There are some projects that could simply never be begun, much less completed, by anyone but a geek. Two students at Cornell University have provided a perfect example of this sort of project by creating a Fart Intensity Detector.
I don’t have to tell you that they’re guys, right? Their names are Robert Clain and Miguel Salas, and they made the device as the final project for their Introduction to Microcontroller Programming class. They chose to rank “fart magnitude” based on sound, temperature, and gas produced, which seems a bit limited to me—but then, this was an introductory class.
Fortunately for geeks everywhere, they put the project online, complete with photographs, schematics, and C code for their software. As a software engineer, I was most interested in the code, about which I will only say that as programmers they make excellent electrical engineers (I particularly like that they left a fair bit of commented-out code in the listing). I also love that they went to some effort to make their detector user-friendly.
The marketing possibilities for such a device seem grim, but it seems to me Clain and Salas may have a fine future ahead of them if they continue on the geeky path they’re currently on.