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Humans Can Smell a Trillion Scents

4 years ago1.3K views

GeoBeats

Geo Beats

A team of researchers has determined that when it comes to estimating how good our sense of smell is, humans are just too hard on themselves.

A team of researchers has determined that when it comes to estimating how good our sense of smell is, humans are just too hard on themselves.

We give huge kudos to dogs, which have a reputation for possessing far superior olfactory abilities, but a recent study says ours is pretty good, too.

By researchers’ estimates, people can differentiate between a trillion different aromas.

Conventional wisdom has historically placed the number at just 10 thousand, but the researchers point out that was just a guess and it was made back in the 1920s.

For years they’ve doubted that this was true, and say they’ve finally succeeded in proving it isn’t.

Clearly, they didn’t have people hang out in the lab and smell a trillion different things.

As humans smell by inhaling molecules, molecules are where they started.

They culled 128 varieties of molecules and combined them in mixtures using either 10, 20 or 30 in different concentrations that could theoretically represent trillions of odors.

They tried to stay away from familiar scents and ended up with unique, yet sometimes unpleasant, concoctions.

26 regular people were enlisted to start smelling, and, based on calculations and political pollster-like extrapolations, they determined on average, detection of a trillion aromas was, in fact, humanly possible.

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