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The White Noise of Smell

Soulskill posted about a year and a half ago | from the make-this-into-a-cologne dept.

Science 82

Frosty P. writes "Scientists have discovered a new smell, but you may have to go to a laboratory to experience it yourself. The smell is dubbed 'olfactory white,' because it is the nasal equivalent of white noise, researchers report in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Just as white noise is a mixture of many different sound frequencies and white light is a mixture of many different wavelengths, olfactory white is a mixture of many different smells. In a series of experiments, they exposed participants to dozens of equally mixed smells, and what they discovered is that our brains treat smells as a single unit, not as a mixture of compounds to break down, analyze and put back together again."

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82 comments

So, whatzit smell like? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42084003)

Probably farts.

Re:So, whatzit smell like? (0)

MakersDirector (2767101) | about a year and a half ago | (#42084377)

Seriously, are they just now getting to understand that digital television and white noise is not information?

And that information itself has a form that can be sensed using olfactory glands that have been programmed to receive that information?

And that sniffing cocaine or Bath Salts is the quickest way to 'soak in' the information from alternate realities that the white noise comes from?

Re:So, whatzit smell like? (1)

TWX (665546) | about a year and a half ago | (#42084417)

No, that would be brown noise, or depending on one's diet, orangy-yellow noise.

Re:So, whatzit smell like? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42086667)

And visually, what would it be? Brown triangles?

not so sure about the sound analogy (5, Interesting)

Trepidity (597) | about a year and a half ago | (#42084027)

White noise is actually not perceptually neutral noise. It's mathematically random noise, with a flat power spectrum, meaning that for example the sound energy between 25-75 Hz is the same as that between 15000-15050 Hz. But because the human ear's perceptual loudness curve is not flat, the perceptual frequency distribution of white noise is not actually flat. To produce perceptually neutral noise, you need to apply the inverse of the human ear's perceptual loudness curve to white noise, which results in grey noise [wikipedia.org] .

But beyond that, it seems they actually mean something different, more like "perceived as indistinct background noise". That's a wider range of things, and has to do with being able to resolve specific, distracting components, not necessarily with mathematical definitions of noise.

Re:not so sure about the sound analogy (2)

Samantha Wright (1324923) | about a year and a half ago | (#42084133)

I'm guessing they got it confused with white light, which the authors mention in the abstract. (And hey, what's a normalization curve between friends?) But you're right, a paper on perceptual physiology should not have made that glaring a mistake.

Re:not so sure about the sound analogy (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42097689)

I'm guessing they got it confused with white light, which the authors mention in the abstract. (And hey, what's a normalization curve between friends?) But you're right, a paper on perceptual physiology should not have made that glaring a mistake.

Why not? The people doing research are not superhumans. There's a million and one things to keep track of in each of a million different fields. A lot of hokum and hooey seeps through the cracks and you would be surprised what scientists do and don't know in their own field.

Re:not so sure about the sound analogy (1)

Samantha Wright (1324923) | about a year and a half ago | (#42098203)

...I would make arguments about how it's in the second sentence of a paper submitted to a relatively prestigious journal that should have editors to check for this kind of thing, but... a quick fact-check reveals that the criticism was wrong in the first place. Google Scholar returns 27,800 papers for '"white noise" physiology' and only 11 for '"grey noise" physiology'. The term is almost unused.

Re:not so sure about the sound analogy (2)

elfprince13 (1521333) | about a year and a half ago | (#42084239)

From the summary, I think they're talking about a random composition of smells. Perceptual neutrality is related to our brains ability to adjust to a shifting noise floor. As a Vermonter, I'm used to doing this with smell on an annual basis [wikipedia.org] .

Re:not so sure about the sound analogy (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42084303)

True grey noise would kill you. The 19999.9Hz component that's being amplified 10^20 times so you can hear it would blow up your head by mechanical action.

Re:not so sure about the sound analogy (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42084767)

True grey noise would kill you. The 19999.9Hz component that's being amplified 10^20 times so you can hear it would blow up your head by mechanical action.

Assuming that you normalize the noise based on the 400Hz amplitude or whatever.
If you use the 19999.9Hz as a reference and attenuate the rest of the frequencies from that to get grey noise it won't.

Re:not so sure about the sound analogy (1)

Gordonjcp (186804) | about a year and a half ago | (#42085863)

I don't know about you, but at 39 I can still hear 20kHz just fine.

