The nose knows a trillion scents

A new study suggests the human nose can detect more than that many different odors

By Stephen Ornes, 08:45 AM April 7, 2014

The human nose can detect more than a trillion different odors. Getting that number took a lot of smelly work. Fortunately, scientists found dozens of volunteers willing to help out.


There had been a long-standing claim that people could detect 10,000 different scents. That estimate was way small. The new research suggests the real number is 10,000 times bigger. Scientists had thought the old number might need revising. The new study certainly supports that.


“We’re visual animals, but this ne...

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