How Does Smell Work? Umm.

I’m fond of stumping students with the following question: “Dolphins are well known for having a supersense called echolocation, but believe it or not they can’t do something that you and I can.  We can hear, see, taste, touch, and smell.  Which one are dolphins entirely missing out on?”

Answer: Smell.  Yep.  Dolphins lack olfactory lobes and nerves leading researchers to believe that dolphins possess no real sense of smell.  The trouble with this question is that some kids are bright enough to turn it around and stump me.  “Miss Sarah, how does smell work?”

To which I say: “Ummmmmm.”  Thankfully, I’ve been studying up and the brilliant minds over at TED have an interesting talk from Luca Turin that elegantly goes about discussing some of the current ideas on just how smell works.