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Identifying People By Odor As Effective As Fingerprinting

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

Science 157

A study has found that everybody has a unique body odor, like their fingerprints, that could be used as an unique identifier. The study showed that a persons unique odor stayed the same even if they varied their diet with strong smelling foods such as garlic and spices. "These findings indicate that biologically-based odorprints, like fingerprints, could be a reliable way to identify individuals," said Monell chemist Jae Kwak. I would have thought that hundreds of years of dogs tracking people would have proved this, but it's nice to know that science has figured it out officially now.

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157 comments

Why? (4, Insightful)

Facegarden (967477) | more than 5 years ago | (#25730543)

Why is this even Idle? This is actually somewhat interesting.... I hate Idle, Btw.
-Taylor

Obviously... (4, Funny)

Xenographic (557057) | more than 5 years ago | (#25730569)

It's on Idle because this idea was invented by Shampoo.

Re:Obviously... (1)

JavaBasedOS (1217930) | more than 5 years ago | (#25730851)

Shampoo is pa-... Wait, you almost had me there. Nice try.

Re:Obviously... (1)

Aphoxema (1088507) | more than 5 years ago | (#25730949)

What would Shampoo do?

Re:Obviously... (5, Interesting)

wclacy (870064) | more than 5 years ago | (#25731319)

Do identical twins put off the same odor?

Re:Obviously... (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25731539)

That depends on the amount of beans.

At least down below (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25732135)

Having slept with quite a few, I can tell you that their vag's certainly smell similiar.

Re:Obviously... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25732987)

Do identical twins put off the same odor?

Give me a week and I'll find out for you. However, my study group will only consist of women age 20-30. Will that do?

Re:Obviously... (3, Informative)

theaveng (1243528) | more than 5 years ago | (#25731719)

I agree.

TRIVIA - Smelling people can also reveal your mate. A quick whiff allows the body to detect a person's genetic makeup, and we feel attracted to those with genes opposite to ours.

The use of deodorants and birth control pills can disrupt this natural process (your mate's smell is masked or changed).

Re:Obviously... (1)

rav0 (983195) | more than 5 years ago | (#25731915)

Except she won't get near enough to pick up your scent if your BO drives her away first.

Re:Obviously... (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25732039)

Huh?

Re:Obviously... (1)

Whiteox (919863) | more than 5 years ago | (#25732121)

It's on Idle because this idea was invented by Shampoo.
Stasi - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stasi [wikipedia.org]
East-German Secret Police

"During an interview the seats were covered with a cotton sheet, to collect the perspiration of the victim. His name was written in a glass and the sheet was kept in the archives. Other common ways that the scents would be collected is through breaking into a home and taking parts of garments. The most common garment taken was underpants, because of how close the garment is to the skin".

They cataloged thousands of scents. They had all these weird theories. Looks like they've been proven right.

Re:Why? (1, Funny)

Aphoxema (1088507) | more than 5 years ago | (#25730945)

I was about to say something like that. This does have quite a bit of relevance to forensic examination, biometrics, chilling effects, avenues for technology, it's practically a topic for Slashdot paradise. I'm sure Microsoft will find a way to, dare I say it... stick their noses in it?

Re:Why? (4, Funny)

Dan541 (1032000) | more than 5 years ago | (#25731001)

My dog already knew and understood this, that does not speak well for science.

Re:Why? (1)

laejoh (648921) | more than 5 years ago | (#25731129)

Ok, I'll risk running into Godwin but:

My dog has no nose, you insensitive clod!

Re:Why? (1)

digitig (1056110) | more than 5 years ago | (#25731433)

My dog has no nose

Jamaica?

Re:Why? (1)

Tony Hoyle (11698) | more than 5 years ago | (#25731575)

Then how does it smell?

Re:Why? (3, Funny)

lanswitch (705539) | more than 5 years ago | (#25731895)

awful.

Re:Why? (1)

Tronks (892783) | more than 5 years ago | (#25731503)

Even I have a couple of friends I can uniquely identify by their... ahem... odor.

Re:Why? (2, Funny)

RulerOf (975607) | more than 5 years ago | (#25732811)

If they're your friends, at least you like those people.

