How China's Pollution Sniffers Work

China's Pollution Sniffers: Cheat Sheet

Stuff You Need to Know

  • A 2006 World Bank survey found that 16 of the 20 most polluted cities in the world are in China.
  • Officials in China's Guangdong province created a program that trained humans to detect and distinguish between air pollutants using their sense of smell.
  • Science isn't fully sure how we smell; a variation of the lock and key hypothesis says quantum vibrations allow odorants to dock in the appropriate receptors.
  • NASA created an electronic nose that is sensitive enough to detect a fire before it begins.

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