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Scientists Closer To Creating Artificial Noses

samzenpus posted more than 5 years ago | from the can-you-smell-me-now dept.

Biotech 99

Scientists at MIT have moved closer to being able to create an artificial nose after finding a way to mass-produce smell receptors. The MIT RealNose project seeks to recreate the most complex and least-understood of the five senses: smell. The team plans to work with researchers around the world to develop a portable microfluidic device that can identify various smells, including diseases with unique odors, such as diabetes and certain cancers.

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99 comments

Color me surprised (5, Funny)

webheaded (997188) | more than 5 years ago | (#25226885)

And to think I was hoping to come in here to see an article about Michael Jackson...

Re:Color me surprised (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25228861)

You, sir, missed out a great first post with a Smell-o-scope joke. I am disappointed.

Re:Color me surprised (1)

An ominous Cow art (320322) | more than 5 years ago | (#25232523)

This is not a joking matter. My dog has no nose.

Re:Color me surprised (1)

spun (1352) | more than 5 years ago | (#25232897)

No nose!? But how does he smell?

Interesting (2, Funny)

Moderator (189749) | more than 5 years ago | (#25226887)

So this adds an interesting twist on the old "I've got your nose" gag.

Need I say it? (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25226937)

Michael would be proud.

I would give up my eight other senses (2, Funny)

Dachannien (617929) | more than 5 years ago | (#25226945)

the most complex and least-understood of the five senses, smell

And here I thought it was "smision".

Re:I would give up my eight other senses (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25235191)

Next they'll make us able to smell colour...

Poison Sniffers (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25226955)

I can see this turning into or at least leading to the development of poison sniffers/snoopers found in the Dune universe and many other science fiction universes.

what's the point? (2, Interesting)

ILuvRamen (1026668) | more than 5 years ago | (#25226957)

a nose is just a limited, selective set of chemoreceptors or whatever. So instead of trying to produce similar ones, just take two of those "everything sensing" plates that they said can identify any type of matter and stick em inside a silicone nose and call it a nose. It'd work better than trying to replicate the way organic ones work.

Re:what's the point? (1)

philspear (1142299) | more than 5 years ago | (#25227069)

Nature designed the olfactory receptors over millions of years, and like most biological mollecules designed in such a way, they are incredibly efficient and specific. There is one male bug that can smell a female from miles away and track it (I can't remember the name right now though.)

I don't know anythign about the everything sensors you're talking about, I have to say that. However, you can't tell me we can make a machine small enough to fit on a bug that can detect chemicals from another bug-sized object over a mile away with any accuracy. Copying nature is the best way to go.

Re:what's the point? (1)

John Hasler (414242) | more than 5 years ago | (#25227163)

Sometimes we are interested in finding things other than femail bugs. In fact, we usually are, and we usually can't find a bug that want's to find what we want to find.

Re:what's the point? (1)

philspear (1142299) | more than 5 years ago | (#25227335)

Of course that was just one example to illustrate how great nature-designed olfactory receptors were. As far as usefulness, the summary mentioned diagnosing cancer from a smell. Hard to believe you actually missed that, so I'm assuming you were trying to make a joke, a sarcastic statement, a parody, or be ironic. Practice makes perfect!

Re:what's the point? (1)

John Hasler (414242) | more than 5 years ago | (#25232657)

I thought that these guys were trying to "copy nature" to the extent that that makes sense. You seemed to me to be saying that since some bug can do something amazing they shouldn't bother to try (you did title your article "what's the point".)

Re:what's the point? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25229933)

Sometimes we are interested in finding things other than femail bugs. In fact, we usually are, and we usually can't find a bug that want's to find what we want to find.

A'h. Bu't w'eve alre'ady inven'ted a' dete'ctor t'o sni'ff in'appropriate us'e o'f apos'trophe's fro'm thousand's 'of mile's awa'y.

Is "femail" email that has been fetched with fetchmail? Ewwwww.

Be afraid, be very afraid.

(signed) your friendly local spelling and grammar nazi

Re:what's the point? (1)

Merls the Sneaky (1031058) | more than 5 years ago | (#25228591)

Moths have very good smell and can detect female moths from miles away with only a few molecules.

The magic sensors (1)

DrYak (748999) | more than 5 years ago | (#25231779)

just take two of those "everything sensing" plates that they said can identify any type of matter

I don't know anythign about the everything sensors you're talking about, I have to say that.

