No, not down the phone or in your lover’s ear. Although they say a dog can detect the odour of lung cancer on a patient’s breath, this is not about individuals. This story is about macro-scale breathing. Yes, a bunch of people in an enclosed space – a cinema. Scientists have been and smelled it, tested it and pronounced on it.
In a way it’s disturbing. I mean, my breath is my own – until I breathe it out. Then it’s everybody’s. And before that, what am I breathing in? Ughhh. You can catch a cold in a cinema. On the other hand, do these scientists have the right to collect my breath, even if it is mixed in with that of others, the smell of popcorn and maybe even secret gin? And of course, the SBDs (you know what I mean, silent but deadly, say no more).
They measured the way in which the air content changed as the film unrolled. Interesting stuff. Full story in this month’s Physics World.