I've got co-workers.

Re:Why? (1)

philspear (1142299) | more than 5 years ago | (#25731155)

I hate Idle, Btw.

Yet you continue to read it... interesting...

Re:Why? (1)

bain_online (580036) | more than 5 years ago | (#25731657)

I hate Idle, Btw.

Yet you continue to read it... interesting...

You must be new here

Re:Why? (2, Funny)

sqldr (838964) | more than 5 years ago | (#25732143)

I hate Idle, Btw.

Try running this then:

#!/bin/sh

while true; do
fork
done

Anonymous Coward (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25730545)

PSOT FRITST

Oh... (1, Insightful)

Facegarden (967477) | more than 5 years ago | (#25730551)

And one more thing... Trying to make Idle legitimate by putting real articles on it too is lame. Put real articles where they belong, banish idle to hell.
-Taylor

Re:Oh... (5, Insightful)

Skrapion (955066) | more than 5 years ago | (#25730619)

You people. First you complain that Idle isn't any good, and now you're complaining that it shouldn't be any good?

Re:Oh... (1)

MindlessAutomata (1282944) | more than 5 years ago | (#25730661)

Well, if idle has good articles what's the difference between Idle and not-Idle...?

Additionally, if Idle isn't any good, then most people think it's a waste. No contradiction here.

Re:Oh... (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25730737)

Well, if idle has good articles what's the difference between Idle and not-Idle...?

Possibly the fact that replying "I'm surprised at this result because when I eat chocolate or drink coffee my urine smells heavily of cacao beans" is a legitimate non-trollish response to this Idle post, whereas it would not be received the same way in most other stories.

More straightforward, though, I think the anti-Idle sect is based largely on misguided dogma rather than the value of Idle or their anti-Idle viewpoint. "Idleispants" is a cool meme to hear from an attractive chick, but it's rather lame as an auto-response to all Idle articles - which is how it is used, generally. The fact that many recent "Ask Slashdot" articles about technical issues were ragged on as much as Idle articles just adds to my feelings that many /. users are simply stuck in very narrow views of what slashdot is supposed to be about - which, as far as I can tell, is consisting of a nerd-oriented version of Google News that often displays summaries that have poor grammar and spelling.

Re:Oh... (1)

fbjon (692006) | more than 5 years ago | (#25731981)

j"ust adds to my feelings that many /. users are simply stuck in very narrow views of what slashdot is supposed to be about"

I find it interesting that most of the users who complain about idle never have low uids. Not that a high uid necessarily implies a new user, but still. Most importantly, as registered users they can turn idle off completely, so WTF is all I'm saying.

Re:Oh... (1)

Aphoxema (1088507) | more than 5 years ago | (#25730961)

Well, if idle has good articles what's the difference between Idle and not-Idle...?

An overabundance of free time and an inability to occupy it with anything meaningful.

Re:Oh... (1)

digitalchinky (650880) | more than 5 years ago | (#25731491)

Who's free time would that be exactly?

Re:Oh... (3, Insightful)

Facegarden (967477) | more than 5 years ago | (#25730869)

You people. First you complain that Idle isn't any good, and now you're complaining that it shouldn't be any good?

No, I'm complaining that there is already a section for this article, it's called "Science", and that i feel people are artificially putting this in the wrong category to make it seem more legitimate.

The idea behind the idle section is to have articles that are sort of pointless - that's just the point, i'm not ragging on it. Thing is, i don't like that idea, i think it's stupid.
-Taylor

Re:Oh... (2, Interesting)

Skrapion (955066) | more than 5 years ago | (#25730895)

They've also been using the section for "oddball" stories, of which this clearly fits.

In fact, with the exception of a few YouTube videos that showed up early in the life of Idle, most of the stuff posted in Idle that's made it to the front page is stuff that would have been posted on Slashdot anyway, but under a different category.

Re:Oh... (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 5 years ago | (#25732305)

How is this oddball at all? It's horribly obvious and has a scientific basis. That's not oddball, it's Science, and as others have pointed out, there is already such a section. Thinking that this is an "oddball" discovery is about the same as thinking that knowing that the earth is not flat is an "oddball" discovery, and only labels you as a provincial putz. Is it "weird" because it has to do with body odor, with which Americans are inordinately uncomfortable?