Yes, you know them. It's the sensors plate they use in their detector thingy on CSI to analyse their clues. The people at Star Trek used to have them too, but theirs don't have the fancy graphics and can't read the murderer's name out of some hair.
{Runs away}

Seriously :
The closest thing that we have to some generic detector is complex installations which couple a one or two stage(s) of high performance liquid- or gaz- chromatography [wikipedia.org] with multiple rounds (="tandem") of mass spectromety [wikipedia.org] .
Then parse the result against large database using complex algorithms to determine what you've measured.
That's the current state-of-the-art in analytical chemistry (and some life-science such as proteomics, for that matters).

But, it is sufficient to say that you can't as easily stick them inside a silicone as you would stick them inside a silicone building. They are not quite portable.

And although they have some good discriminating ability (with good enough algorithms and sufficiently large but still specific database), their dynamic range isn't anywhere near the ability to smell the opposite-sex bug from miles away with only a couple of molecule.

There are portable/lugable devices, but those either use much simpler methods (most portable "check-the-water-quality" type of device use glass electrode [wikipedia.org] ) or simplified and less accurate systems (I think I've heard about lugable mass spectrometers). And a fare less sensitive and specific measuring methods.

Thus, as you suggest, mimicking or using nature's fine tuned systems is much more interesting than using some industrial detector.

Current trends tend to use :
- enzymes (which usually are naturally made to detect some specific substrate - this make it easy to design a detection method around it) which for example are used in quick-test detecting some bacteria (based on some specific enzyme they have).
- antibodies (specific and have the advantage that you can actually *breed them* to target what you want, but require some quircks in order to get a good response and a good detection).
the well known by everybody example are pregnancy test (use anti-bodies against women's hormone).
Currently systems that use small droplets of antibodies deposited on glass plates can provide some "plate that detect quite a few things".
Although, given the washes protocols and the laser reader, it's still not something you could put into a silicon nose.
And there are still lots of limitations on the antibodies you put on the plate.
- other kind of receptors could be handy too. the olfactory are an interesting thing. The bugs you mention have quite a few efficient one (I know for sure some butterfly do)

Re:The magic sensors (1)

wealthychef (584778) | more than 5 years ago | (#25248679)

Thus, as you suggest, mimicking or using nature's fine tuned systems is much more interesting than using some industrial detector.

You have great domain expertise, but I question your conclusion. Both using or mimicking nature's fine tuned systems and "using some industrial detector" to do chemical analysis are imperfect works in progress. Why toss one out in favor of the other at this point? Both are perfectly viable approaches.

Every job has a best tool (1)

DrYak (748999) | more than 5 years ago | (#25251939)

Why toss one out in favor of the other at this point? Both are perfectly viable approaches.

Well OK, sorry, I wasn't precise enough :
For the specific use of having something small that you can use in a cybernetic nose mimicking or using nature's fine tuned systems is much more interesting than using some industrial detector due to the size factor.

Every jobs has a different tool which is best for it.

I don't suggest that we should toss the LC-MS machine. I just suggest that the current state-of-the-art "detect almost everything chemical" machines aren't suited for building silicone nose as ILuvRamen proposed a couple of posts above (and could hardly be miniaturized. Some of the liquid-medium-oriented filtering methods can be reduced to microchannels, as employed by some lab-on-a-chip systems, but miniaturizing a mass-spectrometers will be hard due to several physical constrains).

For building miniaturized detectors, biochemistry is an interesting approach (currently developed, for example, in the form of antibodies microarrays), and analysing the various biochemical technique employed by nature to recognize molecules and amplify signal could give us some interesting insight.

Re:what's the point? (1)

nospam007 (722110) | more than 5 years ago | (#25233923)

Here's a photo of one.

http://tinyurl.com/3nb66o [tinyurl.com]

Re:what's the point? (3, Interesting)

Cathoderoytube (1088737) | more than 5 years ago | (#25227333)

The idea is they're trying to figure out how smell actually works. There're some crazy problems with figuring out how and why smell works, like the shape of the molecules coming into contact with the receptors, and why two completely different molecules can be interpreted as the same smell, and why two molecules of similar makeup can produce completely different smells. It's not just a matter of slapping some pads on the inside of a silicon nose.

Re:what's the point? (1)

New_Age_Reform_Act (1256010) | more than 5 years ago | (#25228831)

My dream girl is a pretty doctor but somehow with a big nose. Now we finally have some way to have a nose bigger than hers.

