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Smelly secrets

Art & Leisure

The scent of a joss stick or freshly baked apple pie – certain smells evoke memories.

No one knows this better than a group of European scientists, historians and technologists, who have taken it upon themselves to identify aromas that would have been smelled between the 16th and early 20th centuries.

Funded by the 2020 Horizon program, the first step in the project is to develop artificial intelligence that can screen historical books and texts for descriptions of odors, with the goal of creating an online dictionary containing insights into the places and feelings associated with these smells.

At some point individual scents will even be recreated by chemists and perfumers.

Scentilating.

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