Re:not so sure about the sound analogy (1)

iggymanz (596061) | about a year ago | (#42087287)

I too am one of those males that has hearing extending above the normal human high range described as belonging to "children and some young women". I grew up hearing the scream of 17.5kHz flyback transformers in TV, but now it is the 20-25kHz ballast in more than half of the flourescent bulbs that annoys the hell out of me. I'm 48 years old

Re:not so sure about the sound analogy (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42087611)

You're quite possibly hearing harmonics rather than the fundamental tone. I can "hear" florescents too, but I can't hear anything above 16 KHz.

Re:not so sure about the sound analogy (1)

Lumpy (12016) | about a year ago | (#42088279)

How did you test this? If you used your computer speakers, then you did not hear it. very few speakers and computers can actually generate a clean tone above 16Khz.

By using a real signal generator with frequency counter and a studio grade horn tweeter I found I have a roll off starting at 22Khz at the age of 45. I also discovered the tinnitus I have is at 15.53Khz and a reverse waveform will NOT eliminate it. I was hoping the mind would resolve the polarity of what it "hears" so I could use technology to get rid of that ringing that drives me mad at times....

Re:not so sure about the sound analogy (1)

Hognoxious (631665) | about a year ago | (#42088635)

Perhaps he had reason to visit an audiologist? They're in the yellow pages, under "E".

Re:not so sure about the sound analogy (1)

Gordonjcp (186804) | about a year and a half ago | (#42093245)

Harmonics would be higher, not lower.

Re:not so sure about the sound analogy (1)

DriedClexler (814907) | about a year and a half ago | (#42084975)

To produce perceptually neutral noise, you need to apply the inverse of the human ear's perceptual loudness curve to white noise, which results in grey noise

For similar reasons, to produce a smell that perceptually blends out and obscures other smells, you would have to take into account the receptors of nose you want to obscure it from, and what molecules it's most sensitive to.

This means "olfactory grey" would be different between species, possibly between individuals.

hah (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42084031)

In your faces, cork sniffers!

Brown Noise (1)

Ranger (1783) | about a year and a half ago | (#42084037)

Well, we all know what the brown noise of smell is.

Re:Brown Noise (1)

lobiusmoop (305328) | about a year and a half ago | (#42084091)

Funny because it's kind-of true. Brown noise is the most 'natural' of the noise types, it sounds like rain or wind.

Re:Brown Noise (1)

wonkey_monkey (2592601) | about a year and a half ago | (#42084301)

Wasn't "brown noise" also - possibly apocryphally - a certain very low, very loud tone which could, how shall I put it, upset the stomachs of anyone nearby?

Re:Brown Noise (1)

Ranger (1783) | about a year and a half ago | (#42084329)

Yes. The "brown noise" was the subject of a South Park episode. Here's a relevant clip. [southparkstudios.com]

Haha, you're a fart smeller! -er- smart feller! (1)

Press2ToContinue (2424598) | about a year and a half ago | (#42084135)

Thanks for sharing, er, or not.

Re:Brown Noise (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42088561)

Dubstep

Olfactory Brown (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42084057)

Is that olfactory brown noise or did you just shit your pants?

Sounds just right for the bathroom... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42084065)

Your sense of smell has practical value. It allows you to perceive environment threats of which you would otherwise have no indication. Setting yourself or anyone else up to be crippled from doing so is simple manipulation and potentially detrimental.

It would be perfect for masking the smell of Soilant Green in the Brave New World of homogeneity that mass production has always promised for humanity.

You can greatly reduce (4, Funny)

Jafafa Hots (580169) | about a year and a half ago | (#42084087)

the amount of "white smell" if you use Dolby Nose Reduction.

Personally I think analog smells are way more realistic than digital.

Re:You can greatly reduce (1)

The Grim Reefer (1162755) | about a year and a half ago | (#42084251)

>

Personally I think analog smells are way more realistic than digital.

Well duh.

Digital smell- You smell it or you don't

Re:You can greatly reduce (1)

Jafafa Hots (580169) | about a year and a half ago | (#42084349)

Well there is error-correction for reproducing the lost smell bits, but it tends to make everything smell like bacon.

Re:You can greatly reduce (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42084591)

If you experience digital smell, enjoy it or wash your hands.

