Scientists Trying to Isolate the Scent of Fear

Remember The Scarecrow, the villain in Batman Begins that made fear-inducing toxin? Well, his weapons may soon be a reality, thanks to Pentagon scientists who are trying to isolate and harness the chemical scent of fear:

Pheromones are chemicals released by animals as signals to their own kind: for sex, for territorial marking, and more. They're often detected in the olfactory membranes. But there's more to pheromones than attraction. Many animals have an alarm pheromone which is used to signal danger; aphids, for example, use it to cause their fellow lice to flee.

Now, the US Army is trying to track down and harness people's smell of fear. The military has backed a study on the "Identification and Isolation of Human Alarm Pheromones," which "focused on the Preliminary Identification of Steroids of Interest in Human Fear Sweat." The so-called "skydiving protocol" was the researchers' method of choice.

You can imagine what the "skydiving protocol" entails! Wired's Danger Room blog has more: http://blog.wired.com/defense/2008/01/pentagon-resear.html


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When people come to L.A., many of them say they love the energy, the vibe, the mood - what they don't realize is that that is the smell of fear they're detecting, as this city is covered in it. They don't need to experiment - they can suck it out of the air here and they'll have good samples.
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Wow; this is weird. I was talking with a friend just tonight who said he was on a bike ride with one of his friends; when they passed by a meat packing plant, the other guy said something like, "You smell that? That's the smell of fear. The fear of animals headed for slaughter."

I've smelled that smell lots of times before, and even stepped in it a few times on the farm. Never knew it was called fear.
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