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We all know that we can see anything because of Light Absorption and all. We can hear things because of caused vibrations. But what makes an object smell? I read somewhere about the presence of odorous chemical compounds in the objects which makes them smell. Then, What gives smell to those odorous chemical compounds?

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    $\begingroup$ the compounds are just molecules, it is the receptors/sensors in our nose and beyond , and brain processing, that interprets them as smell (useful for survival purposes). $\endgroup$ – user83548 May 24 '16 at 14:55
  • $\begingroup$ Would Chemistry be a better home for this question? $\endgroup$ – Qmechanic May 24 '16 at 15:00
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    $\begingroup$ Fun fact: the molecule that produces the smell of lemons is a perfect mirror image (enantiomer) of the molecule that produces the small of oranges. $\endgroup$ – lemon May 24 '16 at 15:05
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    $\begingroup$ It's perhaps closer to chemistry, but it's a bit of both. It's the vibration of molecules that our noses (and brains) are able to detect. I don't know if the vibration theory of smell is agreed on by consensus or not, but my amateur opinion is that it's correct. $\endgroup$ – userLTK May 24 '16 at 15:05
  • $\begingroup$ @lemon - it's fascinating if true. americanhistory.si.edu/molecule/04exp.htm Our brains discriminate and don't treat these two mirror images "symmetrically" at all. Of course, there are lots of chiral molecules in our bodies so the symmetry is broken because the relative handedness etc. is absolutely different for orange and lemon. $\endgroup$ – Luboš Motl May 24 '16 at 16:44
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What gives smell to those odorous chemical compounds

Your nose and your brain. First of all, there are just some molecules flowing through your nose. There are many receptor neurons that react to those molecules and send "signals" to your brain. In the end, you smell something.

It's the same with light: light really is just an electromagnetic wave of certain wavelength and humans happen to have cells that react to such waves.

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I always understood that a smell is caused by minute particles of the substance being emitted at a rate relative to the stability and temperature into the air thereby entering the nasal passage of recipient. The question is, do you inhale obnoxious particles that you would normally repel.

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