Who would want a nose that sensitive? (1)

bugnuts (94678) | more than 5 years ago | (#25226975)

In the future, the RealNose team plan to ... identify various smells, including diseases with distinctive odors such as diabetes and lung, bladder and skin cancers.

I don't know what that smells like, but I think I'll stay with my own nose, thanks.

Re:Who would want a nose that sensitive? (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25227145)

Smelling these are pretty much useless, but I wouldn't at all mind being able to smell contagious diseases like the flu, which will give me a good warning to stay away from that person. I'd rather feel crappy for a few seconds than for a few days.

Just like feeling pain - it may be annoying, but in most cases you are going to be better off than if you didn't feel its early warning.

Re:Who would want a nose that sensitive? (4, Interesting)

digitalchinky (650880) | more than 5 years ago | (#25227627)

Sort of related, I have no sense of smell, at all. I was probably close on 20 years old before that fact actually sunk in. I thought it was a sense that people learned to use, like learning to read and write, that I would figure it all out some time later in life. Not to be.

From a perspective of never having known smell, the idea of being able to do so is intriguing. At the very least it would mean I could definitively know whether I need to spend more on deodorant or less :-)

Oddly enough, I have had dreams where I can smell perfectly fine, I don't know how this state of mind compares with the real world experience though.

Re:Who would want a nose that sensitive? (1)

pomegranatesix (809489) | more than 5 years ago | (#25227823)

You're lucky. I'm a girl, and depending on what time of month it is, my sense of smell goes from pretty dull to excruciatingly sensitive.

I say excruciating, because I have the misfortune of being a biochemistry major that takes a couple of engineering classes. You have no idea how bad it is to be in a physics lab for three hours with a bunch of hygiene challenged college boys. My physics building is pretty old too, and I swear there are generations of funk built up in that stuffy little room. Think moldy Funyun factory.

Re:Who would want a nose that sensitive? (1)

Macgrrl (762836) | more than 5 years ago | (#25228913)

I see your lab and raise you public transport in the summer.

Or even working for a sales organisation where some of the sales guys are just a little too fond of aftershave - I can smell them across the building some days. Bleah.

And they think it's attractive?

Re:Who would want a nose that sensitive? (1)

TheLink (130905) | more than 5 years ago | (#25229043)

"where some of the sales guys are just a little too fond of aftershave "

They might be hygiene challenged college boys who became sales guys :).

Re:Who would want a nose that sensitive? (1)

Mr. Roadkill (731328) | more than 5 years ago | (#25229767)

And they think it's attractive?

It's probably a lot better than the alternative...

Re:Who would want a nose that sensitive? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25227909)

Smell has a large influence on taste. I'm curious, do you enjoy eating various foods?

Re:Who would want a nose that sensitive? (1)

Brain Damaged Bogan (1006835) | more than 5 years ago | (#25227919)

out of curiousity: does this lack of smell extend to your sense of taste as well? I'm no bioligist but I think I read somewhere that the two are very closely tied, which is why if something tastes horrible blocking your nose and chewing makes it far easier to swallow.

Re:Who would want a nose that sensitive? (3, Interesting)

digitalchinky (650880) | more than 5 years ago | (#25228153)

I'm quite positive it has made a huge difference to the way food tastes.

I can tell the difference between sweet, sour, and salty. If food doesn't fit into one of those categories then it doesn't have any taste, texture becomes far more important in that circumstance.

The end result is that people place me in the 'fussy' category.

Does holding my nose make any difference? None at all. :-)

I'm guessing a little, but I think when people have a cold they are pretty much experiencing what I do every day.

Re:Who would want a nose that sensitive? (1)

Cragen (697038) | more than 5 years ago | (#25231187)

My wife's mother had a major stroke about 5 years ago. (She was around 60 at the time.) She was actually given last rites (a Catholic ritual for the about-to-be-dead) after a life-flight between hospitals. Upshot of it all is that she is 98% recovered, mentally and physically. The only neurological area of her brain that seems to have been permanently affect is her sense of smell. Completely gone. Cannot sense, by smell, if meat is bad, only that it is hot, cold, or in-between. She used to enjoy cooking. Now she has had to give up that hobby. Surprisingly, she has gained a tremendous amount of weight. Life is odd, Cragen

Re:Who would want a nose that sensitive? (1)

dasunt (249686) | more than 5 years ago | (#25229237)

I'm another slashdotter with no sense of smell. Didn't realize it until late in my teens. I thought that changes in humidty and other factors were what people meant by "smell".

