Dismiss Notice
Join Physics Forums Today!
The friendliest, high quality science and math community on the planet! Everyone who loves science is here!

The power of smell?

  1. Aug 13, 2003 #1


    User Avatar
    Science Advisor

    First of all, what exactly is smell? It seems to me to be one of the most powerfull forces on earth. Think about it, what else will clear a crowded room quicker then strategely placed stink bombs?

    Seriously though, has anyone ventured out far enough as to discover what exactly smell is?
  2. jcsd
  3. Aug 14, 2003 #2


    User Avatar

  4. Aug 15, 2003 #3
    Smell/taste is the most primative (in terms of origins) of all the senses. Even bacteria smell/taste their environment. It is the chemical sensory organ/sense. Though we differentiate smell and taste, for the sake of this discussion, I am considering the same.

    Smell, being most primative, is the quickest to illicit a powerful emotional or attractive/repulsive reaction. Unlike intense light and sound, smell illicits no pain reactions, but still triggers a powerful repulsive reaction (in cases of repulsive smells). A smell can trigger a memory quicker and more reliably than any other sense. For most animals, smell is considered one of the most important senses, used for hunting, avoiding predators, finding mates, and identifying friends.
    Last edited: Aug 15, 2003
  5. Aug 15, 2003 #4
    I think I read somewhere that there are two ways a man can smell. One will be like a girl's father/brother etc., and they won't be sexually attracted to that one. They'll love the other one, though...
  6. Aug 17, 2003 #5

    I don't follow what you mean when
    you say smell/taste is the most
    primitive of sences in terms of
    origins. I think the word "prim-
    itive" is bothering me.

    Although it is easy to see that
    taste and smell are more closely
    related than, for example, vision
    and smell, I don't believe it is
    accurate to regard them as the
    same sence, for the sake of this
    discussion. How do you arrive at
    the conclusion they can be regard-
    ed as the same sence? What is the
    similarity? My concern is that you
    are oversimplifying things.

  7. Aug 17, 2003 #6
    I'm not sure if you mean PF post-
    ers or biologists. If you mean the latter then you would be aston-
    ished at how much research has
    gone into all of our sences.Not
    just the five that are commonly
    ticked off when naming the sences
    but a few more people don't even
    realize they have. (I don't mean

    It is interesting that alot of
    money is spent researching the
    sence of smell for purely com-
    mercial reasons by perfume compan-
    ies. Much of this research is guarded as an industrial secret.

Share this great discussion with others via Reddit, Google+, Twitter, or Facebook