What is the world's foulest smell? It's called “U.S. Government Standard Bathroom Malodor”

Writing for The New York Times, Randall Monroe (creator of the xkcd comic) looks into the world's worst smell. It turns out that there is no universal agreement, but a strong contender for the title is something called U.S. Government Standard Bathroom Malodor, "a substance that was designed to mimic the scent of military field latrines, in order to test cleaning products."

Another contender was accidentally cooked up one day by Derek Lowe, an industrial chemist:

Dr. Lowe said that the worst thing he’d ever smelled in his career as a chemist arose when he inadvertently combined dimethyl sulfide (think farts) with some silicon he was putting through a reaction called a Peterson olefination. Neither odor would smell great on its own, but combined they produced something transcendently foul. “It smelled like what you’d imagine the exhaust of a U.F.O. to smell like,” he said. “It was spectacularly weird and horrible.”

By Cornischong at lb.wikipedia - Own workTransferred from lb.wikipedia., CC BY-SA 3.0, Link Read the rest

2017 already stinks for people of San Francisco

An unexplained odor of rotten eggs is causing distress to residents of the San Francisco Bay Area. From Science Alert:

"PG&E received 45 calls about a gas-like odour in several different neighborhoods, according to company spokesman J.D. Guidi," reports Ted Goldberg at KQED.

"The Fire Department got more than 30 calls, according to that agency’s spokesman, Jonathan Baxter. Callers described the odour as 'rotten eggs or sulphur,' ... The calls initially came from the downtown area and then moved toward the Marina, Sunset, and Richmond neighbourhoods."

The weird thing is that even with so many different companies, the Fire Department, and government agencies such as the Coast Guard launching investigations into the smell, no one has been able to pin down what exactly caused the sudden flare up.

Image: Biswarup Ganguly/Wikipedia Read the rest