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 colors of colors

What color is the sky?

It’s light blue when clear and cloudless…

Bright red at sun dawn…

A different shade of orange at sunset…

Pitch black with tiny bright white dots at night…

White when it snows…

And even green when northern lights make an appearence in the Arctic night…

How about trees? Do they have green leaves and a brown body? Or is it something we were taught in our infancy?

Nature doesn’t have one color per each creation. There are endless color combinations there but do we lack the vocabulary to describe each hue?

Homer described honey as green, and sea as the color of champagne. The words for color he used in his works never got more various than a simple black and white mentioned hundreds of times, with a tad of green and red appearing once or twice. Was he colorblind? Can honey be green? Can seas be the color of champagne? The color blue was not mentioned even once in his works. Since it was never mentioned that he was criticized about how he perceived colors in his time, should we assume that the whole ancient Greek population was incapable of distinguishing between colors?

Or are we still colorblind in the modern era in such a way that we have compound nouns that do not represent the colors of that we have in mind; is white wine, white? Are blackberries, black? Even a blackeye isn’t black.

Is it the evolution of the human eye or the creation of synthetic colors that created this confusion?

For more detailed insight, I recommend you read the first chapter of “Through the Language Glass” by Guy Deutscher…

It changed my perception of perception.