“What the nose knows might as well be limitless, researchers suggest,” a recent Nature article states, commenting on the discovery that we may be able to detect one trillion odours.
Researchers “prepared scent mixtures with 10, 20 or 30 components selected from a collection of 128 odorous molecules. Then they asked 26 study participants to identify the mixture that smelled differently in a sample set where two of three scents were the same. When the two scents contained components that overlapped by more than about 51%, most participants struggled to discriminate between them. The authors then calculated the number of possible mixtures that overlap by less than 51% to arrive at their estimate of how many smells a human nose can detect: at least 1 trillion.”
While we cannot compete with dogs, our acuity of distinguishing between smells is amazing. With our roughly “400 types of scent receptors” we can “detect molecular components” of a particular odour.
As the psalmist wrote, we are “fearfully and wonderfully made” (Ps. 139:14, NKJV). It is a good reason for thanking the One who made us in His image.