Re:You can greatly reduce (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42089513)

I hate you guys, lol

Re:You can greatly reduce (2)

Sulphur (1548251) | about a year and a half ago | (#42084275)

the amount of "white smell" if you use Dolby Nose Reduction.

Personally I think analog smells are way more realistic than digital.

But you need vacuum tubes to properly reproduce it.

Re:You can greatly reduce (1)

Shavano (2541114) | about a year and a half ago | (#42084455)

Unlikely. I find I can't smell in a vacuum.

Re:You can greatly reduce (1)

Sulphur (1548251) | about a year and a half ago | (#42086119)

Unlikely. I find I can't smell in a vacuum.

That and the smell sucks.

Smells as a "single unit" (4, Interesting)

Kargan (250092) | about a year and a half ago | (#42084249)

This is one of the differences between humans and animals, such as dogs, for instance. Dogs smell each component separately.

This is why they make such good detectors for things like explosives or drugs -- they are still capable of pulling the "bomb" smell out of a complex mix of smells or when the smell is deliberately being masked, thanks in part to their highly adapted vomeronasal organ, also called the Jacobson's organ.

http://www.whole-dog-journal.com/issues/7_11/features/Canine-Sense-of-Smell_15668-1.html [whole-dog-journal.com]

Re:Smells as a "single unit" (2)

Shavano (2541114) | about a year and a half ago | (#42084461)

If they smelled each chemical individually they wouldn't be able to identify people by smell, which they can. Their sense of smell works the same as ours. They just have better resolution and sensitivity.

Re:Smells as a "single unit" (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42084581)

Not true. [youtube.com]

Re:Smells as a "single unit" (2)

adolf (21054) | about a year and a half ago | (#42084589)

If they smelled each chemical individually they wouldn't be able to identify people by smell, which they can.

This is non sequitur, to say the least.

It is like saying "If they sorted the apples from the oranges individually they wouldn't be able to recognize a reindeer, which they can."

In other words: It doesn't make sense.

Please try again.

Re:Smells as a "single unit" (1)

jonadab (583620) | about a year and a half ago | (#42107045)

The other poster was assuming that the individual olfactory components of an individual person's smell (as distinct from other humans), on a per-compound basis, change from day to day.

Admittedly, this is not common knowledge, so it would have been nice to see a citation -- but this is Slashdot, so sometimes we have to make some allowances.

Re:Smells as a "single unit" (1)

ahabswhale (1189519) | about a year and a half ago | (#42085339)

http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/nature/dogs-sense-of-smell.html [pbs.org]

Sounds to me like they can smell each chemical individually.

Re:Smells as a "single unit" (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42089343)

Wait. Did you just link to a Youtube video of a guy pimping his "how not to get busted with weed" DVDs that are for sale and hold it up as proof dogs can smell single smells and not one smell? Really?

Re:Smells as a "single unit" (1)

gl4ss (559668) | about a year ago | (#42086697)

well, you read each letter individually.

still you can recognize the words.

Re:Smells as a "single unit" (1)

Shavano (2541114) | about a year and a half ago | (#42093365)

My point was that "dogs smell each component separately" appears completely unfounded. Dogs are extraordinarily good at detecting FAINT smells and identifying specific PATTERNS. That doesn't imply that they use a different METHOD of collecting and processing olfactory data.

Re:Smells as a "single unit" (1)

rikxik (1337017) | about a year and a half ago | (#42084735)

My python Monty has Jacobson's organ as well but people just aint as receptive!

Re:Smells as a "single unit" (1, Troll)

VortexCortex (1117377) | about a year and a half ago | (#42085387)

This is why they make such good detectors for things like explosives or drugs

Oh really? I thought they made such good detectors because they can take cues from the body language of their trainers, thus validating a "hunch" and allowing an in for imaginary probable cause... I mean, an electronic chem sniffer would be far more accurate, thus inferior.

Or, do you really believe that horses and dogs can do math?

Re:Smells as a "single unit" (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42086695)

Actually, yes - They are doing math. They just don't know they are doing it.

