Wednesday, June 20, 2007


Susana Soares studied bees and in particular the way they can be trained to use their smell and detect pretty anything including bombs and landmines.

Bees are trained using Pavlov’s reflex to target a specific odour and their range of detection includes pheromones, toxins and disease diagnosis. Not only can they roam large distances in search of what you want them to sniff out, it takes only a few minutes to train them, unlike dogs whose training can last up to one year.

Their behaviour can be conditioned by rewards such as sugar-water. They are placed in straw-like containers and made to smell a combination of, say sugar with tiny residues of TNT. That's it! The bees' keen sense of smell will then associate the odour of explosives with food.

In her BEE’S project, Susana would use the insects as biosensors, harnessing their extroadinary sense of smell to detect diseases such as lung cancer, skin cancer and tuberculosis. Besides they could spot the problem at a very early stage much better than machines. They could even detect if a woman is pregnant which i find much more appealing and elegant than the usual method that involves peeing on a piece of plastic.

The designer visited the London Beekeepers Association and used chewing gum in her tests with the bees. She then located a glass master and had glass objects blown.

People would breathe in the glass diagnosis tools where bees are kept for the short period of time necessary for them to detect general health and fertility cycles. To ensure that the mouth never gets in contact with the insect, there are two different spheres, the bee's smell being strong enough to sniff out what you breathe through glass. Bess would rush into the tubes that lead closer to the breath when they detect any disease they associate with food.

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via wemakemoneynotart

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