A Comparison of the Human and Electronic Noses
Scientists say that there no equivalent to the perception capacity of the scent-sensitive cells in the nose. Furthermore, some researchers openly state the impossibility of developing an electronic device that can fully duplicate the human nose. Edward J. Staples, an expert in electronic sensor technology, is one who openly admits this. Another scientist, Professor W. James Harper, says, "An electronic nose is not a replacement for people—it is a supplement" emphasizing that the electronic nose can only be an adjunct.
His statement may be expressed by an analogy: A camera cannot replace the eye, only support it. The relationship between the human nose and its electronic counterpart is much the same.
George Aldrich, chemical specialist at NASA, stated in the 23 June, 2001, edition of New Scientist magazine that nothing could surpass the human nose. When asked why NASA did not use electrical equipment in olfactory tests, Aldrich's replied, ". . . in my opinion, they don't come anywhere close to the range of the human nose. There's nothing better than the human nose."
Leaving aside these facts for the moment, let us compare the two models, to once again reveal the superiority of creation in the human nose:
1) Electronic noses are able to detect only a limited number of odors, rather than the thousands that the human nose can.
2) Computer-supported electronic noses are much larger compared to the human nose and are delicate devices, requiring intense care and maintenance. Moreover, the short lives of sensors represent another major problem. Our scent-perception system, on the other hand, never requires any maintenance during a lifetime of operation.
3) The cost of a single electronic nose can be as much as $100,000.
4) In the human nose, the scent-perception process is completed in as little as less than a second. Analysis lasts for minutes in the electronic counterpart, however.
5) Adjustment of the sensors and programming the computers to which they are linked are particularly important. Research has shown that high levels of water, alcohol, carbon dioxide and acetic acid can impair the device's sensitivity. In addition, scent experts need to program the electronic nose very carefully, or else certain odors may cause the device to give incorrect or uncertain results.
6) Any system composed of sensors and computers lacks any mechanism for making logical judgments. Yet human beings carry out this process from a very young age. As soon as a baby is born, it can recognize its mother from her smell, and can distinguish between odors two days later.
7) Despite the advanced technology of the present day, no electronic device with the capacity of the human nose can be manufactured, showing just how astonishing the design of our scent-perception system truly is. Experts working on the subject of the electronic nose are better aware of this than most other people.
The electronic nose is far more primitive than the human nose, despite all the technology it employs.
This scent-perception system has been functioning perfectly since the creation of the first human being. Yet the structure is so complex that the details of the scent-receptor working mechanism and the perception system in the brain are, to a large extent, still not understood. Indeed, less is known about the olfactory system than about sight, hearing and touch. Therefore, any electronic system to replace the human nose is clearly wishful thinking.
Apparently more advanced electronic noses will be produced in years to come, but that does not change this manifest truth: An electronic nose cannot emerge by chance, but is the product of specific planning, programming and design. Similarly, the nasal and scent systems, so superior to their electronic counterparts, did not come into being spontaneously or by chance. They are proofs of the superior artistry of God, the infinitely loving and merciful. And the way they have been placed at the service of all living things is a great blessing.
In short, every new scientific discovery regarding the human body and the scent perception system will once again inflict major disappointment on those who insist on propounding evolution. At the same time, such advances will help us to obtain a better idea of God's infinite knowledge and intellect. This will enable believers to draw closer to Him, to better appreciate His might, and to increase their fear of Him.
Believers' attitudes in the face of God's verses have been revealed in the Qur'an:
In the creation of the heavens and the Earth, and the alternation of night and day, there are Signs for people with intelligence: those who remember God, standing, sitting and lying on their sides, and reflect on the creation of the heavens and the Earth: "Our Lord, You have not created this for nothing. Glory be to You! So safeguard us from the punishment of the Fire." (Surah Al 'Imran: 190-191)