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How Many Smells Can You Smell?

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We walk through life led by our noses. Literally. Because they're on the front of our faces. The sense of smell might be one of the oldest, but how does the science of smell work? How sensitive are our noses? Why are smell-related memories so vivid? How many different smells could we possibly smell? Find out in this week's It's Okay To Be Smart!

Check out this amazing essay on smell from Lewis Thomas (1980), it's a beautiful piece of science writing: http://cplab.net/heap/on-smell/

Evolution of human olfactory receptor genes: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC218742/

Pseudogenes in olfactory system: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12644552

The nose as an emotional time machine: http://www.nytimes.com/2008/08/05/science/05angier.html?_r=2&

Smell memories are often the most vivid: http://aeon.co/magazine/psychology/why-is-food-so-potent-in-evoking-the-memories-of-childhood/

Sperm olfactory receptors: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16413109

How many smells can we smell?
https://neuroecology.wordpress.com/2014/11/04/how-many-smells-can-a-smelly-person-smell-1-trillion-or-10/
http://www.sciencemag.org/content/343/6177/1370

You and Your Senses, starring Jiminy Cricket: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Kxcy6uMVH74

Have an idea for an episode or an amazing science question you want answered? Leave a comment below!

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It's Okay To Be Smart is written and hosted by Joe Hanson, Ph.D
Email me: itsokaytobesmart AT gmail DOT com
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/itsokaytobesmart
For more awesome science, check out: http://www.itsokaytobesmart.com
Produced for PBS Digital Studios

Joe Hanson - Creator/Host/Writer
Joe Nicolosi - Director
Amanda Fox - Producer, Spotzen Inc
Kate Eads - Associate Producer
Andrew Matthews - Editing/Motion Graphics
Katie Graham - Director of Photography
John Knudsen - Gaffer
Dalton Allen - Post-Production Intern

Theme music:
"Ouroboros" by Kevin MacLeod

Other music via APM

Stock images from Shutterstock

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