Re:Oh... (3, Insightful)

RulerOf (975607) | more than 5 years ago | (#25732841)

While this article may be misplaced, I'd say that while regular /. stories are "News for Nerds, Stuff that Matters," Idle /. could be considered "News for Nerds, Stuff that Doesn't Matter," but that you still might find interesting.

Re:Oh... (1)

Isotopian (942850) | more than 5 years ago | (#25731221)

Hup! What do you mean, you people?!

What porn site did that picture come from? (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25730553)

i need to know

Re:What porn site did that picture come from? (3, Informative)

wickerprints (1094741) | more than 5 years ago | (#25731211)

It's from a National Geographic article from like 15 years ago, about the science of smell. The notable thing about this photo is that all the "smellers" are female--this is because in general, women tend to be more sensitive to smell, and besides, men probably don't want other men smelling their pits.

Re:What porn site did that picture come from? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25733277)

Yes but why are all the smell-ees male? I've known some stanky women!

farts (4, Funny)

u4ya (1248548) | more than 5 years ago | (#25730565)

each persons' fart has its own unique flavor too. although I don't envy the poor bastard who has to test this theory.

Re:farts (1)

xtracto (837672) | more than 5 years ago | (#25731957)

don't envy the poor bastard who has to test this theory.
Somehow... relating the idle picture with your comment made my mind eyes cry... blood tears. ...you insensitive clod!

first post (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25730571)

I welcome our new armpit sniffing overlords!

Re:first post (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25730797)

I also, but not on Monday morning !!

finger prints arent that unique! (3, Interesting)

TheSovereign (1317091) | more than 5 years ago | (#25730587)

the idea that fingerprints are unique is stupid, especially for anyone who is actually in law enforcement or forensics. you need 12 count it TWELVE different points of matching to even get a fingerprint submitted for evidence. so if this odor is just as effective that means its pretty much a scare tactic as much as "we got your fingerprints at the scene!" is

Re:finger prints arent that unique! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25730787)

That doesn't mean that fingerprints aren't unique, just that they can often be similar. It doesn't matter how many points it takes to do the matching. The count of points really just a way of representing resolution; all you're saying is that fingerprint matching requires high-resolution prints to be conclusive.

Re:finger prints arent that unique! (5, Informative)

Y.A.A.P. (1252040) | more than 5 years ago | (#25730919)

the idea that fingerprints are unique is stupid, especially for anyone who is actually in law enforcement or forensics. you need 12 count it TWELVE different points of matching to even get a fingerprint submitted for evidence. so if this odor is just as effective that means its pretty much a scare tactic as much as "we got your fingerprints at the scene!" is

I wouldn't call it stupid, just incorrect when all possibilities are tried.

Aside from genetically-identical twins, there are a rare few known cases where people do have matching fingerprints (it's been awhile since I read the article but I seem to recall a resolution of around a thousand comparison points in one such case). However, with the incredibly low occurrence rate for this duplication, fingerprints still reign as the current top method for human identity verification (DNA matching takes alot more time and still isn't 100% accurate).

The article and summary are misleading, as well. This study was only performed on mice, not humans. There is additional doubt introduced from the lack of description of the experimental procedure. If the mice weren't separated long enough after the diet change, then a sufficient amount of the recognized scent may have remained for the other mice to make correct identifications.

The comment about dogs in the summary may be incorrect as well, but I don't really know. I have never read about any studies that tried to have a dog track a person from a previous scent marker after they've undergone a radical diet change and sufficient time for the body to remove the chemical traces of the old diet. They usually give dogs an item that someone has used recently in order to track them by scent.

I do know two things from my personal experiences as a person with a strong sense of smell:

1. In favor of the results that the articles puts forward as 'fact' - without perfumes, colognes, other scented body products or even any noticeable sweat; a woman definitely smells different than a man.

2. Disagreeing with the postulate from the results of the study - How best to put this delicately? The scent of certain subsets of people that stereotypically consume specific diets does indeed match scents from those diets when their scent becomes strong enough.