Re:Smells as a "single unit" (2)

fafalone (633739) | about a year and a half ago | (#42085857)

Well this was just brought up in another thread, so I'll correct it again here. Dogs are terrible detectors for drugs, being wrong anywhere from 50% of the time to 85% of the time depending on the circumstances.
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/radley-balko/supreme-court-considers-t_1_b_2063820.html [huffingtonpost.com]

Although this is mainly attributable to them wanting to please their handler or picking up on the handlers body language. And personally I watched a dog search 32 jail cells once, it alerted in 8 of them, drugs were found in zero of those (and good lord did they ever tear them apart), and at least 3 cells the dog didn't alert to actually had drugs in them.

Re:Smells as a "single unit" (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42086759)

There is no evidence dogs smell components separately. There is every indication that they perceive a unified percept, as we do. They just have better resolution.

The sources you quote are all popular science. I work in the olfactory system and I've never come across a primary reference that makes the claim you made. In fact, few people study dog olfaction at all.

Re:Smells as a "single unit" (1)

Harvey Manfrenjenson (1610637) | about a year ago | (#42087435)

I'm curious now to know-- how many different odors can a (properly trained) human reliably identify when they are presented simultaneously? Like the parent poster, I'm pretty sure that the answer is more than "one". I also suspect that the answer depends on what combination of odor molecules is used. (E.g., perhaps we could identify three simultaneous odorants if they all belonged to different "genera"... floral, vinegary, and bitter... but maybe it would be harder if all three were floral.) Anyway, it wouldn't be hard to design an experiment to find out.

I've actually wondered about this question in the context of cooking. There are certain chefs (Paul Prudhomme is the worst example) who tend to combine literally dozens of different flavors/odorants together-- this has always annoyed me, since I've always imagined the result would be "noisy" and muddled (in the sense that many of the flavors can no longer be distinguished, and are thus wasted)...

Re:Smells as a "single unit" (1)

Hognoxious (631665) | about a year ago | (#42088791)

I'm not a professional chef, but I'm a competent cook. I can certainly pick out individual flavours to the extent that I've been able to reproduce, in one or two attempts, meals I've eaten at restaurants.

Also (and I don't know where I heard/read this - inflight magazine?) it goes against the theory of perfume design, which is that it sort of works like a musical chord, with a bass, middle and top.

Mongo Declares Project Blazing Saddles (1)

CyberSlammer (1459173) | about a year and a half ago | (#42084369)

A huge success!

Not a surprising result (1)

Shavano (2541114) | about a year and a half ago | (#42084439)

... given that the function of smell in animals is to allow them to identify specific objects and substances.

That's what the olfactory cortex is for: pattern recognition. It's a lot more useful to identify "smells like a wet dog" than have a report that lists all the chemical components of wetdogness in a list.

Hey (3, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42084451)

Speaking as someone with a seriously sensitive sense of smell... THE WORLD FUCKING STINKS!

Every person is walking around in a cloud of their own personal products. Aftershave, cologne, perfume, FUCK that god dammed axe shit, body lotions, makeups, hairsprays, nail polishes, air fresheners, smoke residue, food residue and sooooooo many other nasty smells because honestly most of you are not very dammed clean either. And you just try to cover that up.

And i call bullshit on this article. I can pick out individual smells in those massive clouds. And i don't like it. The natural world smells ok. Very low key. But the human world? Jebus wept...

Unfortunatly there doesn't seem to be an upside to this. Theres no job for human drug dog. Altho i suppose i won't ever accidentally eat bad food. Or die in a gas leak.

Re:Hey (2)

ryzvonusef (1151717) | about a year and a half ago | (#42085659)

Speaking as an Anosmiac, the world *stills* fucking stinks... only I can't use my nose to avoid the stink...

Count your blessings bro/sis because you have never experienced the other side...my eating habits are a total mess because what seems perfectly normal and delectable to others feels absolutely disgusting to eat for me... I never know when I am danger of gas leaks, and I have sat still with the gas leaking, only for a relative to come in and start a panic. My dreams of chemistry education dashed because I could never smell those darn chemicals (Once my beaker of H2S leaked, and here I was standing wondering what the hell is going on, while every one runs away from the lab....)I have been tricked into disgusting things, and once have been pranked by having been sprayed on by a stink-spray, and not realising I was walking around the school being as aromatically pleasing as Pepe le Peu...

Life sucks, so grin and bear it.

Re:Hey (2)

sjames (1099) | about a year and a half ago | (#42085739)

Hear Hear!

