Study: ‘Old Person Smell’ Is Real

The distinctive “old person smell” you may have picked up on when visiting your grandparents most likely wasn’t your imagination, a new study indicates.

When given whiffs from pieces of pads worn under the armpits of young, middle-aged and elderly people for five consecutive nights, study participants could reliably distinguish the body odor of the elderly, who were 75 and older, the researchers found.


“The results of this study support the cross-culturally popular concept of an ‘old person odor,'” writes the international team in a study published on May 30 in the journal PLoS ONE. The notion that the elderly have a distinct smell exists in multiple cultures, and usually the odor is said to be unpleasant. But this probably has more to do with negative perceptions of old age, rather than with the odor itself, according to study researcher Johan Lundström, an assistant professor at the Monell Chemical Senses Center in Philadelphia.

It’s not yet clear why body odor changes as humans age or why humans are able to pick up on these changes. Body odors originate from an interaction between skin gland secretions and bacteria on our skin. As people age, the activity of different types of skin glands changes. This factor may contribute to the perceived change in body odor with age, the researchers write.

So far, scientists can only speculate on why this apparent signal for old age exists. Research in other animals indicates that such an odor may act as a sign of the “good genes” that have allowed a male to live into old age, making him more attractive to females. It’s also possible the distinctive odor is not a direct result of age; for instance, it could be associated with increased inflammation (part of an immune response) within the bodies of the elderly, Lundström said.

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Source: Yahoo News

Image: Time

Astronomers Stumble Upon Rare Square-Shaped Galaxy

An international team of astronomers discovered a rectangular‑shaped galaxy within a group of 250 galaxies some 70 million light years away.

Alister Graham from Swinburne University of Technology said the rare rectangular-shaped galaxy was a very unusual object. “It’s one of those things that just makes you smile because it shouldn’t exist, or rather you don’t expect it to exist. It’s a little like the precarious Leaning Tower of Pisa or the discovery of some exotic new species which at first glance appears to defy the laws of nature.”

The unusually shaped galaxy was detected in a wide field-of-view image taken with the Japanese Subaru Telescope for an unrelated program by Swinburne astrophysicist Dr Lee Spitler.The astronomers suspect it is unlikely that this galaxy is shaped like a cube. Instead, they believe that it may resemble an inflated disc seen side on, like a short cylinder.


Support for this scenario comes from observations with the giant Keck Telescope in Hawaii, which revealed a rapidly spinning, thin disc with a side‑on orientation lurking at the centre of the galaxy.

Despite its apparent uniqueness, partly due to its chance orientation, the astronomers have managed to glean useful information for modelling other galaxies. While the outer boxy shape is somewhat reminiscent of galaxy merger simulations which don’t involve the production of new stars, the disc-like structure is comparable with merger simulations involving star formation. The results will be published in The Astrophysical Journal.

Source: Digg

Image: The Daily Galaxy