Of course, I'm not a canine, so regardless of my personal experience, there may indeed be elements of a person's scent that are as unique as their DNA. Actually, if a dog's sense of smell is advanced enough, their olfactory processing could be doing on-the-fly DNA matching. Though, I've never seen someone even postulate a study that could confirm that little bit of information.

I do agree with a couple of the other comments so far. This news has enough merit to be under a section other than Idle.

Re:finger prints arent that unique! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25731449)

My query for the future would be whether or not body odors would be particularly susceptible to hostile interception or replication. This would be critical in considering odor as a medium for biometric authentication. Obviously, anyone with direct access to a person's body (or some part thereof) could satisfy a theoretical "sniffer." Also, it's not unlikely that certain objects (clothing, chairs, cell phones, pocket lint, dollar bills, bathwater, and on and on) would retain enough of someone's personal aroma to satisfy a sensor. To extrapolate, I can see it at least being possible that odors could be "lifted" for later use, either by mechanical means or with a chemical agent. I have utterly no idea how feasible it might be to replicate trace amounts of a person's odors to produce a satisfactory sample for the sniffer without supplying an article directly taken from the person; my gut says any replication process would be harder than simply stealing a pair of someone's dirty socks (just one missing sock tends to get noticed, after all).

It seems like a mixed bag. Someone paranoid can avoid leaving fingerprints in most situations by any number of means; I can't really see a good way to avoid leaving trace amounts of body oil on various surfaces. On the other hand, high-quality fingerprints are regularly left in places outside of people's control; viable odor samples might be a little harder to steal for later use. Then again, I'm already dreading a future movie plot focused on stealing some bank president's undies to open the vault...is it too much to hope that it will be a female bank president?

Re:finger prints arent that unique! (1)

Aphoxema (1088507) | more than 5 years ago | (#25730995)

If it's comparable to fingerprints, and if fingerprints are already cross-referenced with DNA, iris and voice patterns, psychological profiles, and many other personally identifying traits of someone, then what does that do when you add odor to the list of what makes a person a person?

Re:finger prints arent that unique! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25731147)

these are the few of the core elements which make up the ghost in the shell...

Re:finger prints arent that unique! (2, Interesting)

Detritus (11846) | more than 5 years ago | (#25731689)

I sat through a trial in which the defense lawyer undertook a long cross-examination of the prosecution's finger print expert. I wasn't too impressed with the expert, who said that there were no standards for declaring a match. Her qualifications for the job was that she had been doing it for many years. She might be really good at her job, but the whole business struck me as slip-shod and lacking rigor.

Two (1)

RockMFR (1022315) | more than 5 years ago | (#25730603)

Two - the number of consecutive stories on Idle posted by samzenpus that have been about smell.

If the title of the next Idle story isn't "Silent But Deadly", I'm going to be incredibly disappointed.

So what happens (1)

CSMatt (1175471) | more than 5 years ago | (#25730611)

when one wears deodorant or perfume? Does the smell go away?

Re:So what happens (1)

PyroMosh (287149) | more than 5 years ago | (#25730993)

No.

A good analogy is having a conversation in a crowded room with lots of other conversations going on at once. Your voice doesn't go away just because it is mixed with other sounds. But at a certain point, it will become hard to distinguish from the rest.

The important difference is that humans are better at pinpointing one sound out of many. We are relatively bad at doing the same with scent.

Dogs (and other animals), however are great at this. That's how scent-tracking works, and it's how drug or bomb sniffing dogs are able to find targets that have been "masked" by other scents.

For instance: A drug smuggler is trying to conceal a quantity of cocaine to cross the border with. He knows that he may have to deal with drug sniffing dogs, so he puts the drugs in baggies and then covers those baggies in garlic oil, or another strong scent. Feeling confident, he figures the dogs can't smell through that!

But it doesn't work like that. The dog smells the garlic AND the cocaine. The same way you or I would hear the lyrics AND the guitar AND the piano AND the drums in a song.

Re:So what happens (1)

fbjon (692006) | more than 5 years ago | (#25732065)

What might work is a strong air freshener, since they partially work by numbing smell receptors.

