You know the smell. It’s hard to describe, but the second you step on an airplane, a flood of familiarity flies up your nostrils. Airplane smell is equal parts comforting and off-putting. And it’s actually a little bit dangerous. But what is it exactly?
That lovely, earthy smell after the rain has a name: petrichor. Exactly what causes petrichor, however, is unknown. Armed with high-speed cameras, MIT scientists have found that the interface where raindrop hits earth is a little more complicated than you might expect.
Space may be a vacuum, but at least aboard the International Space Station, smells still have plenty of room to waft. And considering the ISS has 6 living, breathing, excreting human beings living in such close proximity, some of those smells could get to be a major problem. Fortunately, NASA's accounted for that.
Think New York summers are pungent now? Imagine what it must've smelled like at the turn of the 20th century. Before the introduction of the automobile, horses were leaving about 2.5 million pounds of shit in the streets per day.
George Aldrich has been working with NASA for nearly 40 years doing one job: he smells things that are about to go to space. Seriously. Aldrich uses his nose to its full potential, sniffing everything around him to give NASA a report on what is allowed to go to space and what is not.
On a recent evening in San Francisco, a couple dozen well-dressed and hiply bespectacled young people leaned over glass cones and inhaled. The purpose? Time travel.
London was the place to be this past New Year's Eve. While you had your ball in New York City and your party in Sydney, London was home to the world's first multi-sensory fireworks display. You could literally taste the celebration.
It turns out that the nose is not the only organ capable of sensing and distinguishing odors. But rather than perceiving them as the sense of smell, our lungs react to the presence of noxious chemicals by triggering an automatic response: a cough.
Sometimes your stuff gets smelly. Whether it's because you're smelly or just a victim of some wayward stench, it sucks, and it's a problem worth fixing. You, dear Giz readers, responded to my desperate call for solutions, and here a few of the stand outs y'all came up with.
I went camping last weekend, but now that I'm back in the Great Indoors, the occasional whiff of campfire smoke is getting a bit less fun. Sooner or later, clothes will be washed and time will fix the rest of the problem spots (I'm looking at you, pillow), but until then I need a short-term solution; what's the best…
Stale tobacco smell. It clings to clothing, permeates wall paint, saturates upholstery, and brands everything it touches with that unmistakable scent. Here's how to keep from smelling like an ashtray just because your roommate won't show the common courtesy of cracking a window.
It was originally developed for use in hospitals where nurses have to deal with diaper and bedpan changes all day long, but this instantaneous deodorizer would probably be gladly embraced by parents with a new addition at home.
The results of a study conducted by Johan Lundström and several of his colleagues at the Monell Chemical Senses Center indicate the "old person smell" is, in fact, a distinct and distinctly identifiable odor.
Exhaust fans and open windows only go so far toward eliminating foul odors. Making your sniffer happy oftentimes requires something extra, like baking powder, vinegar or special charcoal. For smells that make you run out of the room holding your nose, try these tricks:
The smell of a new car is intoxicating. It reminds us of money and shiny objects. It evokes that golden period before repeat coffee stains, moldy Tupperware, and our trunk's transformation into a Good Will depository change the way we feel about our car.
Amber Jones is the author of New York, Phew York, a scratch and sniff book that captures the smells of New York City.
You know phones? Those functional communication and content-deliver devices that we carry around in our wallets and purses and use our mouths to speak into and fingers to poke at? You know what they need? A fragrance chip. To smell pretty. Apparently.
Throw away that musty old bacon cologne; there's a new eau de piglette here to make sweet porky love to your nostrils. Que, from Pork Barrel BBQ, was forged from the sweet crackling char of Mt. Oink.
Have you ever wondered whether people's armpits have different odors depending on whether they're left-handed or right-handed? Or if certain armpit scents are more masculine than others? Some brave armpit science experts have the answers.
Smells make a vivid impression, but are nearly impossible to describe. Scientists have just created 'perfumery radar' - a classification system of smells that may pin down the elusive phenomenon.