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posted by mrpg on Saturday April 08, @09:41AM   Printer-friendly
from the smells-like-knowledge dept.

A 'Historic Book Odour Wheel' which has been developed to document and archive the aroma associated with old books, is being presented in a study in the open access journal Heritage Science. Researchers at UCL Institute for Sustainable Heritage created the wheel as part of an experiment in which they asked visitors to St Paul's Cathedral's Dean and Chapter library in London to characterize its smell.

The visitors most frequently described the aroma of the library as 'woody' (selected by 100% of the visitors who were asked), followed by 'smoky' (86%), 'earthy' (71%) and 'vanilla' (41%). The intensity of the smells was assessed as between 'strong odor' and 'very strong odor'. Over 70% of the visitors described the smell as pleasant, 14% as 'mildly pleasant' and 14% as 'neutral'.

In a separate experiment, the researchers presented visitors to the Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery with an unlabelled historic book smell - sampled from a 1928 book they obtained from a second-hand bookshop in London - and collected the terms used to describe the smell. The word 'chocolate' - or variations such as 'cocoa' or 'chocolatey' - was used most often, followed by 'coffee', 'old', 'wood' and 'burnt'. Participants also mentioned smells including 'fish', 'body odour', 'rotten socks' and 'mothballs'.

Cecilia Bembibre, heritage scientist at UCL and corresponding author of the study said: "Our odour wheel provides an example of how scientists and historians could begin to identify, analyze and document smells that have cultural significance, such as the aroma of old books in historic libraries. The role of smells in how we perceive heritage has not been systematically explored until now."

Will our grandchildren recognize the smell of diesel, or oil?


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  • (Score: 2) by c0lo on Saturday April 08, @09:50AM (16 children)

    by c0lo (156) Subscriber Badge on Saturday April 08, @09:50AM (#490781)

    Except soylent, will our grandchildren recognize any smell as food?
    'Cause the universal income won't pay for anything else, and all the money will be accumulated by the top 0.0001%-ers.

    • (Score: 3, Insightful) by anubi on Saturday April 08, @09:54AM (3 children)

      by anubi (2828) Subscriber Badge on Saturday April 08, @09:54AM (#490784)

      Here's hoping that before things get that bad, Congress will pass tax law making investment in job creation more lucrative than investment in hoarding things for rent-seeking.

      --
      "Prove all things; hold fast that which is good." [KJV: I Thessalonians 5:21]
      • (Score: 2) by kaszz on Saturday April 08, @10:20AM

        by kaszz (4211) on Saturday April 08, @10:20AM (#490790) Journal

        Rent-seeking hoarders will sponsor congress and senate to make such law toothless..

        It takes a whole group that values other things than peer pressure and money to make a difference in this matter.

      • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Saturday April 08, @10:24AM (1 child)

        by Anonymous Coward on Saturday April 08, @10:24AM (#490793)

        Where's my "+1 Foolishly hopeful" mod?

        • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Saturday April 08, @10:43AM

          by Anonymous Coward on Saturday April 08, @10:43AM (#490800)

          It's called "+1, Funny" ;)

    • (Score: 2) by shortscreen on Saturday April 08, @08:19PM (10 children)

      by shortscreen (2252) Subscriber Badge on Saturday April 08, @08:19PM (#490952) Journal

      Soylent isn't exactly cheap. I wouldn't anticipate it becoming some kind of universal government ration, at least not for economic reasons.

      Anyway, food is big business. People opt to spend $5 for a 1lb bag of potato chips instead of a 5lb bag of potatoes. If everyone was surviving off a barebones UBI because they had no jobs, I suspect they would use some of their free time to create their own tasty snacks.

      • (Score: 2) by c0lo on Saturday April 08, @10:03PM (9 children)

        by c0lo (156) Subscriber Badge on Saturday April 08, @10:03PM (#490991)

        Soylent isn't exactly cheap. I wouldn't anticipate it becoming some kind of universal government ration, at least not for economic reasons.

        If you keep into account all the costs associated with the diversity of raw ingredients in a balanced diet, it may turn out that soylent may be more economic. Ley me elaborate....

