Weird Universe Blog — June 12, 2022

Smelling the Enemy: The Odortype Detection Program

The U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) launched the "Odortype Detection Program" in 2002. It had two goals:

The goal of Phase 1 will be to determine whether an exploitable, robust signature corresponding to individual human odortype exists...

The goal of Phase 2 will be to build a detector that can reliably detect the signature identified in phase 1 with high sensitivity and specificity.

By 2007, DARPA had changed the name of the program to the "Unique Signature Detection Program," but its goals remained essentially the same:

to determine, by means of a well-developed scientific methodology, whether there are unique signatures in emanations that can be used to identify and distinguish specific high-level-of-interest individuals within groups of enemy troops or combatants, and if so, to develop enabling technology for detecting and identifying those specific signatures. The program consists of an interdisciplinary team of performers using state-of-the-art techniques to evaluate the statistical, biological and chemical nature of individual emanations. Once the nature of the chemosignal has been characterized, performers will determine the impact of non-genetic factors (e.g., diet, stress, health, age) on the signal in order to determine whether the signal can be robustly extracted from a complex and varied chemical background. If an exploitable robust signature is identified, the program will then pursue detector development.

I haven't been able to find out what's become of the program since 2007. Though I'd wager that the U.S. government hasn't completely abandoned the idea since being able to identify people by their smell would be a hard-to-defeat surveillance technology. (Assuming that we all really do have a unique 'odortype' that can't be camouflaged with fragrance or by eating stinky food).

However, I did find a report on the program from 2005 that included the interesting detail that they field-tested the technology on seven sets of twins at Williamsburg, VA and Research Triangle Park, NC:

a field study was planned and conducted by RTI. In this study, identical twins and a family member (sibling or parent) were recruited. Each group went to either Williamsburg, VA, or Research Triangle Park, NC, for a four-day stay at a hotel. During this stay, daily sweat samples were collected onto polydimethylsiloxane membranes, as described in earlier reports to DARPA/ARO. A total of seven sets of twins were recruited. The goal was 30 twin pairs. Given the relatively poor response rate and the need for project resources to adequately address the data processing and statistical analysis needs of the overall USD program, the field study was terminated.

Posted By: Alex - Sun Jun 12, 2022 - Comments (1)
Category: Military | Spies and Intelligence Services | Smells and Odors

Petrarch’s Cat

If you make a visit to Italy and visit the museum-home of the author Petrarch, you will get to see the mummified body of his adored cat.

Or so the legend goes. Actually, the cat corpse is a mere four hundred years old, created by the person who owned the house in the 1600s.

Read about it here.

Posted By: Paul - Sun Jun 12, 2022 - Comments (0)
Category: Hoaxes and Imposters and Imitators | Historical Figure | Cats | Europe

June 11, 2022

The Prison Bra Rule

In 1975, Scharlette Holdman, executive director of Hawaii's ACLU, tried to visit a prisoner in an all-male Hawaiian prison, at the prisoner's request. While being searched it was discovered that she wasn't wearing a bra, and so she was denied entry. She sued, and the case went to the Hawaiian Supreme Court which ruled in favor of the prison. As a result, it remains the rule that all female visitors to Hawaiian prisons must wear bras, whether or not the lack of a bra is evident.

The case: Holdman v. Olim (1978)

More info from Dressing Constitutionally by Ruthann Robson:

Scharlette Holdman, then director of the Hawai'i ACLU, sought entry to a prison and was searched by a matron who discovered Holdman was not wearing a bra. The matron denied Holdman entry, relying upon a directive that required visitors to be 'properly dressed,' 'fully clothed including undergarments,' and stated 'provocative attire is discouraged.' Holdman's challenge stressed equal protection, under both the United States and Hawai'i state constitutions, arguing that the requirement that women wear bras while men need not constituted sex discrimination. Writing in 1978, the Hawai'i Supreme Court expressed some consternation about the slight record, but relying in part on deference to prison officials, the court found that dress standards are 'intimately related to sexual attitudes' and 'the omission of a brassiere as a conventional article of women's clothing' has been 'regarded as sexually provocative by some members of society.' ... The fact that Scharlette Holdman's lack of a bra became evident only upon a tactile search was irrelevant: the prison could still find it would be sexually provocative to the male inmates.

Honolulu Advertiser - Feb 3, 1975

Posted By: Alex - Sat Jun 11, 2022 - Comments (2)
Category: Prisons | Underwear | 1970s

June 10, 2022


Noella Charest-Papagno coined the term 'desairology' to mean doing hairstyling and cosmetics for the deceased. She created the word by combining 'des' (for deceased), 'air' (for hair), and 'ology' (a branch of learning). She thought the term sounded better than 'necrocosmetologist,' which had previously been the job title for funeral hairdressers. Her term seems to have caught on within the profession. At least, it has a wikipedia page.

In 1980, Papagno also authored the first book on hairdressing for the dead — Desairology: The Dressing of Decedent's Hair.

She created the somewhat bizarre video below around 2015. It's titled, "Dead lady speaks. Looks better now."

More info: JJ Publishing Group

Fort Lauderdale News - Apr 27, 1986

Posted By: Alex - Fri Jun 10, 2022 - Comments (0)
Category: Death | Hair and Hairstyling

Butt Cleavage Pants

I love how the opening can be any shape, such as a Chevy logo.

I also hope that Rhianna is not violating this patent!

Posted By: Paul - Fri Jun 10, 2022 - Comments (3)
Category: Body | Fashion | Public Indecency

June 9, 2022

Games Couples Play, #2

July 1947: Newlyweds Jane and Lloyd Gulledge of Dearborn, Michigan decided to play a couple of rounds of Russian roulette. Lloyd lost. "Police say they had been drinking."

Lancaster Eagle Gazette - Jul 28, 1947

(L) Nevada State Journal - Jul 29, 1947; (R) Palm Beach Post - Aug 3, 1947

Related: Games Couples Play, #1

Posted By: Alex - Thu Jun 09, 2022 - Comments (3)
Category: Marriage | 1940s | Weapons

June 8, 2022

Crepitus, the God of Flatulence

Crepitus was allegedly the Roman god of flatulence. He was usually depicted as a young child farting.

However, he's only allegedly so because there's controversy about whether the Romans recognized such a god, or whether Crepitus was the creation of early Christians trying to satirize pagan beliefs. According to Wikipedia, there are references to Crepitus in ancient texts, but only in Christian works, not pagan ones.

image source: POOP Project

Posted By: Alex - Wed Jun 08, 2022 - Comments (4)
Category: Religion | Flatulence | Ancient Times

Follies of the Madmen #534

Who knew that domestic life could be so medieval?


Posted By: Paul - Wed Jun 08, 2022 - Comments (3)
Category: Domestic | Advertising | Weapons

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All original content in posts is Copyright © 2016 by the author of the post, which is usually either Alex Boese ("Alex"), Paul Di Filippo ("Paul"), or Chuck Shepherd ("Chuck"). All rights reserved. The banner illustration at the top of this page is Copyright © 2008 by Rick Altergott.

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