I hear you on the deodorant issue. I have no idea if I have bad BO or not, or if I stepped in dog crap, or if the leftovers in my fridge went bad or not.

I wouldn't mind a replacement nose.

Re:Who would want a nose that sensitive? (1)

johannesg (664142) | more than 5 years ago | (#25229699)

I used to have a sense of smell, but I lost it after ~20 years of having a blocked nose. Now I've had surgery so the blockage is gone, but the sense of smell seems to be gone forever.

Frustratingly, once in a long while I suddenly *do* smell things - just for a second, and then it disappears again. These are almost always smells that I associate with specific childhood situations (like the smell of the house of a friend where I used to play).

My sense of taste seems to be working fine, although I cannot compare against other peoples' of course. But I can distinguish all the usual tastes so that seems to be ok.

All this makes me believe the problem is purely in my head; I can smell just fine, I've just learned to ignore it completely.

Re:Who would want a nose that sensitive? (1)

SL Baur (19540) | more than 5 years ago | (#25230039)

Sort of related, I have no sense of smell, at all. I was probably close on 20 years old before that fact actually sunk in.

None, at all? I have a weak sense of smell as judged by criticisms of an ex-wife, but I can still smell things if they're strong enough. The time my dog delighted himself in rolling around a field fertilized by something very close to pure crap and I carried him home[1] to get him cleaned up, I knew he stunk, but my ex-wife burned the clothes I had been wearing and I ended up bathing 3 or 4 times before she was satisfied.

I have a relatively weak sense of taste too. A real break through will be when someone can devise standardized tests like they do now with vision to determine the strength or weakness of other senses.

[1] He loved and protected the kids. Things are different in provincial Mindanao and a four-legged body guard that I had trained was most convenient.

Re:Who would want a nose that sensitive? (1)

VeNoM0619 (1058216) | more than 5 years ago | (#25233033)

From my understanding smell is like taste. They say that by holding your nose, you couldn't tell the difference between an onion and an apple (besides the textures) although I have not tested this, I just remember learning it in school.

Curious question: do you have a sense of taste too? Do people say you have an "odd" sense of taste?

Although there are times where something smells bad but tastes good... and obviously vice versa, but most the time it seems to be: smells good, tastes good. But I believe that's an acquired feeling, since I remember things smelling bad until I taste them, then somehow appreciating the smell and enjoying it.

Re:Who would want a nose that sensitive? (1)

RespekMyAthorati (798091) | more than 5 years ago | (#25235395)

From my understanding smell is like taste. They say that by holding your nose, you couldn't tell the difference between an onion and an apple ...

Not true: vapors from the food will pass up the back of the throat and trigger the smell receptors anyway. But, the dead taste of things when you have a bad cold is true, since nasal tissue swelling prevents access to the smell receptors.

Re:Who would want a nose that sensitive? (1)

Grishnakh (216268) | more than 5 years ago | (#25236061)

No sense of smell at all? Very interesting. I have a question for you: can you detect noxious substances or fumes, such as paint thinner, gasoline, etc.?

My sense of smell isn't very acute, but it is very useful being able to detect things like that, since these vapors are after all very poisonous, and dangerous to breathe in in any quantity.

Re:Who would want a nose that sensitive? (1)

Limburgher (523006) | more than 5 years ago | (#25236551)

I've lost most of mine over the past 30 years, probably due to a long string of allergy medications, including sprays. Sometimes it's not just anosmia, though, sometimes I get pseudonosmia, though, where I smell things that aren't there. It's really fun explaining to your wife and kids that the reason daddy isn't eating and is sitting there looking ready to toss his cookies has nothing to do with the fabulous dinner mommy just made, but with the smell of old ashtrays that is overpowering daddy's trashed olfactory infrastructure, despite the fact that daddy hasn't been in the presence of an ashtray in 5 years.

Good times.

Re:Who would want a nose that sensitive? (1)

kannibal_klown (531544) | more than 5 years ago | (#25249221)

Same here, I was into my teens before it truly sunk in and I accepted it. I mean, how do you notice an absence of something, specifically if it doesn't impede anything you do.

I've read other accounts where people don't really realize it until they're older, either because they never had it.

