Odors of the Unsmellable

nose

For most of us, the sense of smell has always been underrated amongst our five senses. This is plainly because it has been limited by the planet in which we live on as…

 

We watch the stars through telescopes, but cannot smell them…

 

We listen to music, hear thunders, songs of birds or the sound of flowing water, but cannot pick up any odor associated with them…

 

We feel love, anger, fear, jealousy which seem to have no smell…

 

It’s all clear that we can’t make use of our olfactory sense underwater, or in our dreams, or when it comes to ancient history like the recognizing the scent of a dinosaur, or when describing our emotions or on any celestial body discovered until now that we’ve been seeing pictures of (except the moon)…

 

But, what would these smell like if we could? Let’s put some science into the mix and speculate on what would the unsmellable smell like:

 

Celestial Bodies:

 

1. The Moon: The moon has been reported to smell like spent gunpowder by the astronauts who ever made it there. Apparently moon dust got into the space shuttles and was described as having that peculiar smell…
Here arises the question of what the Earth smells like… but it really depends on where we physically are for our planet… it can smell roses or shit depending on your position. That’s the beauty of our planet.

 

2. Venus and Mars:
The atmospheres of these neighbouring two planers contain high levels of sulfur, which would make them stink like rotten eggs without oxygen in the mix. Yuck!

 

3.  Jupiter:
Jupiter’s atmosphere has different layers with unique scents… The outer layers contain ammonia which would smell like a bad brand of a window cleaner or urine while the inner layers have hydrogen cyanide in abundance making it smell like bitter almonds… If you ever thinking of moving there, stick to the vicinity of the surface..

 

4.  Titan (Saturn’s moon):
NASA scientists have recreated Titan’s atmosphere and discovered that it had a mystery element which gave the same readings as benzene…so, it’s safe to say that Titan smells like gasoline. Yay! for people who like the smell but still do not strike a match if you ever make it there.

 

5. The sun and Uranus:
Sadly, hydrogen and helium combined does not have a scent that we can pick up, so these two celestial bodies don’t smell at all. You’ll probably pick up the scent of your unwashed space suit once you’re there but keep in mind that’s not the native smell of the place. Be careful not to get your nostrils burnt trying to sniff the sun.

 

 

6. Deep Space:
It has been reported by astronauts after taking space walks that space smells like “seared steak”. Perhaps, somebody is making a barbecue out there.

 

Other unsmellable stuff

 

7. Cancer:
Diseases like cancer have to have distinct odors as the cancerous cells are indeed transforming into lethal organic components. Dogs can sense these as they have about 220 million smell receptors in their noses which is roughly about 50 times more than an average human has. In one specific case in 1989, a dog was repeatedly trying to bite off a colored lesion on its owner’s leg. When the owner got diagnosed, the lesion turned out to be a malignant melanoma. So, the dog was trying to save its owner’s life but if the smell had been so bad, would it just try to rip it off? Perhaps, cancerous tumours smell like bones! Woof!

 

 

8. Sadness:
One friend told me that a friend of her friend could smell prolonged sadness (not depression though) clinging onto people. It did not have a pleasant smell and even though the person suffering from sadness bathed several times a day, the scent was still detectable. It was like “a damp basement where expired food items had been stored for several years”. It’s been getting more and more difficult to smell sadness nowadays as the products of the perfume industry works wonders to mask the scent.

 

9. Colors:
People with synesthesia (a rare condition that links one of the five senses to something unrelated) can see music, taste numbers or even smell colors. There have also been numerous research and tests conducted on ordinary people without synesthesia and the results were surprising. The odor-color connection seems to exist on a neurological level and it’s not related to culture, age or gender. So, pink and red have fruity scents, while orange and brown have a musty odor. You can read more about the research here:

 

 

10. Fear:
Paralyzing fear smells like urine… perhaps because we can’t control our bladders when we fear too much!

The Overuse of Lexical Items in Describing Emotions

stop saying like

Language has never stopped evolving as more new words are added to the lexical pool every passing day. We are now using more words than ever, to express ourselves fully to one another. But, is it all necessary? Or are we simply dulling our senses and devolving ourselves, restricted by the limits of language itself?

