Your 'Odortype' Is Unique!

It has been known for centuries or even longer that dogs are able to identify individual people and track them over long distances. Recent evidence also indicates that mothers can recognize the odor of their baby and, perhaps, babies can identify the scent of their mother.

How is this done? There must be an olfactory signature much like a fingerprint.

We have called this an odorprint or an odortype. Our research over the past years has been designed to discover the nature of this odortype-what genes are involved, what roles it plays in normal animal and human behavior, and ultimately what chemicals are involved in the olfactory code.

The story of our research program began in 1974, when my mentor, collaborator and a former chairman of Monell, the late Dr Lewis Thomas, building on theories on histocompatibility genes and olfaction, suggested that histocompatibility complex genes, might impart to each individual a characteristic scent.

Dogs, he surmised, might be able to distinguish different human histocompatibility types by the sense of smell. During the past three decades, we have investigated this hypothesis; our studies and more recently, a number of other laboratories have succeeded in verifying the fundamental basis for this prediction.We have shown that mice that differ in as little as a single DNA base pair mutation in one of these genes exhibit different odors. Indeed, theoretically every mouse and every person (except identical twins) have a unique odor determined by these genes. Our studies have encompassed the behavior, physiology and chemistry of this phenomenon.

Genes in the Major Histocompatibility Complex (MHC) have been identified by immunologists as critical for immune response. Animals and humans that are similar at this set of about 50 genes can mutually accept transplants for example.

The MHC of human is called HLA and of mice is called H-2. A unique feature of this set of genes is their extreme variability. Since the MHC is the only group of genes exhibiting this extreme variation, it was hypothesized- correctly as it turned out- that they would be involved in controlling odor types.

An odortype (we defined as) is the genetically-determined body odor that distinguishes one individual of a species from another. The MHC-determined odortype is that portion of the animal's total odortype that is under the control of genes in the Major Histocompatibility Complex.

Science fiction authors have been on the trail of "odortypes" for a long time. Listen to Golden age master Ray Cummings in his 1935 short story Crimes of the Year 2000:

2XZ4 —the man wanted for a score of crimes, from murder up to treasonable plotting. 2XZ4 had never been arrested, never been typed. But we had his olfactory classification; the Bloodhound Machine, as the newscasters luridly call it, had contacted his trail several times, so that the scent of him was mathematically known.
(Read more about the Bloodhound Machine)

Fans of the great Ray Bradbury may also recall the olfactory system of the Mechanical Hound from Fahrenheit 451 (1953).

Via Monell Center.

Scroll down for more stories in the same category. (Story submitted 12/10/2016)

Follow this kind of news @Technovelgy.

| Email | RSS | Blog It | Stumble | del.icio.us | Digg | Reddit |

Would you like to contribute a story tip? It's easy:
Get the URL of the story, and the related sf author, and add it here.

Comment/Join discussion ( 0 )

Related News Stories - (" Surveillance ")

Juggalo Face Paint Disrupts Facial Recognition
'... designed to foil facial recognition systems.' - Neal Stephenson, 2019

'Agression Detectors' Don't Work When Spying On Students
'The professional agitators had also learned how to modulate their voices below the danger level...' - Anne McCaffrey, 1973.

Adversarial Patches Trick Computer Vision
'The surveillance cameras can all see it, but then they forget they’ve seen it.' - William Gibson, 2010.

FLIR Black Hornet 3 Palm-sized Drone
These drones can provide situational awareness beyond visual line-of-sight capability.

 

Google
  Web TechNovelgy.com   

Technovelgy (that's tech-novel-gee!) is devoted to the creative science inventions and ideas of sf authors. Look for the Invention Category that interests you, the Glossary, the Invention Timeline, or see what's New.

 

 

 

 

 

Current News

China Deploys Robot Traffic Police
'The robot came up smooth and fast as a rocket...'

Better Than Dune Chromoplastic? This Guy Might Have Done It
'But when Old Father Sun departs, the chromoplastic reverts to transparency in the dark.'

Gather, An AI Warehouse Inventory Drone Startup
'It extended three of its tiny arms sideways to lock onto the registration pins...'

China's Artificial Intelligence-Enhanced Education
'The grey gas not only cut off his vision, but also his other senses...'

Orbital Manufacturer 'Made in Space' Gets $73 Million NASA Contract
'Mass-produced in the orbiting factories...'

Soli Gesture Tech Will Be In Google Pixel 4
'I enjoy watching this way, but - He waved his hand and the circuit switched abruptly.'

Uber Eats Pairs Cars With Drones
Fresh grub? Let's hope they aren't delivering grubs.

Space-Based Solar Power Roundup
SF writers popularized and elaborated on this idea a generation before the first patents were filed.

Lost Language Meanings Found By Machine Learning
'The autopilot would need data before it could begin a translation...'

'Aerogel' Sheets For Martian Gardens
'Sealed to the ground along all the sides, Honey, he growled...'

France's 'Red Team' Of Science Fiction Authors
'They're the only experts we have.'

Dim The Sun With Stratospheric Controlled Perturbation Experiment
'Those twin volcanoes; d'ye see them, Mr. Renner?'

Mashambas Skyscraper Farm Design Wins
'...a towering eighty-story structure like the office In-and Out baskets stacked up to the sky.'

Self-Driving Tractors From China Plan Ahead
'Machines that seemingly with full consciousness walked out into the fields to do their daily work.'

Jet-Powered Hoverboard Works!
L'audace, l'audace, toujours l'audace!

Nobe 3-Wheel Electric Vehicle Parking Like I, Robot
Spidercar, Spidercar, does whatever a spidercar does.

More SF in the News Stories

More Beyond Technovelgy science news stories

Home | Glossary | Invention Timeline | Category | New | Contact Us | FAQ | Advertise |
Technovelgy.com - where science meets fiction™

Copyright© Technovelgy LLC; all rights reserved.