Monday, May 9, 2011

magical manure

I'd always assumed that the difference between beautiful (really!) and noxious manure smells was entirely a matter of what the cows ate. But my dad sent me an article this weekend that suggested it's a bit more complicated than that (as matters of poop so often are). If you're not inclined to read a four-page academic report on odor management as it relates to animal waste, let me at least share some highlights:
No single compound has been identified as a good predictor of odor sensation across situations in the field. Because of this, human panelists conduct odor measurements and quantify odor intensity and unpleasantness.
Manure sniffer-and-ranker! My future author-bio could put all those bricklaying, fish-gutting, sex-working writers to shame.

And this:
Based on psychological tests, seven primary classes of olfactory stimulants have been found to preferentially excite separate olfactory cells. These classes are: 1) ethereal, 2) camphoraceous, 3) musky, 4) floral, 5) minty, 6) pungent, and 7) putrid. 

Ethereal in this case refers to Ethylene Dichloride (which the EPA says has a "pleasant chloroform-like odor"), but it's more magical to think of it as that heavenly part of the cow poop. Dirt to dirt and all of that.

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I couldn't help but conjure a kind of second-cousin connect to the seven dwarfs, although because of Henning's Odor Prism, they'd have to be HOPpers, rather than mine workers, or whatever those little creatures heigh-ho'd off to in the morning. My children's book procrastination may be ending. Now if I only had an illustrator . . . and a plot . . .

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