Being a young kid was no help. Face it, as a young kid the only time a "smell" comes up is when someone would pass gas. And all of the kids' reactions wouldn't start until the first person would blurt out "oh my God who farted?" It was as if they were just reacting to the comment and not some "odor."

So as I got older I would just nod and agree when someone would say "food A smells good" or "mystery substance B stinks" or "do you like the smell of my perfume?"

I never really thought too much about it until I got older, and when I mentioned it to my parents they didn't think I was serious.

I honestly don't think they fully believed me until there was an incident with the gas-stove and I didn't know that it was leaking gas.

good nose! (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25226985)

This will be great for Michael Jackson

Obligatory nose joke (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25226997)

"My dog has no nose."

"How does he smell?"

"Awful!"

Re:Obligatory nose joke (0)

Kamineko (851857) | more than 5 years ago | (#25227075)

Oh nose!

People should still be careful (5, Funny)

loftwyr (36717) | more than 5 years ago | (#25226999)

Most people don't realize just how important the olfactory senses are. They're responsible for taste, not just smell and people should be careful that they don't assume the new technology can replace it.

In short: you only get one nose, don't blow it.

Re:People should still be careful (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25227137)

But... but... what if I have a cold?

Re:People should still be careful (1)

c_forq (924234) | more than 5 years ago | (#25227295)

I always hear this, but it always baffles me. I have almost no sense of smell. I can smell, but it has to be a very powerful oder, or practically in my nose. When people ask "Do you smell that?" my answer is, more often than not, "No". However I have a very keen sense of taste. What gives?

Re:People should still be careful (1)

camperdave (969942) | more than 5 years ago | (#25228339)

Maybe your sense of taste isn't as keen as you think it is.

Re:People should still be careful (1)

c_forq (924234) | more than 5 years ago | (#25229061)

I've considered that, but my sense of taste seems to be better than almost all my peers (all of which have a better sense of smell than me). When younger I attributed it to that (possibly false) idea that if one sense is dampened the others senses are stronger. However I think it could be that my palette is more discriminating of texture, but that still strikes me as a far fetch.

Re:People should still be careful (1)

pnutjam (523990) | more than 5 years ago | (#25244587)

Sounds like someone is a supertaster [wikipedia.org] .

Re:People should still be careful (1)

c_forq (924234) | more than 5 years ago | (#25250421)

Thanks a ton for pointing me to that wiki page. I dislike everything listed for problem foods (with the exception of a few alcoholic beverages), and now will have to look more into this. Thanks again!

Re:People should still be careful (1)

pnutjam (523990) | more than 5 years ago | (#25250843)

My wife is a super-taster. She says this is an easy test:

eat something really sweet, like a spoonful of sugar, then immediately taste something with aspartame in it, like diet coke. She says it tastes bitter to super tasters, not sweet.

Re:People should still be careful (1)

Tubal-Cain (1289912) | more than 5 years ago | (#25229289)

According to other people, I am in a similar situation. I think I can smell just fine, but people around me will be floored by odors I don't notice until someone brings attention to it.

Re:People should still be careful (1)

geschild (43455) | more than 5 years ago | (#25230011)

"In short: you only get one nose, don't blow it."

It's only funny if you're not addicted to blow... ;D

hmmm (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25227043)

this smells fishy...

Yea, ol' Kike Thomas thought it smelt fishy too (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25231037)

And his Jew nose pokes rectum most of the time, so he's so keen he could sense this topic before the slashdot editor even began to type it. Maybe it's a Digg or Fark type of sensation? Slashdot never gave me any abilities since patronizing this festering manshit hole back in 1997. Give me back my 11 years, CmdrTaco Fent felcher!

Anonymous (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25227045)

It won't be long until you will have an odoriferous module to connect to your computer, so you can smell the enemy coming up behind you in you fav game, even if you can't hear him.

It is a good thing (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25227085)

that these scientists also invented artificial asses to calibrate them.

More portable than a dog (2, Interesting)

Web Design Guy (1376421) | more than 5 years ago | (#25227221)

Dogs are known to be able to sense illness in humans and I guess their extreme sense of smell plays a part. This is an interesting development - more portable than a dog and able to report what is being smelled (as opposed to 'woof' or a wagging tail).

