NASA's recently developed electronic nose, intended for air quality monitoring on Space Shuttle Endeavour and later the International Space Station, has a rather fortunate and unintended secondary role. In addition to being able to detect contaminants within about one to 10,000 parts per million, scientists have discovered it can also sniff out the difference in odor between normal and cancerous brain cells -- not a new use for e-noses, but certainly one that helps to advance the field. Groups such the as Brain Mapping Foundation, City of Hope Cancer Center, and Jet Propulsion Laboratory have been testing the technology and hope it one day leads to a new understanding of cancer development. We'd also wager it can accurately detect what cologne or perfume you're wearing, another unintended side effect and probably not as fun of a party trick as it seems.
[Via Slashdot; image courtesy of RSC]