        People opt to spend $5 for a 1lb bag of potato chips instead of a 5lb bag of potatoes. If everyone was surviving off a barebones UBI because they had no jobs, I suspect they would use some of their free time to create their own tasty snacks.

        From potatoes as the single ingredient, I doubt you can create "tasty snack" - you will need other ingredients as well. Which means added cost to distributing those ingredients to "retail point" as individual packets; retails points which will require shelf spaces, the supermarket type at the present. I doubt supermarkets make sense in the conditions in which the majority of the population rely on UBI. I reckon a single pantry-like small shop distributing a single product is cheaper.

        The cooking... if the majority of the population is UBI-ing, I suspect the American Dream will morph into "be granted a minimal living space in the social home compounds". Do you imagine those cheap compounds will allow enough room for an individual kitchen to make a "tasty snack"? Imagine a road-side motel room and the start to cut it down (to reduce building and maintenance costs).
        I reckon a simple minimal microwave oven and a water tap will be just enough to mix your daily ratio of soylent with water in a cylinder, put it into the microwave (which won't allow other form factors but your cylinder) and warm it. Simple and, most importantly, highly "efficient" (aka cheap).

        ---

        Do I like the picture above? The hell I do. But I think it is probable to happen in the capitalistic approach to society.

        • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Saturday April 08, @10:44PM (1 child)

          by Anonymous Coward on Saturday April 08, @10:44PM (#491000)

          what's an ubi?

          • (Score: 2) by c0lo on Saturday April 08, @10:59PM

            by c0lo (156) Subscriber Badge on Saturday April 08, @10:59PM (#491005)

            what's an ubi?

            Universal Basic Income [wikipedia.org] - one's life matters only as cost if all one can do is to rely exclusively on it.

        • (Score: 2) by takyon on Sunday April 09, @04:01AM (3 children)

          by takyon (881) <takyonNO@SPAMsoylentnews.org> on Sunday April 09, @04:01AM (#491063) Journal

          A toaster oven and a single plug-in burner might be able to replicate a lot of the functions of a full range. Or UBI recipients can live with others in a single house with such opulent luxuries as a stove. Oh wait, your comment covered that. Come on man, an electric stove is not hard to come by. How else are you going to make crack in bulk? (grin)

          --
          [SIG] 04/14/2017: Soylent Upgrade v13 [soylentnews.org]
          • (Score: 2) by c0lo on Sunday April 09, @04:29AM (2 children)

            by c0lo (156) Subscriber Badge on Sunday April 09, @04:29AM (#491071)

            Or UBI recipients can live with others in a single house with such opulent luxuries as a stove.

            Maybe. But I'll bet it will look as the Ahikabara capsule [bookingadvisor.com], probably a less luxurious version of it.

            If there'd be a stove somewhere, it'll be shared by hundreds - good enough for crack in bulk, but not enough for a tasty snack for everybody.

            • (Score: 2) by takyon on Sunday April 09, @05:21AM (1 child)

              by takyon (881) <takyonNO@SPAMsoylentnews.org> on Sunday April 09, @05:21AM (#491083) Journal

              America has vast amounts of land on which homes could be built compared to some countries. But given that more people are moving into cities, maybe we should build arcologies. Fit a million people into a few blocks.

              If you have enough space to give people a bedroom sized room rather than a capsule, you can use clever tricks to allow transformation of the room. One obvious one being the sofa-bed. Or a "kitchen" that can be shut away in a wall.

              --
              [SIG] 04/14/2017: Soylent Upgrade v13 [soylentnews.org]
              • (Score: 2) by c0lo on Sunday April 09, @01:08PM

                by c0lo (156) Subscriber Badge on Sunday April 09, @01:08PM (#491146)

                America has vast amounts of land on which homes could be built compared to some countries.

                It's not the land that's missing, is motivation. If there's no profit, that land won't be used.
                True, "insurance" cost against pitchforks and torches will dictate UBI... but I bet it will be at minimum cost.

                maybe we should build arcologies.

                Arcologies... it will be only one true arcology, for the 0.1%-ers and the auxiliary staff. Easier to defend.

                If you have enough space to give people a bedroom sized room rather than a capsule

                USians will still not going to give that space to the welfare bastard.
                You don't believe me? Ask jmo and khallow.

