Human nose can detect 1 trillion odours
What the the nose knows might as well be limitless, researchers suggest.
The human nose can distinguish at least 1 trillion different odours, a resolution orders of magnitude beyond the previous estimate of just 10,000 scents, researchers report today in Science Scientists who study smell have suspected a higher number for some time, but few studies have attempted to explore the limits of the human nose’s sensory capacity. “It has just been sitting there for somebody to do,” says study co-author Andreas Keller, an olfactory researcher at the Rockefeller University in New York.
..A human nose has around 400 types of scent receptors. When the smell of coffee wafts through a room, for example, specific receptors in the nose detect molecular components of the odour, eliciting a series of neural responses that draw one’s attention to the coffee pot.