Re:More portable than a dog (1)

TheLink (130905) | more than 5 years ago | (#25229071)

Benefits of an artificial nose over a dog
1) It probably doesn't get bored as fast.
2) you can buy a replacement without having to train it for months.
3) the original and replacement work within known specs.

Dogs are probably more fun to play with though :).

Re:More portable than a dog (1)

SL Baur (19540) | more than 5 years ago | (#25230087)

Benefits of an artificial nose over a dog ...

Disadvantages:
1) An artificial nose will never go on walks with you.
2) An artificial nose will never jump up and down and all over you when you go near him and he hasn't seen you in a few minutes.
3) An artificial nose cannot walk your children to school and find his way home on his own.

Dogs are probably more fun to play with though :).

Yup.

Re:More portable than a dog (1)

RespekMyAthorati (798091) | more than 5 years ago | (#25235435)

Benefits of an artificial nose over a dog ...

Disadvantages: 1) An artificial nose will never go on walks with you. 2) An artificial nose will never jump up and down and all over you when you go near him and he hasn't seen you in a few minutes. 3) An artificial nose cannot walk your children to school and find his way home on his own.

Dogs are probably more fun to play with though :).

Yup.

On the other hand, artificial noses don't create bad smells.

Bug in initial version. Everything smells like ass (0)

syousef (465911) | more than 5 years ago | (#25227305)

First recipient of the nose, Marbic Shnauzer, fainted when the nose was first switched on. Scientists revealed a bug in the software made everything smell like ass. Mr Shnauzer said "I took one wiff of my own and and the smell was just too much. You try smelling ass after 5 years of nothing and see if you can take it!". Initial reports that a bored coder programmed this bug in on purpose were denied.

Five senses? (2, Informative)

Maxmin (921568) | more than 5 years ago | (#25227331)

The MIT RealNose project seeks to recreate the most complex and least-understood of the six senses, smell.

You forgot the kinesthetic senses, like acceleration, and the primary vestibular sense organ, the cochlea. Everybody forgets that one.

Six senses? (1)

Roger W Moore (538166) | more than 5 years ago | (#25228283)

You forgot the kinesthetic senses, like acceleration, and the primary vestibular sense organ, the cochlea. Everybody forgets that one.

You forgot common sense, the primary sense function of the brain. Everybody forgets that one...well at least bankers on Wall Street seem to.

Re:Five senses? (1)

Macgrrl (762836) | more than 5 years ago | (#25228933)

Unless you happen to be a chronic motion-sickness sufferer.

Re:Five senses? (1)

TheLink (130905) | more than 5 years ago | (#25229091)

There's also being able to sense the position where your limbs are.

That's pretty important. Some people without that sense can still learn to walk, but if you switch the lights off, they could collapse.

Then there's the sense of hunger and fullness, thirst vs too much water.

Plenty of other important senses.

I'm glad the nose got picked for the front page. (2, Funny)

josteos (455905) | more than 5 years ago | (#25227379)

Most folks might think it' snot really important, but I think it's important enough for /. to runny it up front.

Tycho Brahe had one on those 440 years ago (1)

John Hasler (414242) | more than 5 years ago | (#25227395)

Tycho's nose [wikipedia.org]

Not that important (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25227403)

I lost my sense of smell in a head injury 5 years ago. My sense of taste was not affected.

Contrary to what you might think, I don't miss it much. In fact, in the city, most smells are bad. I'd say the situations where I am aware that I am not sensing a bad smell (cig smoke, urine, exhaust, chemicals, dog poo, etc) outnumber the ones where I am missing a good smell (flowers, perfume, dinner, the smell after rain, choc chip cookies) probably about five to one.

The worst part really is acting like I can smell things when I cannot because I don't want to be the freak.

I for one..... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25227429)

fear the creation of a race of super noses. Haven't they seen any bad Japanese SciFi films from the 60s! Just look what happened with the mutant mushrooms. Noses are truly frightening. They have no brains to shoot and no vital organs. They are perfect unstoppable killing machines. They're only weakness is the common cold.

Five senses? Bah. (0, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25227431)

the most complex and least-understood of the five senses, smell

There is only one sense, and that sense is touch. Think about it.

Re:Five senses? Bah. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25227697)

Is that what uncle badtouch told you?

Re:Five senses? Bah. (1)

Tubal-Cain (1289912) | more than 5 years ago | (#25229305)

That would depend on how vaguely you define "touch"

Re:Five senses? Bah. (1)

Ginger Unicorn (952287) | more than 5 years ago | (#25231067)

yeah, if you define "touch" as "interact", which is so vague as to render the term redundant. however if you define "touch" as mechanical pressure, then it is distinguished from the other four senses.