The worst part is that the 'perfumes' they put in so many products smells FAR worse than the natural smell of the product. The artificial 'floral scents' smell NOTHING like the actual flowers to me. I can't even guess which flower they're supposed to smell like.

Re:Hey (1)

Hognoxious (631665) | about a year ago | (#42088935)

Well, I've got to agree with you on that one. I once bought scented bog roll by mistake, I'll fuck the pope if it didn't smell better after it was used.

And have you ever tried Axe deodorant? They seem to change the range twice a week but there's always one that does time travel; spray it on and you smell exactly like you would in eight hours if you didn't put any on at all.

Re:Hey (1)

sjames (1099) | about a year ago | (#42089541)

I can believe it. I avoid Axe just based on the smell as I approach it. I just use alum since it has no appreciable small.

Re:Hey (1)

Uzuri (906298) | about a year and a half ago | (#42204031)

This this this.

And what's the deal with scenting cat litter? First it reeks of that fake "scent", then it reeks of cat pee + the fake scent. This is not an improvement over straight cat pee.

Re:Hey (2)

reboot246 (623534) | about a year and a half ago | (#42085987)

I agree with you. My sense of smell is extremely sensitive. Being around people in a social situation is a horrible experience. The chemicals people use to mask their smells are worse than what they're trying to cover up. Simple pure clean is much preferred, though that doesn't last long.

To me odors have texture and color. They can be smooth, rough, dusty, soft, bright yellow, dull red, etc..

Re:Hey (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42086929)

Agreed. And outright painful.

IE. the soap aisle in the stores... Hold your breath and make a dash for your one product in there. You can't hang around and shop anywhere near it.

And still come out after just 30 seconds with red eyes, running nose, sneezing, sinus pain and your clothes reeking for hours.

I cant imagine what being exposed to all those chemicals in the air really does to people. Nothing good i imagine.

Re:Hey (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42088495)

Agreed. And outright painful.

IE. the soap aisle in the stores... Hold your breath and make a dash for your one product in there. You can't hang around and shop anywhere near it.

And still come out after just 30 seconds with red eyes, running nose, sneezing, sinus pain and your clothes reeking for hours.

I cant imagine what being exposed to all those chemicals in the air really does to people. Nothing good i imagine.

It's like you have the superpower of being a complainy bitch!

Re:Hey (1)

Hognoxious (631665) | about a year ago | (#42088945)

IE. the soap aisle in the stores... Hold your breath and make a dash for your one product in there. You can't hang around and shop anywhere near it.

I see - or perhaps smell - what you did there.

Re:Hey (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42092097)

Porphyrogenic reaction to the high concentration of all the toxins in that isle.

If this happens to you then you have a lot of homework to do in arcane places, and your life will change so much for the better over time.

Good luck, it takes all one's self discipline and self awareness to discover all the porphyrogenic substances one regularly exposes ones self to, and likely eats (Grapefruit, not so good in large amounts), take your time, don't become overwhelmed making positive changes while reducing the dangerous toxins surrounding you and your loved ones.

Porphyrogenic reactions can be hereditary (any Vikings, or Huguenots or S. Africans in your blood line?) or acquired through exposure to certain pesticides/biocides (Chlorpyrifos and others) and it gets worse as one ages, be aware now, save yourself a life of misery an potential poverty, it happened to me and many others who didn't understand the life changing power (for the worse) of a dysfunctional Cytochrome P450 system.

It's much easier to ignore this caution, I know...

Re:Hey (1)

jonadab (583620) | about a year and a half ago | (#42107191)

I can see how odors might be described as having texture, in the loose sense of the word "texture". The timbre of sounds could also be described this way. A "smooth" sound might have relatively little variation in pitch from microsecond to microsecond and relatively few or relatively harmonically compatible frequencies at any given instant. A "rough" sound in contrast might have rapidly shifting and/or dissonant overtones and undertones. Something similar (albeit probably not time-based) could be said of smells: the different components might go well together or not, might be balanced well against one another or not, and so on.

However, if you think odors have color, I'm pretty sure you're experiencing something that isn't inherent in the odor itself. You might have a mild case of synesthesia in addition to your strong sense of smell (or else an over-active imagination).

Re:Hey (1)

TheSkepticalOptimist (898384) | about a year and a half ago | (#42098463)

Just eat beans and cabbage to fight against people that are overly perfumed or reek of stale cigarettes. Everybody loves the smell of their own farts, so walking around in a cloud of it should make you happy.