Dogs vs. Control groups (4, Insightful)

jonaskoelker (922170) | more than 5 years ago | (#25730639)

I would have thought that hundreds of years of dogs tracking people would have proved this, but it's nice to know that science has figured it out officially now.

.
First of all, tracking is not identifying. Second of all, if two people have the same scent but non-overlapping movement paths, you can successfully track the one whose path you're on, so ability to track is not a very pure way of measuring smell-based distinguishability. Thirdly, dogs probably have vastly different ability levels for tracking by smell vs. tracking by fingerprint due to the two leaving different amounts of trail material. Fourthly throughout these years, have comparisons been made between smell-dogs and print-dogs? And fifthly, just because the market uses dogs to track on smell doesn't mean it's the best way to even track people: there may be market inertia factors and/or cost/benefit ratios that favor using smelling dogs.
.
Science has not figured out that hunting by smell works. They've found out that odors are better than fingerprints for identifying people. If it had gone the other way, should we all go and replace our dogs? No, they probably work best in practice, due to better hardware support for the odor-based tracking.

You are waaay overthinking this (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25730867)

His hypothesis: "Based on experience with the capability of dogs to track individual people by smell, we should have already known that people have unique odors that could be used for identification.

Your (attempted) rebuttal:

First of all, tracking is not identifying.

Irrelevant. A dog tracks by smell by identifying the odor, if not the person. They are given an object that contains the odor of the person they are tracking, and then proceed to follow that odor. They're not looking for random tracking clues, as a human tracker would.

Second of all, if two people have the same scent but non-overalapping movement paths, you can successfully track the one whose path you're on.

However, since tracking dogs are capable of following a particular person among others that have traveled the same path, we can correctly determine that humans are not likely to share a particular odor.

Thirdly, dogs probably have vastly different ability levels for tracking by smell vs. tracking by fingerprint...

There aren't multiple definitions of "unique". As long as body odor can be shown to be "unique" you can compare them to fingerprints without having to resort to the same measuring method. You don't need to have dog fingerprint-trackers, if he could have proved from the data provided by dog trackers that body odors are unique, the case would have been automatically proven.

In fact, if you proved that dogs suck at identifying fingerprints (probably not difficult to do), you have not proven that fingerprints are less unique than body odors. You haven't even proven that it is more difficult to track by fingerprints than by odor. All you have proven is that dogs suck at tracking by fingerprints.

Fourthly, throughout these years, have comparisons been made between smell-dogs and print-dogs

That's the same point as your third-point, really.

And fifthly, just because the market uses dogs to track on smell doesn't mean it's the best way to even track people: there may be market inertia factors and/or cost/benefit ratios that favor using smelling dogs.

Doesn't need to be the best. If it is possible to follow one particular person by their particular body odor alone among a path where a large enough sample of other people have also left their odor traces behind, you have proven that the body odor is unique. As you yourself have stated, tracking is not identifying. Even if there are better ways to track, as long as you can distinguish one among all the others, you have proven the uniqueness.

Real rebuttal:

Dogs have problems tracking people if they shower and change clothes, indicating that they may not be tracking them by a particular biological odor, but possibly by odors of things that the person was in contact with. Further testing is needed to determine this: specifically, can a dog track a person through the smell a person left in their clothes a month ago? Especially if the person changed their day-to-day activities and diet.

Dogs suck at tracking people in urban environments. They can do a ridiculously good job in the country, but put them in downtown New York and they lose the scent immediately. That would indicate that the odor is either not unique, or that dogs are not capable of detecting the subtle differences.

Re:You are waaay overthinking this (1)

wickerprints (1094741) | more than 5 years ago | (#25731247)

"Dogs suck at tracking people in urban environments. They can do a ridiculously good job in the country, but put them in downtown New York and they lose the scent immediately. That would indicate that the odor is either not unique, or that dogs are not capable of detecting the subtle differences."

Or it could just mean that other smells and stimuli compete for the dog's attention, masking the scent to be tracked. Urban environments are filled with all kinds of odors, noises, and pollution. This probably plays as much a role in tracking as the actual distinctiveness of a smell itself.

Re:Dogs vs. Control groups (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25731051)

What are you even saying? Maybe mod funny? or confusing?

