Register for an account


Enter your name and email address below.

Your email address is used to log in and will not be shared or sold. Read our privacy policy.


Website access code

Enter your access code into the form field below.

If you are a Zinio, Nook, Kindle, Apple, or Google Play subscriber, you can enter your website access code to gain subscriber access. Your website access code is located in the upper right corner of the Table of Contents page of your digital edition.

Planet Earth

A Yardstick For The Nose

The LoomBy Carl ZimmerMay 18, 2010 9:34 PM


Sign up for our email newsletter for the latest science news


My newest column for Discover is about that strangest of the senses, smell. An odor can be an overwhelming experience, and yet it's often impossible to put that experience into words. In fact, we're terrible at naming smells, despite being exquisitely sensitive to the differences between them. I take a look at some recent research that may bring us closer to resolving this paradox, with the invention of the first yardstick for the nose--a simple measurement of odor molecules that reveals a lot about how pleasant or vile we find them. Not only might it help us understand our own noses, but it may even let us build electronic noses to sniff for things we don't want to stick our own noses in. Check it out.

    3 Free Articles Left

    Want it all? Get unlimited access when you subscribe.


    Already a subscriber? Register or Log In

    Want unlimited access?

    Subscribe today and save 50%


    Already a subscriber? Register or Log In