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Smelling an Orange

It is generally known that large numbers of animals are able to sense extraordinarily weak odors. The real mystery is how they can smell scents that are a thousand times too weak to produce any type of chemical reaction at all – which is necessary to ignite a scent signal. Chemist say that the human sense of smell frequently functions at levels far above what would be considered normal. How is that possible? Why does that happen?

Oranges are delicious fruits. When a person bites into the fruit something interesting occurs. Microscopic droplets of juice burst into the air. When that happens, a chemical reaction occurs in the nose. Despite all of their research and investigations, scientists still aren’t certain how humans sense a wide variety of smells. People can detect at least one trillion distinct scents. It was while investigating that particular question that researchers happened upon the answer to another inquiry having to do with receptors in the nose. These receptors detect aroma molecules before even triggering any sort of chemical response that actually sends the signal that tells the person they have in fact smelled something! When the air is drawn into the nose an organ called the Stensen’s duct begins to spray a fine mist. Scientist always believed the mist was designed to humidify the nasal passage. They recently discovered this duct also creates a protein that grabs onto odor molecules. Sprayed into the air the protein collects these particles, and then seeks out the receptors on which they then rest. As a result of that, even though there are smells that should be a thousand times too weak to enjoy, humans still have that pleasure.

The sense of smell is often taken for granted. Studies show that 75% of emotions are triggered by smell which is linked to pleasure, well-being, emotion and memory. Incidentally, it’s easier for women to identify scents than men. Scientists say that’s because the orbital prefrontal region of women’s brains is more developed than men. While it certainly provides an enhancement to life in a variety of gratifying ways including taste, it also serves as a protection mechanism.

In short, the nose is more than a placeholder for glasses. It’s the center for breathing, which sustains physical and mental health, and the sense of smell, which influences emotions, memories and moods. This design would speak of something more than just indiscriminate and random processes. Don’t you think? I do.

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