Tag: notsayingmuch (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25730643)

Someone needs to tag this 'notsayingmuch'.

Old hat (0, Redundant)

nilbog (732352) | more than 5 years ago | (#25730687)

Anyone who is familiar with dogs should have already known this for at least a couple centuries.

ATTN: World Governments (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25730693)

No longer will you have to coerce your citizens into accepting fingerprint biometric IDs.

I give to you: the Scratch 'n' Sniff passport.

Sarah? (0, Flamebait)

spintriae (958955) | more than 5 years ago | (#25730729)

I would have thought that hundreds of years of dogs tracking people would have proved this

Hundreds of years? Palin? Is that you?

What about vodka? (2, Interesting)

ShaunC (203807) | more than 5 years ago | (#25730747)

I drink a lot (a fifth of vodka every two days, on average). One of my coworkers, out of 12+, claims she can smell the hell out of it on me. I shower each morning and two different Axe products are part of my showering repertoire. While I don't doubt that I sweat out some portion of the previous night's alcohol during the course of the work day, I'm curious where the threshold is.

I put back about 375ml of vodka per night - mixed with various other beverages, typically Diet Mt. Dew, a random Gatorade, or one of Ocean Spray's delicious juices. Some nights I have no vodka, but drink 6 to 12 beers instead, depending upon the brand. And from time to time, such as last night, I'll get to sleep simply by virtue of 100mg Diphenhydramine HCl without having a drop of alcohol. This coworker swears she can still smell it, even after I've gone 48 hours and 2 or more showers since my last drink.

I suspect that certain people have unusually strong senses of smell. We know that dogs do. I hope that I don't have any offensive BO at work, and I'd doubly hope that if I did, someone would tell me about it. That only a single coworker has mentioned her ability to "smell the booze on me" makes me paranoid, but it also makes me wonder. Is she hypersensitive, or are all of my other coworkers picking up on it and just being too polite to say anything? Knowing most of my coworkers very fondly, I suspect the former.

Dogs have never liked me - or conversely, they've always liked me too much. To me, canines exhibit excessive hyperactivity. That's why I have a cat instead. She might be the boss of my house, but the only time she freaks out is when I drop some fresh catnip somewhere nearby.

Re:What about vodka? (1)

Joebert (946227) | more than 5 years ago | (#25730821)

Nah. Alcoholics definately have a distinctive smell.

When I worked at Wendys we had a guy there who had his own distinctive smell, that's why he was the designated dishwasher.

Re:What about vodka? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25730843)

She may be legitimately smelling something (women have a keener sense of smell than men), or she may be associating you with the smell of alcohol and subconsciously tricking herself into believing the smell is present even when it is not.

Re:What about vodka? (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25730891)

Actually, she may be hypersensitive and she is certainly being polite (as the rest of your coworkers are.) The "odor" she's referring to is your *two* Axe products, she just being polite by saying booze instead of your stinking body sprays, because that crap reeks worse than anything, even an old drunk. Isn't it obvious? Forty-eight hours and two showers later it's not the alcohol she smells...

Re:What about vodka? (2, Interesting)

digitalchinky (650880) | more than 5 years ago | (#25731559)

Having never had a sense of smell myself, at all, and not knowing that body odour actually even existed until I hit about 20 years of age, I'm going to have to put this down to the latter. People are far more likely to say nothing than to speak up. This includes family, close friends, acquaintances, and total strangers.

Sometimes I forget to slap on deodorant so I'll quite literally ask anyone close by if I smell bad. Trust me, nobody wants to answer that question, let alone have someone ask it. It's a loaded question in social terms. Even after letting them know my olfactory system is completely dead in the water they still stall and look confused. People simply have a hard time believing life could exist without smell, you lose your arm and it's obvious to the world, you lose your sight and this is pretty clear to nearby observers that this is the case, but smell. It's invisible.

On the dog side, I don't like them either, seems they all like me though, maybe it's body language they are picking up on.

Re:What about vodka? (1)

Tony Hoyle (11698) | more than 5 years ago | (#25731599)

I'm not sure whether mine works or not.. how would you know? People are often saying that things like roses 'smell nice' when all I can smell is that slightly damp smell that all plants smell of...