        • (Score: 1, Interesting) by Anonymous Coward on Sunday April 09, @06:02AM (2 children)

          by Anonymous Coward on Sunday April 09, @06:02AM (#491093)

          The cooking... if the majority of the population is UBI-ing, I suspect the American Dream will morph into "be granted a minimal living space in the social home compounds". Do you imagine those cheap compounds will allow enough room for an individual kitchen to make a "tasty snack"? Imagine a road-side motel room and the start to cut it down (to reduce building and maintenance costs).
          I reckon a simple minimal microwave oven and a water tap will be just enough to mix your daily ratio of soylent with water in a cylinder, put it into the microwave (which won't allow other form factors but your cylinder) and warm it. Simple and, most importantly, highly "efficient" (aka cheap).

          I'm not sure what sort of society you're envisioning, or what you mean by "the majority of the population is UBI-ing"; it seems like you're suggesting there will be no profitable employment available for this whole majority? Because if there's any opportunity to work even a few hours a week for snack money, I can't imagine a majority of the population gonna sit around eating soylent (or equivalent) for every meal.

          I normally think of the point of UBI as follows. (Mind, I'm not sold on UBI, but I'm not dead-set against it either.)
          Thanks to automation, we'll "soon" have enough work to keep 50% of the workforce employed. (For our purposes "workforce" = not counting minors, but including the elderly.)
          No UBI, it breaks down like:

          1. 50% employed full-time, making a living wage
          2. 50% unemployed, starving and rioting

          For reasons I can't quite grasp, society just doesn't want to make employers shorten the work week to 35, 30, 25, and then 20 hours, so that's out. Next approach is UBI, which frees everyone from needing a full-time job with a living wage. Once you release it from full-time jobs, that 50% goes a lot farther; it breaks down like:

          1. 20% employed full-time (at lower wages) -- guess they value money relatively more (vs. leisure time) than I do; maybe they like nice houses, maybe their hobbies are expensive per hour.
          2. 60% employed part-time, at varying hours/week -- they wouldn't be making a living, but combined with UBI, they have money to raise their standards of living a bit, maybe a nicer apartment, better food, and low-cost hobbies; of course they could (and a few will) choose to live in a box farm like group 3, and spend it all on food/hobbies, but most people will spend some on housing, some on food, and some on hobbies.
          3. 20% unemployed -- this includes the pathologically lazy, the unemployable (including those too old to work even part time), and those who find themselves between jobs, but will soon be back in group 2; they might well be living in the massive arrays of minimal living space you envision, but they'll never be more than a small minority.

          And as more automation destroys more jobs, group 1 shrinks (and eventually disappears), and group 2 find themselves working fewer hours, but group 3 won't grow appreciably until there are practically no employment opportunities. Maybe this remote endgame is exactly what you're talking about, but IMO we have a long way to go until that's an issue, and I'm not sure we'll need employment anymore; by then I expect the job-destroying robots to be fully self-replicating, and to have been "liberated" from whatever cartel was restricting ownership of them; in other words, everyone can either have their own, or belong to a co-op that has one. The only scarcity left will be the energy to run them...

          • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Sunday April 09, @06:14AM

            by Anonymous Coward on Sunday April 09, @06:14AM (#491095)

            Oh, and this is getting off-topic, so I separated it out, but one phenomenon I think you'd see under UBI... Rather than sitting in their little boxes watching tv until they take up russian roulette to alleviate the boredom, some will turn to cooperative farming.

            You'd have a small group of people owning shares in a farm, pooling some percentage of their UBI to cover property tax, upkeep, and consumables, and committing their own labor to produce their food; the aim would be principally subsistence for the members, rather than profit, but any surplus would of course be sold and the proceeds returned to members as a dividend. Between better food, a nicer place to live, and a lot less boredom, many people would find it a much better choice than the box farm, hard work notwithstanding; and depending how available the job-destroying automation that precipitated this mess is, it may not be all that hard of work, either. (Farm work isn't exactly easy right now, but it's different work at different times of the year -- I'd really rather have that variety than a similarly labor-intensive job where I do the same thing every week year-round.)

