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Humans can smell up to 1 trillion odours


Posted on Saturday, 22 March, 2014 | Comment icon 12 comments

Stopping to smell the roses. Image Credit: sxc.hu
Scientists have determined that the human nose is far more capable than previously believed.
The widely held belief that we can only distinguish up to 10,000 different smells has been blown out of the water in a new report this week that suggests the real number may be closer to 1 trillion.

To reach this figure, researchers conducted a series of experiments in which participants were asked to identify individual smells in a mixture of scents. By analyzing the cases in which participants were unable to distinguish between overlapping scents, the team was able to calculate the number of individual smells that a human nose was capable of detecting.

"My hope is that this helps to dispel the myth that humans have a bad sense of smell," said study co-author Andreas Keller.

Source: Nature.com | Comments (12)

Tags: Nose, Smell


 
Recent comments on this story
Comment icon #3 Posted by Mr. ET on 22 March, 2014, 18:51
Id have to say the worst smell ive ever come in contact with was a rotting deer that was stored in a freezer I hauled off for this old man. instant gag reflex Ill never forget that.
Comment icon #4 Posted by Duchess Gummybuns on 22 March, 2014, 20:00
And out of all of them, 1 million I'll never want to smell in my life again.
Comment icon #5 Posted by taniwha on 22 March, 2014, 21:43
Thats ridiculous, why stop at a trillion?
Comment icon #6 Posted by maximusnow on 23 March, 2014, 17:24
Please list all odours used in this experiment, alphabeticaly please. Maximus
Comment icon #7 Posted by PM3K on 24 March, 2014, 4:36
True but it's only suggested.
Comment icon #8 Posted by regeneratia on 25 March, 2014, 1:55
My skin has an odor when my blood sugar gets a little high. I am not diabetic. It does, however, run in the family. I can smell something on my arms, after a night's sleep, that tells me I need to cut down on the carbs for a couple of days. I cut down on the carbs and take chromium and magnesium immediately upon smelling that odor. The worst smell I have ever experienced has happened quite a few times. That smell is when people poop blood. When combined with liver failure, the smell is enough to make you faint.
Comment icon #9 Posted by :PsYKoTiC:BeHAvIoR: on 25 March, 2014, 11:56
[indent=1]I don't think any human being will be able to smell a trillion different odors in a lifetime anyway. I doubt I reached the initial ten thousand to begin with.[/indent]
Comment icon #10 Posted by SkeptcByMindBelievrByHeart on 25 March, 2014, 14:33
how many different odours can a dog smell
Comment icon #11 Posted by lightly on 26 March, 2014, 19:41
My smellier half has produced some that were off the scale !


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