In face-to-face encounters, language loses most of its function as actions take over the role of wordly structures. We never describe our actions in wordly forms when what we are doing at any given moment is so obvious. Imagine you’re in a cafe with someone, do you ever need the urge to make sentences like: “I’m now holding the cup of coffee with my left hand, preparing to take a sip.”?

Of course not, as each person is equipped with a behavioral decoder of their own. But, then again, why do we use words to describe our emotions to the other person accross the same table; saying we are happy, upset, depressed or scared… Have we disconnected and devolved so much that we can’t decode emotions without the aid of words anymore?

The joy of hugging someone and transferring our emotions in a silent harmony is what we should have been doing all along. “Wordless” does not mean it’s “worthless”, it’s just more. It’s actually feeling for each other.

We are taught to “apologize”, “praise”, “confront”, “encourage” and “congratulate” each other even before we start school… but even the words picked for such actions are random letters in tiresome, long sequences, …. difficult even to pronounce let alone understand each other’s feelings.

In writing good fiction, there’s one fundamental rule: “Show, don’t tell.” How come “showing” is more appreciated than “telling in words” at a medium where the reader and the writer is almost never in the same place?
Showing, not telling adds great value to writing, so,  perhaps, we should implement this rule to our daily lives for a change to enhance our personal relationships.

Finally,

Who is the culprit for demoting our emotions, then?

Is it the gibberish rules of society we are dictated since birth?

Is it the technological advancements causing the daily rush we find ourselves in, to get pointless things done in little time?

Is it because we are becoming more and more selfish and ignorant?

Whatever the cause, it is never late to share our feelings in an entangling bundle of limbs, enclosing two hearts within…

The Significance of Numbers in Literary Titles

Se8en

Numbers are never related solely to mathematics. They have the immense power to make literary works more alluring and certainly add a unique flavour to titles irreplaceable by any other non-mathematical word. Numbers are symbols… and we have always had a special liking to symbolism. Tip off 8 and you get eternity, Nine along with its mirror image make up a spiral heart…and so on.

Numbers also remove vagueness from stories and make them credible. Isn’t to say that there are 5,876,777,091 stars in our galaxy more credible than saying there are billions of stars in our galaxy, even if it’s not true.

The numbers in book titles, foreshadow events and attract readers subconsciously. Just look at the literary titles and my own explanations below and decide if any other number or word could replace these numbers in the title:

“20,000 Leagues under the Sea” : It couldn’t have had the effect if it were a different number. In the times of Jules Verne, 20,000 was a massive number and the reason why a round-up number was chosen is basically because it’s easier to say it out loud than “forty-five thousand” or any other inexact, massive number.

“Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves” : Not all the thieves in the story are indeed relevant to the story but it’s a credible and a huge number to describe the enormity of the bandits. Any number from 30 to 50 would have worked, but 40 does have a special ring in this case.

“The Three Musketeers”: Why is it the three musketeers when there were four? (Yes, I am counting D’Artagnan as one…) It’s simply because three is an odd number and it shows the balance could change when taking decisions. One side will always win.

“Two minutes to Midnight” : The title which is also the name of a popular rock song suggests the severity of the time running out as midnight symbolizes the end of something (at least the night..)

“A tale of Two Cities” : You can foresee the conflict brewing in the story by just looking at the title…

“The Thirteenth Tale” : 13 is associated with “unluckiness” hinting the unfortunate events to be unfolded in the story…

Never forget! A good story always begins with a good title…and the right number in the title…

Subliminal Messages: Selling to the subconscious

Subliminal Messages: Selling to the subconscious

Let’s say that you want to buy a good wrist watch, so you google for options and check the images associated for a good design. While checking all the watch photos, you notice something weird about the time…

The hands on different watches from different brands are showing exactly 10:10… There are occasional images of watches, displaying different times but you don’t seem to like them as much as the ones indicating the time as ten past ten. But, why?

watches
“Oh! All the watches seemed to have stopped at 10:10”

It is most probably because the position of hands when time is 10:10 looks either like a “check mark” which suggests “approval” or a “smile” which represents “happiness” that you will get if you buy that watch.

