Some years back I thought there was a bestseller about an English or Canadian country physician. In it I recall he learned that having a sour or rotten apple smell on the breath was a sign of appendicitis. Hmm - how far can you go with this?
Max Jacobs of Common Sense and Wonder notes a new electronic nose of sorts, along with applications. Some can be used in food processing to detect subtle off-odors consistently. But the ones under development are to be used for health diagnostics such as for lung cancer:
Scientists tested the e-nose on 60 people at the Forlanini Hospital in Rome, including 35 waiting for an operation to remove a large lung tumour. Each test took just over a minute and the nose successfully pinpointed every cancer patient, according to New Scientist.I wonder if they'll be able to detect drug abuse by this means. Anyway, the implications are fascinating, and I'm sure civil libertarians will have a lot to say about this before it's over.
Afterthought: what's next, flatulence? Sweat? Handkerchiefs?