Today’s Solutions: June 09, 2023

Marco Visscher | August 2009 issue

After Trevor Cox, professor of acoustics at the University of Salford in central England, designed the world’s largest whoopee cushion (it’s six feet—two meters—in diameter), he was approached by the British charity Comic Relief to carry out a little, um, research. Every year Comic Relief raises millions of dollars to tackle global poverty by organizing events and comedy performances. The charity wanted Cox to find out which whoopee cushion sound was the most amusing. So he set up a website,, that asks users to rate the funniest sounds of flatulence.
When Cox isn’t testing whoopee cushions, he’s designing sound systems for concert halls and cinemas and researching the acoustics of performance spaces. He became interested in whoopee cushions, he says, because “the physics of the whoopee cushion works as an analogy of how your own voice works, or the mouthpiece of a clarinet. It’s simply a memorable way to get people, especially children, interested in acoustic science.” The Comic Relief research was “a silly science Web experiment,” Cox says. “An opportunity to raise money and have some fun.”
A fun time was had by all who’ve sampled the sounds—tens of thousands of folks to date. As a result, Cox discovered three rules of whoopee cushion acoustics: “The longer it lasts, the funnier it is; if the sound is a bit whiney, it tends to be funnier; and the younger you are, the funnier you think this is.”

Man or woman which is funnier?

Are unexpected whoopee cushion sounds funnier?

How does a whoopee cushion make sound?

Does whoopee cushion size matter?

Print this article
More of Today's Solutions

Microparticle therapy shows promise in reversing multiple sclerosis

A pioneering study demonstrated a novel microparticle therapy's ability to reverse nerve cell damage caused by multiple sclerosis (MS) in mice. This ground-breaking medication not only opens ...

Read More

Construction project completes the world’s first 3D printed two-story home

Considered one of the largest sources of environmental pollution in the world, it’s no secret that the construction industry is in need of a ...

Read More

Rotterdam becomes home to the world’s largest floating office

While Rotterdam is typically known for hosting Europe’s biggest port, the second largest Dutch city is also famous as a forerunning innovator in climate ...

Read More

For the first time ever, Greece meets energy demands with 100% renewables

The other week, Greece celebrated an exciting milestone! All of the country’s electricity needs were met by renewable energy for the first time, as ...

Read More