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  1. Slow Motion Video Sheds Light On Why Rain Has That Distinct “Petrichor” Smell

    Things the Doctor's Wife didn't teach us.

    Say it with me, Doctor Who nerds: petrichor is the smell of dust after rain. But despite having an incredible fancy name that would also double as a wonderful perfume brand, scientists were never quite sure how that whole "rain smell" thing worked, other than a guess that it might be a result of oils and chemicals being released from the ground. Leave it to MIT to set the record straight with a bunch of fancy high-tech cameras, eh?

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  2. Robots Being Developed with Sense of Smell

    Learning love and adventure while picking up trash still a ways off.

    While there might be more than a few steps separating the Roomba from the Iron Giant, scientists are slowly bridging the gap with robots that can remember, walk, and-- maybe-- love? Well, that last one is still a ways off. But after four decades, Professor Joseph Ayers may have found a way to give robots a sense of smell.

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  3. Chris Hadfield Explains Why It’s Difficult to Smell in Space

    Chris Hadfield is definitely one of our favorite astronauts, and as part of his stay on the International Space Station he's been explaining how stuff works up there and performing experiments. This particular video was shot before the big issue with the ammonia leak, but it only seems right that Hadfield recently discussed why it's particularly difficult to smell in space. Hint: It has to do with your head swelling up.

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  4. Your Breath Smells Terrible, and Someone Wants Your iPhone to Know That

    In their annual series of "5-in-5" predictions, IBM predicted that by 2018 computers will replicate all five human senses. Seems like one company doesn't want to wait that long. Adamant Technologies in San Fransisco is working to get the iPhone a sense of smell. One reason the company gives for doing this is to warn people when they have bad breath, but we'd love to see the technology used to prevent us from drunk dialing our exes.

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  5. New Odor “Laurax” Is the Smell Equivalent of White Noise

    We're all for things that cover up the many terrible smells we encounter in our everyday lives, but let's be real -- sometimes that squirt of air freshener or powerfully scented pine tree dangling from your rearview mirror is just as headache inducing as the foul odor it's striving to cover up. Many have been the times that we have wished with all our hearts that we could just smell nothing at all. Our wish could be on the way to being granted, as researchers at The Weizmann Institute have engineered an odor that they claim is the chemical equivalent of the color white, or the sound of white noise -- a totally neutral scent.

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  6. Hyena Microbiome Differs Between Packs, Helps Smell Friend From Foe

    Researchers from Michigan State University have found a wrinkle in how hyenas use their noses that might have implications for how we understand the sense of smell in many other animals as well. Like most species of dogs, hyenas use scent as their primary sense -- it's how they find prey, how they look for mates, and how they communicate with one another. New research published this month in the journal Scientific Reports shows that hyenas from different clans appear to have different colonies of bacteria living in their scent glands. The study marks the first time that widely different communities of odor-causing bacteria have been found in the same species, and could offer insight on how animals communicate by smell.

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  7. Study: Smell May Be Caused by Quantum Vibrations

    Could quantum physics explain the human sense of smell? A new study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) lends credence to the theory that our sense of smell is based on sensing the vibrations caused by energy transfer at the subatomic level. The basis of the theory is that the structure of molecules is similar to that of balls held together by springs. This means the molecule can vibrate in a way unique to the composition of atoms in the molecule. When an electron hits a molecule, it loses quanta or discrete packets of energy. The human olfactory system may be wired to interpret the loss of energy on electrons, and thus differently interpret the molecules the electron encountered because of the molecule's unique vibration.

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