FIU Scientist at Forefront of Field That Smells Kind of Funny

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Bloodhound Trials Feb 2008 -79 on Flickr - Photo Sharing!.jpg
via Contadini's flickr
Sorry Bloodhounds. You might be out of a job soon.
In a not too distant future imagine passing through an already stressful airport security checkpoint and having not only your bags x-rayed, and your body patted down, but your very scent analyzed. That's a field Kenneth Furton, an FIU professor, is working at the forefront of right now.

Theoretically some sort of robot nose, for lack of a better term, could pick up otherwise unnoticeable dynamics in your scent that could determine not only your age and race, but your emotions. Of most interest at Airport check points: fear.

Theoretically, potential terrorists would give off a unique scent associated with adrenaline production and fear. Though, we have to wonder how security officials would be able to separate those evil-doers from people who are naturally afraid of flying or being enclosed in crowded spaces. We also have to wonder if terrorists, you know, actually experience normal human emotions. Is it possible that they aren't, in fact, afraid?

The Department of Homeland Security is actively trying to recruit scientists in the field regardless, according to The Times of India. Besides the fact the technology is a long way from being useful -- scientist don't have much of a clue now how to deal with people wearing perfume, for example -- we have to wonder if this is some sort of weird invasion of privacy we never could have imagined.
I mean, they've already tapped our phones, and read our library check-out history, do we really have to subject our own personal stank to the federal government?

Anyway, the science itself is kind of interesting. Prof. Furton is working on collection a smell memory bank. He's most interesting in technology that could takes swabs of scents from a crime scene and determine the culprit's age, race, and even last meal. Someone's been watching a bit too much CSI.

The technology might have practical uses beyond just a plot point for Horatio Caine. Scientists hope to isolate the signature scene of cancers and other disease, as well as use the technology to help with paternity identification.

Which I guess, could make an interesting plot point on Maury: "Dimitiri, You DO NOT smell like the father."    

Meanwhile, why the Dept. of Homeland security is looking to pump millions of dollars into silly smell research only so the government can know even more about you, the HIV rate in the nation's capitol is higher than in some parts of Africa. Isn't it good to know we've cracked the secrets of smell before we've cured HIV? You keep it in prospective, science.
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