The Secret of Smell | Popular Science

The Secret of Smell

Humans have the capacity to pick up as many as 10,000 different odors, but for most of us, many of the genes controlling our sense of those smells have shut down business.

Now researchers at the Weizmann Institute of Science are reporting that a particular gene controls an individual's sensitivity to the smell of sweat. Basically, some unlucky folks have a heightened ability to pick up body odor. The scientists also found that women are more sensitive to many smells than men. Some other interesting facts: two million people in the US have no sense of smell at all and one in a thousand can't smell skunks.

The paper appears online in PLoS Biology, and there's a nice summary here.—Gregory Mone

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