Have you ever imagined how many types of odour do you actually smell? While taste can be classified into five flavours that we sense, it was unclear how many odours humans can smell. The answer is ten, scientists have found.
Scientists say human nose can smell about 10 basic types of odour. Researchers have used a mathematical method to identify 10 basic aromas that the nose can smell: fragrant, woody/resinous, fruity (non-citrus), chemical, minty/peppermint, sweet, popcorn, lemon and two kinds of sickening odours: pungent and decayed.
There are likely about 10 basic categories of odour, according to research by Jason Castro from Bates College, Chakra Chennubhotla from the University of Pittsburgh, and Arvind Ramanathan from Oak Ridge National Laboratory.
The researchers used advanced statistical techniques to develop an approach for systematically describing smells.
Working with a standard set of data, Andrew Dravniek’s 1985 Atlas of Odor Character Profiles, the researchers applied a mathematical method to simplify the olfactory information into coherent categories, similar to the way compressing a digital audio or image file reduces the file’s size without, ideally, compromising its usefulness.
The study was published in the journal PLOS ONE.