That’s not all! The number 10 (that appears twice in 10:10) is also the top number when we are grading something, like “Wow! The new Avengers movie is 10 out of 10″…

When all these bits of tiny subliminal messages come to play, you will probably end up buying a watch that you may loathe later in your life…

Still not convinced?

Check the Amazon logo housing a wide grin that goes all the way from “A” to “Z” or the Nike logo design containing nothing more than a check mark. “Happiness” and “Approval” are once more wedged into our minds…

amazon-logo-transparent   nike-logo-png

Apart from subliminal “smiles” and “approvals”, “sex” is another great seller for products that have nothing to do with sex.

The “SFX” magazine, which is a sci-fi/fantasy magazine from the UK, have used this message cleverly on their covers when featuring a pretty girl or a handsome guy on the foreground of the cover page, covering just the lower tip of the “F” in the background, thus the title of the magazine is often subconsciously perceived as “SEX”…

sfx-issues1
Who can resist these characters?

It can be a different story and a new cover design when the featured characters are not very alluring as seen below:

sfx-issues2

Surely, there are exceptions to this mind trick in some issues, but most of the time, it’s as described above. By the way, SFX is a great magazine.

The subliminal message of “Sex” surfaces even in unrelated products.

skittles
The red “S” skittle and “Explosion”… Hmmm!

 

gilbeys
Notice anything strange in the ice cubes?

We do not have to look into these pictures for a prolonged time to get the subliminal message, our subconscious gets it even at the slightest glance…

We are only human after all…

Into the World of Veteran Teachers


Automated limb movement, geriatric impulses, memorized lines and the same jokes told at the beginning of each term. The gradual fading of initial joy, reflected upon the self-prepared, plain packed lunch of no flavour. Welcome to the world of veteran teachers…

Dreams of retirement start crowding the mind, as the teacher; once a king, finds it difficult even to entertain himself. His throne room; the classroom has become his own prison, vagabonding in a maelstrom of self-punishment, sentenced to write sentences that have lost their meanings through time. As for the audience; names change, faces change but the mentality stays in the same line of ignorance. The kids don’t care anymore as any information can be found online though instant feedback cannot; a teacher’s only remaining forte in the digital age… currently regarded as highly overrated. The generation gap surfaces in the form of a different understanding of basic terms: Critical thinking, now refers to the condition the students’ mental abilities… It’s time to leave the stage…

Everyday Concepts which are Almost Impossible to Explain as a Challenge

Everyday Concepts which are Almost Impossible to Explain as a Challenge

The concepts “perspective“, “music“, “flavor“, “home” and “God” do not need to be explained for most of us as we see or experience them multiple times in our daily lives. It’s not rocket science, but how would you describe these concepts to someone that has never felt them or has no reference points that can guide them to understanding the concept. Look at these cases below and have some time to think before continuing to read:

Imagine

  • meeting a blind person since birth, and he asks you to describe what “perspective” is in “art”.
  • coming accross someone born deaf, and you are asked to define “music
  • chatting with an anosmic person and she wants you to tell her all about “flavor
  • being abducted by nomad aliens, who do not have the notion of “home“. How would you persuade them to take you home?
  • you are a preacher and you somehow time travel to the stone age and meet a bunch of cavemen… Tell them about “God” and preferrably convince them.

    perspective1 Perspective – About two decades ago, we teenagers did not have mobile phones. We were “social” but lacked “media”, so we frequently gathered face-to-face and had these brain teasers as challenges. The first one was “How to describe perspective to a person born blind”. The best way, we agreed upon was to use another sense other than seeing to describe it. As the most developed sense in blindness is “hearing“, we decided to use that to explain the concept.

