followed is one of those joy-and-wonder moments in parenting as her face went to maximal bewilderment as she started to wrap her mind around this. It was like a ten-second video. I could see her mind racing through the sequence.
Wait, what? What does that mean? Is that even possible? How? And wait, is that a thing?
She asked, “Do you use a tube?” She clearly had a mental image of the direct approach and wanted not to go there.
“No. No tubes.”
She asked, “Can you light burps?” I can tell she is already thinking this is something we might try and wants to make it, um, doable.
I explained methane. Short branch into carbon, hydrogen, CO2, H2O. Short, because I know her brain is still 🤯 over the main topic.
Usually, I prefer real-world experimentation but there will not be a demo today. Instead, we pop over to YouTube and find an old MythBusters episode where Adam risks his bum and sacrifices all pretense at dignity.
So, I explain. “Yes. It’s real. Yes, it’s a thing.”
Yes, a lesson in combustion chemistry and greenhouse gases and cow flatulence.
And, “yes, Larry Gorman did this in real life, in a high school locker room.”
I love being a Dad.