Tuesday, March 30, 2010
A small organ known as Nose plays an important role in our lives. I am not talking about the most vital function of breathing in but it's about the olfactory function of the nose...smelling. How smelling is important can be understood from a simple fact that when we are down with common cold, we are unable to find similar taste in the food that we used to relish earlier. It's just because that our sense organ for smelling..Nose is not working properly that we cannot smell the food we are eating. Eating is not just about eating, its about enjoying the food with all of our sense organs. As I said earlier, various kind of smells provoke various emotions.How some smells make us feel happy like food, smell of freshly baked cookies wafting from the kitchen, smell of our loved ones, smell of mama's hands just after she has made delicious food for us. I still remember the smell of my grandma's hands when she used to put "prasad" in our mouth after pooja. That lovely smell coming from baby's body with all those baby powders and oils after they have been massaged and bathed. The smell of morning with all its glory, dew drops on leaves, smell of rain water on mud...aha that is a divine smell especially when the rain drops fall on a hot, muggy, sunny afternoon. Some smells make me nostalgic, like the smell of new book reminds me of starting of new sessions in class when we used to cover all our books and notebooks with brown papers. Going to a theater with its peculiar smell reminds me of our endless movie watching experience with family and that smell of popcorns and hot hot (read refried, stale!!!) samosas. Ohh...that smell of old blankets in which we cozy up with the family and eat loads of peanuts. Smell of freshly laundered cotton shirts.That sweet smell of rose...aha..and some smells we just would love to avoid as much as possible like that smell of sweat in a crowded place, smelly socks, men throwing gas bombs of ammonia (said with no offence!!!)...Ughh
Some facts about smell....
There are 6 basic types of smell: sweet, fruity, putrefaction-like, spicy, burned and paint (terebenthene).
For a chemical to have smell, it must spread its molecules in the air. That's why a cold dish smells less than a heated one: the vapors carry more of the scented molecules from the food.
Another condition is that the chemical dissolves in the water. That's why during the hot, wet weather we feel that smells are more intense. A field spreads its fragrances after a rainfall and the smell of the bath salts is detected more in a hot bath, no matter how diluted, than in the wrapping.
To feel better a smell we sniff, increasing voluntarily the speed of the air currents passing to the olfactory mucosa.
When we enter a room where something is being cooked, the smell is strong for us, while those inside do not even feel it. This is accommodation: after all the olfactory cells have been stimulated by a specific smell, they stop sending signals to the brain.
The air refreshers act by masking the smell: they do not wipe out the bad smell, but cover it, being more intense, like a loud sound covering other background sounds. How this covering happens is not known, as not all the smells can be covered; sometimes we feel the mix of smells.
From about 110,000 kinds of smells in nature, humans perceive just about 100-200. The smell of children is much finer and those working in the perfume industry can detect 600-800 smells! In women, the smell sense is strongest around the ovulation period, significantly stronger than during other parts of the menstrual cycle and also generally stronger in males.
The left nostril catches smells better than the right one. In 80 % of the people the nose is not exactly on the middle of the face, but to the right. This will enable them to detect the source of a smell, as the slight difference permits a comparison and direction detection. (like in the owls, which have their ears disposed asymmetrically to locate the source of a noise in the dark). 70 % of infections enter our body through the nose.