The Method: Switch on the TV, pick a channel with a weak signal (preferrably one with white noise), volume up, guide the blind person towards the TV, ask them how loud they can hear, take a few steps and repeat the process, go to another room (a distant one) together and ask about the loudness of the sound again, tell them that the closer an object is, the bigger it seems… Just like the “white noise” of the TV set. The closer they are to the sound source, the bigger the object is…


music1

Music – Explaining the concept of music to a deaf person is no different. But, here, we picked another sense (touch) to explain the concept since vision would not work.

 

The Method: Switch on a music set that is connected to huge amps, tell the deaf person to touch the amp with both hands, play a song with a repeating melody in high volume, sit back and relax as the vibrations will do the trick


How-to-Reduce-Salt-and-Retain-Flavor-700x395

Flavor – Anosmic people cannot smell nor taste flavors, so this one is going to be tricky as this time it’s two senses that are useless. I think it’s best to use “touch” one more time.

 

The Method: Prepare a table of various food with different flavors, seat the anosmic person, tell them to close their eyes, feed them with one hand, touch them with the other hand in different ways (a gentle caress, patting the head softly, a back rub or a slight slap on the cheek) for each flavor and ask them how it feels. For sweet flavors, do the pleasent touches, for bitter or sour ones, do the not-so-pleasent strokes… For leek, punch them 🙂


The last two concepts; “Home” and “God” are challenges for you to tackle. Think about them for some time, then leave a comment on this post. I’ll reply every comment!

Thanks for reading…

 

Social Vampires

Social Vampires

emotionalvampire81

We all have that one friend, who sucks the energy out of our souls… They are most probably not your best friend as they are nobody’s best friend but still you may come accross them quite often. Whenever you meet them, they start telling you these terrible jokes, raving about uneventful events or asking for your opinion without giving you time or even a chance to interact. You listen and as it goes on, your liveliness withers and all the energy you had moments ago, abandons you without a forwarding address. They are better known as “energy vampires”, but I like to call them “social vampires” as I am doubtful that they could feed on the pure energy output of a simple generator. You should definitely avoid them but how do you know if someone is indeed a social vampire. Luckily, they are quite similar to ancient vampires in the lore and can be identified easily by using one or more of the methods below:

  1. Just like real vamps, social vampires have the ability to hypnotize their prey. You listen to their nonsense and somehow have little desire to leave. As they are highly selfish and really don’t care about others, watch out for those who jabber about themselves all the time…

  2. Real vamps don’t have reflections in mirrors. Social vamps are quite the opposite. (They like mirrors and do have reflections, but luckily, they are easily identifiable, as they are the blurry ones in the picture). If you are in a group, take a couple of selfies and be on the lookout for the one with the biggest grin and a blurry body. Freshly fed with energy, they would be the fidgety ones, as their bodies try to break down the excess energy and have a hard time keeping their body still.

  3. Another similarity between the real deal and the social vampires, is the ability to alter memories. You never realize why you gradually felt exhausted and depressed after a couple of hours spent with a social vamp, and at the end of the day, you never blame that friend for the physical or the emotional drain. If you can’t find any reason for your sudden mood change at the end of the day, look nowhere else other than the soul sucker for the answer.

  4. Still in doubt? Stalk their social media accounts for a bit. If their feeds are full of long depressing stories about themselves or if they had made hundreds of gibberish comments for every single photo posted by their “friends”, you have found your social vamp. The similarity? Well, real vampires, too, tend to moan about themselves a lot if you befriend them; talking about how immortality is boredom for life or that how, being not able to stroll under the sun is depressing and so on.

 

Now that we can identify social vamps, how do we defeat them?

 

Remember, they are just like real vampires. Although neither a braid of garlic nor a cross  will help you defeat them, a wooden stake through the heart will work just as well. 🙂