Environment: Sniffing Gerbil

A rodent for bombs

Rodents though they may be, gerbils are ideal house pets: small, cuddly and lovable. Also very sensitive and very dumb, which may make them ideal bomb sniffers at airport terminals. So says Research Physiologist David Moulton, who now has funding from the Federal Aviation Administration to test his theory.

In his Philadelphia lab, Moulton is training some 30 gerbils. For half an hour a day, they are put in training boxes, where they are confronted by three portholes. Purified air blows from two of the openings; the third assails them with a mix of air and amyl acetate,...

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