This is not a new discovery. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42084565)

In a series of experiments, they exposed participants to dozens of equally mixed smells, and what they discovered is that our brains treat smells as a single unit, not as a mixture of compounds to break down, analyze and put back together again."

This is exactly why they use dogs to sniff for narcotics and weapons. [youtube.com]

A Question for Any Aspies Out There (3, Interesting)

cervesaebraciator (2352888) | about a year and a half ago | (#42084687)

Just trying to understand how others experience the world, so please forgive me if I ask an obtuse question. I watched a video [vimeo.com] the other day which had been described by some with Asperger's as a very accurate depiction of their experience of a meltdown. What I noticed from the video, above all, was the way things that would have blended together as white noise for me demanded constant attention, as much as I wanted to ignore them.

So my question is this: if what I took from the video was in anyway accurate (if not, just let me know), does anything analogous happen with smells as well? I.e. as individual sights and sounds do not equalize to manageable or meaningful levels, do smells also each cry out for individual attention?

White Noise Smell (3, Funny)

PPH (736903) | about a year and a half ago | (#42084815)

Also known as "locker room".

It smells like chicken (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42085225)

Because chickens smell like everything.

It smells like Vanilla... (1)

flyingfsck (986395) | about a year and a half ago | (#42085279)

Plain vanilla.

Re:It smells like Vanilla... (2)

spongman (182339) | about a year and a half ago | (#42085867)

Vanilla isn't plain. IMO.

Re:It smells like Vanilla... (1)

jonadab (583620) | about a year and a half ago | (#42107397)

Most Americans perceive vanilla as plain, because as a rule vanilla products here have exactly the same amount of vanilla in them as other products. A white cake may have a teaspoon of vanilla in it. A chocolate cake will have a teaspoon of vanilla in it plus a quarter cup or more of cocoa powder. A carrot cake will also have a teaspoon of vanilla, plus carrot shavings and an assortment of spices. Similarly, vanilla icing has the same amount of vanilla in it as chocolate icing or strawberry icing or mint icing or lemon icing. Vanilla ice cream has the same amount of vanilla in it as chocolate or fudge ripple or strawberry swirl or rocky road or moose tracks.

There is a flavor of ice cream called "french vanilla", which has several times as much vanilla in it as other flavors. However, it also has other differences (notably, more heavy cream in lieu of milk), so on the whole it's not a very good reflection of actual vanilla flavor. Also, cheap brands of "french vanilla" may not actually have that much vanilla in them.

If you take a recipe for vanilla something-or-another and substitute additional vanilla extract in lieu of some other liquid (ideal would be to replace water, because in that case the change won't have much impact on texture; but most recipes don't call for water, so you may have to adapt), you can find out what vanilla actually tastes like. But most Americans have never done this.

Measurent of smells (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42085519)

This reminds me of something I've been wondering about for a while: is there a way to digitize smells, or otherwise come up with a baseline of communicating smells between people? If I want to show a friend something visible, I take a picture. If I want him to hear it, I make a recording. How do I do that for an odor? Is that even possible?

White noise smell (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42085969)

Smells like....
  a) chicken
  b) teen spirit
  c) victory

easily experienced (1)

nimbius (983462) | about a year ago | (#42087045)

when walking into a bath and body works, or yankee candle store.

White Noise Smell (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42087453)

Sort of like a fart after eating a quater-pounder with cheese, sans fries.

I want to test it.... (2)

Lumpy (12016) | about a year ago | (#42088289)

Will "white nose" smell cause a bloodhound to not be able to follow the scent? This may be the holy grail of hunter scent masking.

Smell-O-Scope (1)

CosaNostra Pizza Inc (1299163) | about a year and a half ago | (#42090455)

tested by Prof Farnsworth's Smell-O-Scope.

I call BS (1)

hesaigo999ca (786966) | about a year and a half ago | (#42097131)

If i can only discern 1 smell at a time, as one mix of a smell, i would not be able to tell you have BO AND use old spice could I?

Re:I call BS (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42113825)

That's an abstraction of your mind, because you know what they smell like individually. If you had never encountered any smells before, and you smelled that as your first smell, you would think it its own smell, completely independent of any other smell.

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