we smell a lot

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The internet is abuzz with news from a recent study at Rockefeller University and the Howard Hughes Medical Institute claiming a breakthrough in our understanding of human olfaction. Despite long-held beliefs that human ability to smell is poor by comparison to our sense of sight and the olfactory ability of other mammals, Dr. Andreas Keller and his team now have compelling evidence that we can smell a great deal if we pay attention, up to the trillions of distinct odors. Time to start training our brains to work harder on all that enters our mouth and nostrils!

For more information on similar work defending the human sense of smell and taste, check out John Prescott’s Taste Matters, Gordon Shepherd’s Neurogastronomy, and Hervé This’ Molecular Gastronomy.

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an ideal lexicon of smell

European linguists Asifa Majid of Radboud University, and Niclas Burenhul of Lund Universty have found that a small Malaysian population has the most extensive and precise vocabulary for a range of odors.  We may do well to translate these parts of the Jahai language to an English odorese.