            It's not clear whether that sort of farming (and individual homesteading, etc.) really counts as "employment" or not; I'd put them in group 2, but you could argue that I should have added a 4th group for individual or cooperative "self-sufficiency". (I mean, it's not really self-sufficient if you need the UBI check to make ends meet, but I haven't got a better word...) And the great thing is, land that is marginal for true self-sufficiency at small-scale (i.e. it yields enough to feed the farmers, but not enough surplus to reliably cover expenses) becomes quite livable when the expenses are paid by UBI; this in turn means if it does become a phenomenon as I expect, it won't be self-extinguishing by driving up prices on the best farmland.

          • (Score: 2) by c0lo on Sunday April 09, @01:25PM

            by c0lo (156) Subscriber Badge on Sunday April 09, @01:25PM (#491149)

            I'm not sure what sort of society you're envisioning, or what you mean by "the majority of the population is UBI-ing"; it seems like you're suggesting there will be no profitable employment available for this whole majority?

            Indeed, this is what I'm suggesting.

            Next approach is UBI, which frees everyone from needing a full-time job with a living wage.

            There are multiple approaches. One I wouldn't dismiss so easily: WW3.
            A good thing China softened its stance [theguardian.com], but there's always a risk Agent Orange to put his foot into his mouth [salon.com] one too many in the future.

    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Saturday April 08, @11:26PM

      by Anonymous Coward on Saturday April 08, @11:26PM (#491008)

      The grandchildren will recognize the smell of burning electronics. Burning inside their heads. This will be because we let the secret societies control our future. We let them develop spyware (in hardware and software) on our dime and we let them control our media. We let them brainwash us into non-thinking entities who let themselves be RFID-chipped, and like it. They still call us goy. I wonder what the future holds.

  • (Score: 2) by c0lo on Saturday April 08, @09:53AM (4 children)

    by c0lo (156) Subscriber Badge on Saturday April 08, @09:53AM (#490783)

    I just opened a book published in the '50-ies - it smells of dust primarily.
    I love it, though.

    • (Score: 2) by looorg on Saturday April 08, @10:51AM (1 child)

      by looorg (578) on Saturday April 08, @10:51AM (#490801)

      That was my first thought to - what do books smell like? Usually dust, but then that is probably the dust smelling and not the actual books.

      • (Score: 2) by SomeGuy on Saturday April 08, @03:55PM

        by SomeGuy (5632) on Saturday April 08, @03:55PM (#490869)

        Paper actually absorbs quite a bit of oder from the surroundings in which it was stored. When I bring in a new old manual I can often smell things like smoke, machine oils, mildew, and so on.

    • (Score: 2) by MostCynical on Saturday April 08, @12:10PM

      by MostCynical (2589) on Saturday April 08, @12:10PM (#490813)

      And dust is supposed to be mostly skin cells, so: old books smell like someone's grandparents.

      --
      (Score: tau, Irrational)
    • (Score: 2) by SomeGuy on Saturday April 08, @03:48PM

      by SomeGuy (5632) on Saturday April 08, @03:48PM (#490865)

      Not that long ago I opened a particular early 80s software package, it had been well stored and still had the "new stuff" smell inside of it. It was the sort of expensive software package that a vendor would have tried hard to make appealing to the big suites. I think these days much has been forgotten about the underlying presentation of a product. Things like the smell, the quality of the slip cover and binder, textures, and so on.

      So what does a .PDF smell like? :P

  • (Score: 2) by kaszz on Saturday April 08, @10:22AM

    by kaszz (4211) on Saturday April 08, @10:22AM (#490791) Journal

    Scan any molecules leaving the book object, then recreate?

  • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Sunday April 09, @12:30AM

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday April 09, @12:30AM (#491017)

    "Smells that have cultural signficance?" GTFO. G right TF O.

    I like fragrances, I do, but I do not have the inner bullshit reserves to describe them as "culturally significant." I would need to train for years for that.

  • (Score: 2) by aristarchus on Sunday April 09, @05:07AM

    by aristarchus (2645) on Sunday April 09, @05:07AM (#491079) Journal

    "I love the smell of old books in the morning. It smells, . . . like victory."

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