The Human Nose – Makings Sense of Scents

“Our highest assurance of the goodness of Providence seems to me to rest in the flowers. All other things, our powers, our desires, our food, are all really necessary for our existence in the first instance. But this rose is an extra. Its smell and its color are an embellishment of life, not a condition of it. It is only goodness which gives extras, and so I say again that we have much to hope from the flowers.” – Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

In a January 6th, 2005 report [1], The Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council located in the U.K. indicated they have spent enormous research hours on the human nose. One of their findings indicates, “The airflow through the human nose is more complicated than that over a jumbo jet’s wing.”

Dr Denis Doorly, a principle researcher with BBSRC said, “People are used to the flows around an aeroplane being complicated but that is in some ways simpler than understanding the flows inside the nose.”

Beyond airflow complexities is the fact that the human nose can differentiate between unique chemicals.

The sense of smell is also tied to the sense of taste with both the olfactory center and tastes buds working in concert to deliver a robust experience in taste.

Five million scent receptors can be found inside the human nose to help you distinguish between the beautiful scent of a flower and food that may need to be thrown out. The nose can help alert you to danger or it may provide a sense of peace and safety.

Because the function of smell is chemical in nature it functions in a way similar to taste, but can detect scent chemicals with the scent needing direct contact with the interior of the nose.

The Texas School for the Blind and Visually Impaired (TSBVI) describes the function of the nose.

1. Vaporized odor molecules (chemicals) floating in the air reach the nostrils and dissolve in the mucus (which is on the roof of each nostril).

2. Underneath the mucus, in the olfactory epithelium, specialized receptor cells called olfactory receptor neurons detect the odor. These neurons are capable of detecting thousands of different odors.

3. The olfactory receptor neurons transmit the information to the olfactory bulbs, which are located at the back of the nose.

4. The olfactory bulbs have sensory receptors that are actually part of the brain which send messages directly to:

*Brain centers where they influence emotions and memories (limbic system structures), and

*Centers where they modify conscious thought (neo-cortex).

5. These brain centers perceive odors and access memories to remind us about people, places, or events associated with these olfactory sensations. [2]

The complexities associated with the human nose were not lost on Linda Buck, an olfaction researcher who indicates [3], “The alphabet contains just 26 letters, yet we have thousands of words and numerous complex languages to convey meaning. Similarly, with 1,000 types of odor receptors working together in different combinations, your nose can make codes for about 10,000 odors.”

Proponents of evolution are happy to provide the theory of natural selection to help explain how we possess the dynamic sense of smell, but the nose is a very complex instrument that defies the notion of natural selection. TSBVI indicates that, “When interacting with a child who is deaf-blind we should be aware of the environmental odors that might be affecting the child’s behavior.”

Even when other systems may malfunction the height of scent can still be a dynamic way for individuals to define their environment.

Maybe the nose looks designed because it is designed.




Source by Scott Langley

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