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What’s in a smell?

https://www.sciencefocus.com/the-human-body/whats-in-a-smell/

sciencefocus.com

What’s in a smell?
We teamed up with the folks behind BBC World Service’s CrowdScience to answer your questions on one topic - this week it's all about smell.

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How smell works

How smell works
  • Odour molecules that move through the air up your nostrils will bind to special smell receptors on the surface of nerve cells.
  • The nerve cells send a signal to the brain's olfactory bulb, that is behind the bridge of the nose.
  • People have about 400 different smell receptor types.
  • The odour molecules create a pattern of activation in the nerve cells that the brain translates as a smell.

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How we react to certain smells

  • Smells can alert us about danger - we're repulsed by the smell of sewage and rotting food.
  • We don't all respond to odour molecules in the same way.
  • Butyric acid contributes to the smell of both Parmesan cheese and vomit, so it may smell offputting or appealing, depending on the situation.

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When we lose our sense of smell

A complete loss of smell, known as anosmia, can occur after a cold, sinus infection or even a bump to the head.

Anosmia affects the flavour of food. However, it isn't always permanent and may recover naturally or through exercises like 'smell training' to re-stimulate the olfactory system.

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The olfactory sense at work

The olfactory sense at work

Our sense of smell works in wondrous ways since the chemical composition of our surrounding change instantly and constantly. Our noses pick up volatile airborne compounds that interact with...

Facts about our olfactory sense

  • It is different from other sensory cortices in a way that it has a multidimensional stimulus.
  • Some things can smell different not just between different people but also for the same person.
  • Can measure an array of an uncertain variety of chemicals that can trace changes that detects pleasure, pain, or danger.
  • It does not require a map mirroring because its chemical stimulus is constantly changing. It relies on the brain to recognize the pattern or memory associated with the smell.

Contributors to the study of the olfactory sense

  • Santiago Ramón y Cajal: A founding father of neuroscience, he drew attention to the sense of smell as an exemplary model to learn how the brain makes sense of the world. He also believed that understanding smell would grant us better insight into other sensory systems
  • Linda Buck & Richard Axel: They discovered the olfactory receptors which happened to be the most structurally diverse and sizable member of the largest multi-gene family of protein receptors. They received the 2004 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine.

Our Sense Of Smell And Our Memories

Our Sense Of Smell And Our Memories

Certain smells that are associated in our minds to events or locations from the past, trigger our memories to revisit them. This association of the past through the sense of smell works bet...

The Memory Association

According to a 2004 research, the sense of smell is a complicated process.

  • The olfactory receptor cells send a neuron signal to a part of our brain which is called the olfactory bulb.
  • This multistep process which involves over a thousand genes and the nerves connect to the amygdala of the brain, the area responsible for processing emotions.
  • It also connects to the memory and cognition area called the hippocampus, forming the association.

Teleportation

Teleportation

Teleportation is the idea in which we step into a sort of scanner and instantaneously find ourselves somewhere else.

There are two ways this can'(t) be done: physical deconstruction at x and...

Teleportation is possible in principle

Recently, scientists were able to "teleport" photons to a satellite 300 miles away, using "quantum entanglement." This is where a pair of photons are able to simultaneously share the same state, even when separated by distance. Change the state of one particle, and the other changes too.

Teleportation can have big implications for a new “quantum internet.” It will be faster, more powerful, unhackable. 

Teleporting humans

Scientists are still working out how to teleport photons. Assuming they figure out how to teleport atoms, then molecules, the amount of bits to record and transmit, is unthinkable.

A person is made of an estimated 32 trillion cells. They would require a huge bandwidth and roughly 10th gigawatt-hours of power. Teleporting one person would require using the entire UK power supply for more than a million years and take 4.8 million million years to transfer - that is if you survive the transfer. It would be quicker to walk.

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