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Smell and Taste Roundup

October 30, 2009

Scientists are hard at work trying to imitate the canine nose.

Transcript

BOB HIRSHON (host):
Is your smell unique? I’m Bob Hirshon and this is Science Update.

A review article in Chemical And Engineering News describes attempts by humans to imitate the canine nose. The Department of Homeland Security is trying to create an odor ID database; artificial noses in airports and other public places could then sniff for suspects. And the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency is working on RealNose, a sort of simulated canine in a can that could not only sniff out individuals but also detect instances of lying and diagnose disease.

In other sensory news, scientists at the National Institutes of Health and other labs report in the journal Science that they’ve figured out how we taste carbonation. Taste buds that detect sourness have a compound that reacts with the CO2 in fizzy drinks. Why this doesn’t make carbonation simply taste sour isn’t yet known. I’m Bob Hirshon for AAAS, the Science Society.