How Many Smells Can You Smell?

Psalm 45:8
“All thy garments smell of myrrh, and aloes, and cassia, out of the ivory palaces, whereby they have made thee glad.”

Until recently it was commonly thought that humans can smell approximately 10,000 different odors. But that’s no longer thought to be true. So how many different odors can that nose in the middle of your face detect?

Dogs might not have a better sense of smell than humans after allScientists at Rockefeller University in New York set out to test the idea of 10,000 different odors. The number dates back to 1927, but it was never scientifically investigated. So they asked 26 people to identify a scent from three samples containing 128 molecules – two that were the same and one that was different. From this, they were able to tell how many different scents the average person would be able to distinguish if they were presented with all the possible mixtures that could be made from the 128 molecules.

So what was the official number? One trillion different odors – and even this, they say, is most likely an underestimate! Now, why would our Creator endow us with such an amazing sense of smell? Could He have been showing us how much He loves us? After all, the sense of smell enables us to appreciate the delightful aroma of flowers and food. In fact, we couldn’t enjoy the food we eat if it weren’t for our ability to smell.

Our sense of smell is one example of what is called God’s common grace. He has given this gift to everyone, believers and unbelievers alike. But only believers can appreciate this as a gift from God and not an evolutionary accident of nature.

Prayer: Thank you, Lord, for being so generous in the gifts you have given us. Make me more appreciative of these gifts every time I sit down to a meal or smell a rose. Your blessings, while undeserved, are truly unlimited! Amen.


Author: Steven J. Schwartz
Ref: “Nose can detect one trillion odours,” BBC News Health, 3/20/14. Photo: Dogs might not have a better sense of smell than humans after all. Courtesy of Elucidate. Licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported license.

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