So what are THE SMELLS? Take it away, Science! Working with a standard set of data, Andrew Dravniek's 1985 Atlas of Odor Character Profiles, the researchers applied a mathematical method to simplify the olfactory information into coherent categories, similar to the way compressing a digital audio or image file reduces the file's size without, ideally, compromising its usefulness. The team identified 10 basic odor qualities: fragrant, woody/resinous, fruity (non-citrus), chemical, minty/peppermint, sweet, popcorn, lemon and two kinds of sickening odors: pungent and decayed.
On a mild April night some years ago, I walked past a college dorm in New Haven and smelled something I couldn’t place. It reminded me vaguely of swimming pools. Was it chlorine? I sniffed again, more deeply than before. Suddenly I knew exactly what it was and hurried away, internally berating an unseen teenage boy. A few evenings later, in the same spot, I smelled it again. Filled with a sense of moral outrage I looked around, I looked up, and identified the culprit: A tree.
More precisely, a Callery Pear, or Pyrus calleryana, a deciduous tree that’s common throughout North America. It blossoms in early spring and produces [...]
Today's Odor: Hot mothballs in a manure fire. Gentle kisses of body odor stained carpet.
— Gowanus Canal (@Gowanus_Daily) November 20, 2012
"It is the nasal equivalent of white noise, researchers report today 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 smelly compounds." —Hoping that the Gowanus Canal's "Today's Odor" is the newly discovered "olfactory white" soon.