Dogs can detect 40-parts-per-billion nitroaromatics in the air, which is more than sufficient to detect the chemical signature of buried anti-personnel land mines. We knew it was possible — the challenge was to develop a technological way to do it. I wrote the software for Rockwell's bid on the project to try to detect the explosives from signals coming from our device.
Why not just train dogs to clear the minefields? Because, horrifically, dogs are heavy enough to trigger many mines. I hate even thinking about that.
Enter the APOPO project, which since 2003 has trained and deployed African giant pouched rats to detect landmines (and now also tuberculosis in sputum samples). The rats have noses as sensitive as the dogs', and are light enough not to trigger the mines. Each agent is called a HeroRAT.
Please read more about the project, and consider donating. It's a worthy cause.
#APOPO #HeroRAT #HeroRATs #mines #landmines #science