Ever think about what goes into smelling?

It’s an interesting question, really. I mean, the human nose is very sensitive to different types of smells. I mean, really sensitive. And there’s thousands of little nodes that do the detecting.

It’s kind of weird to think about, but smells are just chunks of stuff floating around in the air. Of course, the chunks are so tiny as to be completely invisible, but that’s why filtration can remove smells from the air. It’s removing the bits and chunks of smelly stuff. Obviously smells are smaller than dust and require a finer filter.

So, you breathe in some chunks of smell, they hit the olfactory sensory neurons which are located up high inside your nose. Those smell sensors are hooked up directly to the brain, so smelling is a pretty high priority.

I suppose that makes sense from an evolutionary standpoint. I mean, smelling a predator before it grabs you, or smelling a bad food fast enough to keep from eating it. Or, come to think of it, a fast-food bad enough. 

But I digress. The chunks of smell go up the nose and into the nasal passages. Interestingly enough, you have another nose in your mouth! The back of the throat has a direct channel up to the nose, and it helps you taste your food. Taste and smell are combined and that explains why things don’t taste so good when you can’t smell them. I suppose, again from an evolutionary standpoint, that having taste and smell so closely bonded was to keep you from eating something rotten that would kill you. Handy stuff, eh?

Interestingly enough, some of the most potent memories are brought about by smells. Ever been someplace and smelled a smell and all the sudden you were transported back years to some event in your life? A smell of cinnamon rolls and baking and all the sudden you’re remembering the time your sister and you made cinnamon rolls when she came visiting many many years ago. Certain aftershaves or colognes that make you think of certain people. I have an odd one – the body wash that I love the smell of even though it reminds me of the high school locker room showers. Odd that I never liked having to shower in public, but that memory is still there.

So, spend your day wandering around smelling things today. Fall is in the air, just close your eyes and breathe in the memories. 

And go ahead – have that pumpkin spice latte.