He [Yusuf] said: "No blame at all will fall on
you. Today you have forgiveness from Allah. He is the Most Merciful
of the merciful. Go with this shirt of mine and cast it on my
father's face, and he will see again. Then come to me with all
your families." And when the caravan went on its way, their father
said: "I can smell Yusuf's scent! You probably think
I have become senile." (Qur'an, 12:92-94)
Today, scientists state that teleporting atoms and scent molecules
may be possible in the near future. In Surah Yusuf 94, Prophet Yusuf's
(as) father says that he can smell his son's scent. Scientists also
say that it will soon be possible to send scents in the same way
as pictures and three-dimensional images are sent. Therefore, this
verse might be a sign of an advanced technology developing from
the current research into transmitting scent.
Like our other sense perceptions, smell forms in the brain. For
example, a lemon peel's molecules stimulate the nose's scent receptors,
which then transmit them in the form of electrical signals to the
brain for analysis. Therefore, when the scent's signal is artificially
formed in another form, the scent can be perceived in the same form.
Indeed, the "electronic nose" is one of the research areas showing
that this may well be possible in the near future.
A human being's scent perception system makes
it possible for a trained nose to name and distinguish some 10,000
odours. Professionals in the perfumery business who have received
special chemical training are able to sniff a scent that contains
100 different odorants and then list the ingredients.188
This superior creation in the human nose has encouraged many scientists
to design similar equipment. Efforts are underway in various research
and development centres to replicate this human scent perception
system. The models developed on this basis are termed "the electronic
The human nose's receptors are composed of proteins; those in its
electronic counterpart are composed of a series of chemical receptors.
Each receptor is designed to detect different odours; the more their
distinguishing capacities are enhanced, the more difficult production
becomes and the greater the cost. The signals collected by the sensors
are turned into binary codes, by means of electronic systems, and
then sent to a computer. The electronic systems can be thought of
as imitating the nerve cells responsible for scent detection, and
the computer as the brain. The computer is programmed to analyse
the data and thus interprets the binary code signals.
Electronic noses are currently being used in
the food, perfumery, and chemical industries, as well as in medicine.
Universities and international organizations are also providing
major support for such projects. Nevertheless, as stated by Julian
W. Gardner of the University of Warwick, researchers are still in
the early stages of this technology.189
188. Elise Hancock,
"A Primer on Smell," Johns Hopkins Magazine, September
189. Mia Schmiedeskamp, "Plenty To Sniff At," Scientific
American, March 2001, www.sciam.com/2001/0301issue/0301techbus1.html.