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New synthetic "tongue" can tell the difference between whiskeys

Mark Humphrey / AP

Scientists have mimicked the taste receptors on a human tongue to distinguish between more than 30 different kinds of whiskey, The Verge reports.

How it works: The "tongues" are tubes of fluorescent liquid which either glow brighter or become dimmer when they come into contact with a drop of whiskey. Each tube mimics a different taste receptor on the human tongue — sweet, salty, bitter, sour and more. The scientists measure the degree to which each whiskey changes the tubes to identify the type of whiskey being tested.

What's new: This "tongue" method allows scientists to test the overall mixture instead of trying to discern its identity by separating its parts by weight, which is usually how mixtures are identified.

Why it matters: The research team, based at Heidelberg University in Germany, says the technology might eventually be used to distinguish between fake and real drugs.