And let's face it, that IS how it is defined.

And yes, hearing involves mechanical pressure but it is the pattern of motion rather than just the mechanical pressure being sensed. If you poke yourself in the ear drum with a q-tip you aren't "hearing" the q-tip.

Artifical... Real... (3, Funny)

Greyfox (87712) | more than 5 years ago | (#25227531)

Does it really matter? Does not a nose by any other name still smell?

Re:Artifical... Real... (1)

Tubal-Cain (1289912) | more than 5 years ago | (#25229319)

Leave this "nose" and a normal one in plastic bags for a week or two and compare how they smell afterwards.

Well... (0, Redundant)

neokushan (932374) | more than 5 years ago | (#25227563)

Michael Jackson will be pleased.

I lost my sense of smell (3, Interesting)

mschuyler (197441) | more than 5 years ago | (#25227615)

I lost my sense of smell entirely for a couple of years. It has since returned, though not all that strongly. You don't realize what it's like unless it happens. Yeah, I could go into a barn and not be bothered and if my dog farted I didn't care, but I couldn't smell gas (the kind they sell you to heat up the stove), or anything burning, or sweat, or gasoline fumes (suggesting accompanying odorless CO), or spoilage in food that otherwise looked okay, or mildew, or that very special burning plastic stink of a hot CPU. Use your imagination for more 'exotic' issues.

It's damn dangerous to not have your sense of smell. I also lost interest in food. I couldn't understand at first why I needed more and more garlic until S.O. complained and I realized something was wrong. It sneaks up on you (just like fat!)

A couple of years later we were driving from Spokane to Seattle, a boring 300 mile trip in I-90, and my S.O. said, "You probaby can't tell this, but..."

"A skunk!" I said.

I've never been so happy to smell a skunk in my life! So I'd be happy with a plug-in replacement.

Re:I lost my sense of smell (1)

TheLink (130905) | more than 5 years ago | (#25229117)

Apparently post-coital prolactin is linked with the growth of new brain cells that move to the olfactory bulb.

e.g. more orgasms might help improve your sense of smell faster.

The latter has not been scientifically verified, YMMV etc.

Could we combine other new tech with it? (1)

Taibhsear (1286214) | more than 5 years ago | (#25227749)

Like that new portable scanner seen previously on slashdot [slashdot.org] so I can finally live my dream of owning a real tricorder? And most likely subsequently be devoured by a strange new lifeform due to the entity's attraction to my red shirt...

Re:Could we combine other new tech with it? (1)

Patrik_AKA_RedX (624423) | more than 5 years ago | (#25229895)

And most likely subsequently be devoured by a strange new lifeform due to the entity's attraction to my red shirt...

Be warned that if you happen to be dumb enough te wear a red shirt while using startrek-like technology and get killed, you will be nominated for a Darwin Award.

Drug detection more likely (1)

lagomorpha2 (1376475) | more than 5 years ago | (#25227937)

"to develop a portable microfluidic device that can identify various smells, including diseases with unique odors, such as diabetes and cancers." Given who has money right now I'd say "to develop a portable microfluidic device that can identify various smells, including drugs with unique odors, such as marijuana" is more likely what we'll see first.

Re:Drug detection more likely (1)

RespekMyAthorati (798091) | more than 5 years ago | (#25235495)

Given who has money right now I'd say "to develop a portable microfluidic device that can identify various smells, including drugs with unique odors, such as marijuana" is more likely what we'll see first.

And anyone who smells "black" or "Muslim" or "foreigner".

I've been waiting for this... (2, Interesting)

Datamonstar (845886) | more than 5 years ago | (#25227997)

Ever since I read Hong on the Range [williamfwu.com] . Smellin Llewellyn was my favorite villan. He's basically an outlaw with a cybernetic nose implant that allows him to track anything with the faintest scent. Comes in pretty handy on the cyber-frontier. God I loved that book.

Odo (1)

Mathness (145187) | more than 5 years ago | (#25228359)

A comment was overheard from Odo aboard DS9 "finally I can get a decent looking nose".

Checking Cell Structure... (1)

Directrix1 (157787) | more than 5 years ago | (#25228631)

Cell structure has been checked.