I also can't smell body odour, but I'm not convinced half the people that say they can are able to.. they're conditioned to by advertising for deoderants etc. - they see someone that looks like they haven't washed for a few days and go 'they smell' without any other evidence.

Re:What about vodka? (1)

csartanis (863147) | more than 5 years ago | (#25733109)

I'm thinking the issue is you and not everyone else. Rose flowers have a distinct smell, body odor has a distinct smell (though some are more potent than others and some dont smell at all) Deodorant advertising is not why I wear deodorant.

Re:What about vodka? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25732429)

SO I HERD U LIEK CIRRHOSIS

after fingerprint and face recognition... (1)

thesappho (1293114) | more than 5 years ago | (#25730749)

in laptops now we will have a nose on them. in order to smell maye we will have to scratch armpits or feets to them. surely it will smell them good and prevent theft :).
later we will have dna recognition and have to piss on our laptops. isn't it enough? didn't they suffer enough?

Totally True (1)

ChangelingJane (1042436) | more than 5 years ago | (#25730781)

That is, unless you take hormones or get a hormone imbalance. Then your scent can change dramatically.

in my cell, that sniffer in the foreground (1)

davidsyes (765062) | more than 5 years ago | (#25730803)

Appears to be inspecting a hiked up leg...

What isn't said is more important than what is. (1)

Jane Q. Public (1010737) | more than 5 years ago | (#25730831)

"Your unique body odor" does not change, but YOUR OVERALL SMELL does!

Notice that they carefully do not make this distinction.

Animals, including dogs, CAN be confused by confounding odors. And those odors do include things in your diet, as well as applied scents like cologne.

YOUR odor might not change... but that does not mean that your smell cannot change, or that things that rely on smell (like chemical sensors) will recognize you.

Our kind of people (1)

laejoh (648921) | more than 5 years ago | (#25730925)

Would slashdot the system right away... or would at least dos it, couting in the number of showers we take a year.

Your gait is also unique (1)

AnotherDaveB (912424) | more than 5 years ago | (#25730967)

Your gait can also be used to identify you [computing.co.uk] . Something that could more easily be added to remote surveillance than a bloodhound :-)

Re:Your gait is also unique (1)

tonytnnt (1335443) | more than 5 years ago | (#25731081)

That's true! The Minister of Silly Walks' gait is quite unique.

Stench (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25730983)

I knew a guy at uni who could be identified by smell from within 50 metres. But that was more of a stench.

Not sure about uniquely identifying (2, Informative)

2Bits (167227) | more than 5 years ago | (#25730999)

I'm not sure about odor on men (as I'm not interested in men, thank you), but odor on each woman is quite distinctive if you have intimate contact with her. That's only from personal experience (anecdote), and by no means a scientific study.

The five women I have (or had) intimate relationship with, I can distinguish each one of them with my eyes blind-folded. A woman's distinctive smell are usually from the cheek, on the neck, from behind the ear, on the lips, etc. It's definitely distinctive, but can it be used as a unique identifier, I'm not sure.

Thinking about it, each woman having a distinctive oder is quite natural, as this is the same thing as on other animals. After all these years of evolution, humans do not rely on smell anymore to mate or to find a mate, therefore, it has become less important and less obvious. But I think it's still there, if you pay attention to it.

Re:Not sure about uniquely identifying (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25731117)

The five women I have (or had) intimate relationship with, I can distinguish each one of them with my eyes blind-folded. A woman's distinctive smell are usually from the cheek, on the neck, from behind the ear, on the lips, etc. It's definitely distinctive, but can it be used as a unique identifier, I'm not sure.

I'm sure those five women would be utterly pleased to hear that you can uniquely identify each of them blindfolded. It makes them all sound like disgusting whores.

And to add to that, my CAPTCHA for posting was ADULTERY. I think that's a hint from God.

Re:Not sure about uniquely identifying (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25732327)

Maybe not of god, but a hint you are a fundy whack job at least.

