On Thursday I heard an interview on the Marketplace radio show about the small of money. Here's an excerpt.
Sarah Gardner: So you've heard of drug-sniffing dogs, right? Well today we read about a new role for canines in place like Argentina -- dollar sniffers. Yes, they have been trained to sniff out dollars to combat the black market in greenbacks.
So it got us thinking: What does money smell like? Dollars are made of cotton and linen, and according to the Treasury's Bureau of Printing and Engraving, different types of inks are used on different denominations. But really the smell is affected by what the dollar comes in contact with -- dirt, sweat and yes, cocaine, according to research by the Argonne National Laboratories in Chicago.
To understand all of this a little bit more we reached out to Stuart Firestein at Columbia University's Department of Biological Sciences. Welcome to the program.
Stuart Firestein: Thank you. Nice to be here.
Gardner: Listen I have to ask you: What do you call someone like yourself? What's the official title for someone who is an expert on smells?
Firestein: We call the field the sense of olfaction, is the true word for the sense of smell. So there's olfaction for smell and gustation for taste. But in the end everybody just calls me a smell expert, I'm afraid.
Gardner: OK. There's nothing like "smell-ologist?"
Firestein: No, no. We don't have that one yet.
Gardner: OK. So what about money? Does it have a unique smell?
Firestein: Well apparently so since dogs are able to smell it. I've always thought it did myself personally. You can always catch that, especially new bills.
Gardner: That's right. We talk about the scent of fresh money and you think of people of smelling fresh dollar bills. Well after your hands get on it, isn't not so fresh, right?
Firestein: Picks up all sorts of ugly stuff. So it wouldn't be a bad idea to deodorize it every now and again, I suppose.
Gardner: Now I read that money is basically cotton and linen. Do those have distinctive scents?
Firestein: They're very light. So again I think it's primarily the ink rather than the paper in this particular case that gives off the odor.
To read the complete article, see:
Sniffing out what money smells like
Wayne Homren, Editor
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