This will also be used.. (1)

shiftless (410350) | more than 5 years ago | (#25229109)

I guarantee the first application of this will be used to detect the scent of marijuana. The device will be used to throw even more victims in our overcrowded jails/prisons to rot, ruining lives forever, all in the name of the "War on Drugs(tm)" i.e. war on a harmless plant. The good news is, when the revolution comes the victims will have the last laugh as the law enforcement officials, legislators, judges, etc responsible for its abuse are shot/hanged/imprisoned or otherwise disposed of.

Re:This will also be used.. (1)

lagomorpha2 (1376475) | more than 5 years ago | (#25229557)

Beat you to it...

I won't RTFA (1)

museumpeace (735109) | more than 5 years ago | (#25229209)

because a certain scene from Woody Allen's Sleeper has been called to mind in my mental screening room and I must wait until it is done playing.

Next up: The Smelloscope! (1)

Katatsumuri (1137173) | more than 5 years ago | (#25229227)

This development can potentially allow us to observe the outside world in new and unusual ways, possibly beyond restoring the common smell sense.

Aside from Futurama jokes, imagine being able to literally smell a good or bad sample in data processing, etc.

At SETI research lab: "Look Joe, this is a funny-smelling star system, if I ever saw one!"

Re:Next up: The Smelloscope! (1)

lagomorpha2 (1376475) | more than 5 years ago | (#25229751)

What about using it as a smell amplifier? Just imagine being able to smell things 1000x stronger than they actually are! Ok on second thought that might not be such a good idea.

Re:Next up: The Smelloscope! (1)

SL Baur (19540) | more than 5 years ago | (#25230195)

imagine being able to literally smell a good or bad sample in data processing, etc.

I never wanted to be a programmer. Never. In the fields I tried first in college (Physics and Electronics) I had absolutely no intuition when it came down to dealing with harder stuff. Programming though, is different for me. I can walk into a large scale project to firefight, read a little source code to get a bit of understanding of what's going on, ask some questions and get straight to the real problem fairly quickly. I can't explain it other than the brain works differently for different people.

And speaking of smell and for all the Emacs/XEmacs haters if you have used Neutrogena shampoos, soaps, etc. since 1995+ that was my code mixing the ingredients together in the factory. I don't know if they replaced the system after 2000, but it was Y2K proof.

Send in the clowns (0)

argent (18001) | more than 5 years ago | (#25230935)

My first thought: happy shiny red rubber artificial noses!

We're here to check on the nose... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25232231)

We heard that it is running. [imdb.com]

  • Miles: Don't take another step or the president gets it between the eyes.

Smellhounds, hospitals and geeking out on eNoses (1)

sloaner (1376789) | more than 5 years ago | (#25233009)

If you want to geek out on eNoses, there is a lot of information out there. The article referenced above doesnâ(TM)t get into much detail, but there are basically three different techniques that are commonly used: mass spectrometry, used by companies like Torion [slashdot.org] , gas chromotography, used by companies like Seacoast Science, Inc [slashdot.org] , and some of the newer systems use optical sensor systems, used by QualSec [slashdot.org] . Of these I like the optical sensors the best, because some of them can detect in the parts per Billion, or even parts per Trillion! Take that smellhound!

The best academic source on eNoses and future trends, which is pretty approachable, is available from the American Chemical Society [slashdot.org] . It includes a summary of the different approaches and applications, like for disease diagnosis, environmental monitoring and use with the food and beverage industry. Coming soon to a supermarket/hospital/factory/Superfund site near you!

Re:Smellhounds, hospitals and geeking out on eNose (1)

sloaner (1376789) | more than 5 years ago | (#25233091)

Bah! My links didn't work. Here they are: Torion: http://www.torion.com/ [torion.com] Seacoast Science: http://www.seacoastscience.com/ [seacoastscience.com] QualSec: http://www.qualsensors.com/ [qualsensors.com] American Chemical Society article: http://pubs.acs.org/cgi-bin/sample.cgi/chreay/2008/108/i02/html/cr068121q.html [acs.org] Maybe these won't work either. But I tried!

Buddy from college... (1)

BigGar' (411008) | more than 5 years ago | (#25233095)

married a girl with a severely diminished sense of smell. Perfect girl for him, as his diet was horrendous and he produced fumes that, a!@%$^(*!@

I'm stroking out just thinking about 'em, you get the idea..

Science (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25233199)

smells like the future

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