Monday, November 26, 2007

Smelly Facts: A Collection of Little Facts

Do we take our sense of smell for granted? Do we lament the fact that it is nowhere near as sensitive as that of many other animals? It is still pretty remarkable. A few random facts today to remind us how special our sense of smell is.

· “We can smell smoke at concentrations well below that needed to trigger even the most sensitive of household smoke detectors.”
· “We can distinguish among roughly 10.000 different chemicals by their smell.” (Axel, 1995)
· “Blind people regularly identify other individuals by each person’s unique odor, and sighted people can do that too when they try.” Where does our special, identifiable odor come from? “In humans, specialized scent-producing glands (apocrine glands) are concentrated most highly in the axillary region (underarms) and also exist in high concentrations in the genital area, the alveolar area (around the nipples), the navel area, on the top of the head, and on the forehead and cheeks.” (Stoddart, 1990)
· “Much, if not most of what we call the flavor of foods is actually smell, not taste.”
· “As we get older, our sense of smell declines. By age 65, about 25 percent of people have serious olfactory impairment, and by age 80 the number is 75 percent." (Doty et al., 1984)

Note: All of the above facts are direct quotes from Peter Gray’s Psychology, 4th Edition, Worth Publishers

Image of navel:


PinstripedZebra said...

I really love the Smelly Facts you have on your blog lately! Those are very interesting to read even for people, like me, who are not as crazy for the perfumes themself but just love your writingstyle, a joy to read!

I am waiting for your next post allready!


TMH256 said...

Interesting facts Divina! If you ever suffered a bad cold and can't taste anything because of severe congestion, you will definitely understand the second to last point! I was really stumped over the photo. Thanks for telling us what it is! Very clever. :-)

helg said...


I think it's a navel? Goes with the gist of the post!

I think the last bit (which is a fact, true) is what usually accounts for the accusation of old-lady scent: overapplication due to a declining sense of smell. But try telling that to people over a certain age...they get angry!

Divina said...

Thank you so much, Z! It is so lovely to read such a compliment!

Divina said...

Hey T :) Yes, having a nose-cold is completely insufferable! Especially if you are writing about perfume. It has happened to me a couple of times so far and I've managed to overcome it, with a days break and a post like smelly facts which does not require me to smell much..

Divina said...

Hello Helg :) Yep it is indeed a navel.

About the last bit: an even sadder implication of the last fact is that when older people wistfully complain that "nothing tastes the same as it did when I was younger! It must be due to the artificial additives, the preservatives etc etc etc)" it is actually due to the fact that they can no longer smell good.. I'd never have the heart to point that out though. Better to put up with the whining than hurt someone's feelings like that..