Re:Not sure about uniquely identifying (1, Funny)

bytesex (112972) | more than 5 years ago | (#25731901)

Oh yeah, I agree with you one hundred percent. And apart from the cheek, the neck, behind the ear and on the lips, there was always one other place that had a very distinctive smell to it. Now what was that again ? It was something that I had to wash off vigorously with soap before returning to the wife, that's for sure. Come, help me out !

Analyse this (1)

OricAtmos48K (979353) | more than 5 years ago | (#25731039)

*fart*

My Balls (1)

blantonl (784786) | more than 5 years ago | (#25731075)

Fantastic!

Now that you guys have found my balls.... through their signature fingerprint(s), you can, well, ummmm....

Fe-Fi-Fo-Fum (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25731139)

I smell the blood of an englishman

Once you get past that stage, it gets a lot harder

old news is *so* exciting (1)

admiralfurburger (76098) | more than 5 years ago | (#25731173)

From 2007
http://blog.wired.com/defense/2007/05/2273_human_scen.html [wired.com]
From 2006:
http://www.defensetech.org/archives/002329.html [defensetech.org]

I believe the East German Stasi were doing for several decades...

Re:old news is *so* exciting (1)

KudyardRipling (1063612) | more than 5 years ago | (#25732397)

1. The Stasi set the standard for internal security
2. Fly planes into buildings to scare people into submission
3. Pass appropriate legislation
4. ???
5. Profit!

Alien 4 - Resurrection (2, Funny)

wlt (1367531) | more than 5 years ago | (#25731227)

Didn't the 4th Alien movie (the one with winona ryder) kinda show one of the problems with this?

Oh great. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25731459)

Just what we needed. More ways to pin down individuals and tie them to entries in big governmental databases. Or private databases. Are we living on planet spaceball, or what?

Idle submission process (2, Insightful)

JavaTHut (9877) | more than 5 years ago | (#25731537)

Does idle base its story submissions solely by how well the content matches up to whatever pictures they happen have lying around?

Familiar picture... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25731641)

Does anyone remember this photo from a science-experiment-at-home book published about 15 years ago? I can't remember the exact name of it but it came with a big magnetic wand attached to the binding and a moire spinner on the cover. It was one of my favorite books growing up and seeing this image just brings back the memories! I spent an hour thinking to myself "where have I SEEN that woman sniffing armpits before?"

Humans smell (1)

SpurtyBurger (1400111) | more than 5 years ago | (#25731715)

Iced ink.

Duh (1)

rav0 (983195) | more than 5 years ago | (#25731929)

Why did it take a study to find that everybody has a unique body odour? It isn't much of a discovery, did anybody actually think that we all smell exactly the same before this?

alternative title: (1)

3seas (184403) | more than 5 years ago | (#25732129)

how to genetically alter humans to smell like dogs...

Showers are for terrorists! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25732169)

Obviously the only reason someone would take a shower is to try to hide their telltale scent. Keep your eyes out for those clean terrorists.

Old theory finally proven (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25732191)

I saw a documentary that after WWII, North Germany had a warehouse full of objects used by suspects. It's not only easy to obtain, it's effective because spies can change their identities but not their body odor.

Stasi "police" of the Soviets (4, Interesting)

Decomas (1342753) | more than 5 years ago | (#25732245)

In Berlin, Germany during the cold war era, the Stasi (Big Brother Police) knew this! They could track individuals with smell. [boingboing.net] In fact they have a room FILLED with little jars of every citizens' personal smell! I've been there and seen the rooms. They had special dogs trained for this too. They would open the jar and let the dog smell some... then go out into the city and find this person, they had a good success rate too which is kind of surprising. They would even track people by spraying different pheromones on their target.

How I find things in the dark at night (1, Funny)

h4x354x0r (1367733) | more than 5 years ago | (#25732355)

sniff sniff sniff... Hi Honey!

Reliable like fingerprints? (2, Informative)

irexe (567524) | more than 5 years ago | (#25732807)

"These findings indicate that biologically-based odorprints, like fingerprints, could be a reliable way to identify individuals"

Slightly off-topic, but since when do fingerprints qualify as a reliable way to identify a person? They can easily be faked, and once they are, there's no way to revoke them. It's like having a really bad passport...

At the Airport in near future ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25732889)

I'm sorry sir, but I cant let you through. You smell fishy.

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