This Week in Pods

It’s pollution, but in pod form!

Photo credit: Alexas_Fotos, CC0 Public Domain.

If you asked me what Seattle smelled like, I’d have a few answers: Trees. Fish. Pot. Asphalt. And, if you’re on that one street in Capitol Hill, urine.

If you asked me what Los Angeles smelled like, since I lived there before moving to Seattle, I’d probably say: Sun. Dust. Medical pot. Ocean. And, near a handful of bus stops, urine.

And, when I land in NYC in a few hours, it’ll smell like hot dogs and puddles and trash and taxis and, yes, urine.

But now you don’t have to ask, because the Norwegian University of Science and Technology’s Climart project has created Pollution Pods, designed to help all of us understand why major cities smell the way they do.

Take a Whiff of Cities’ Unique Smells with ‘Pollution Pods’

Visitors to the domes won’t be breathing actual polluted air. Rather, they will be inhaling “harmless ingredients and fragrances” that approximate the smell of pollution that is particular to a given city, Climart project leader Christian A. Klöckner, a professor in social psychology at NTNU, said in the statement.

What do some of these cities smell like?

“Delhi is a cocktail of almost everything imaginable — crop burning, diesel, rubbish burning (plastic) and dust,” he added. “Beijing is a combination of industrial smells (sulfur), coal and wood burning, which is used for heating. And São Paulo has a smell like vinegar, since they use ethanol for transportation,” [artist Michael Pinsky] said.

I’m not sure what one is supposed to do after visiting these pods, in regard to addressing climate change. (I’m also realizing there really isn’t a personal finance angle to this week’s pod story.) But, if I were in Trondheim, Norway this weekend instead of New York and DC, I’d totally visit the Pollution Pods exhibit.

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