Scientist performing sniffing experiment
Most odors in the real world contain a mix of molecules, each of which contributes some part of the final scent. Here, the scientists combined a selection of molecules to create the different scents. They chose various amounts from a group of 128 different chemicals to concoct the odors. People could generally tell the difference between two scents that had been made from two completely different groups of molecules. Most people could even tell the difference between scents that shared half of the same molecules. But as the scents’ number of shared ingredients increased, people found it harder to tell scents apart. No one in the study could tell the difference between two smells that shared 90 percent of the same molecules. Based on those results, the scientists estimate that the average person can identify about a trillion different smells, each made from 30 separate odor molecules. However, the most sensitive smeller in the group could probably identify many more, the scientists say. Someone with a relatively insensitive nose would probably detect only about 80 million, they now suspect. The study only used 128 odor molecules, far fewer than the number that exist in the real world.
Posted by Chelcie C.
This is a cool study. I never would have thought that we can smell so many different scents. Do you know what makes one person have a more sensitive nose than another?ReplyDelete
I'm not really sure. But i know I have horrible sense of smell so maybe its a genetic thing cause my mothers the same.Delete
I've always been able to distinguish smells and be brought back to a memory. The part of the brain that processes smells is near the midbrain and close to parts that is related to memory. Maybe this has to do with the fact that we can distinguish between so many different molecules.ReplyDelete
I have always been curious as to how we can distinguish different scents. It is crazy how the average person can distinguish about three trillion different smells.I wonder if they did this study on other mammals, how many scents would a dog be able to smell.ReplyDelete
Yeah I was thinking about that dog test also. I think they would be able to smell way more than we do.Delete