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Author Topic: Why things smell bad...?  (Read 22568 times)

Offline Exodus

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Why things smell bad...?
« on: 16/08/2003 13:29:02 »
Why is it that things smell so awful to us? is it in our instinct when we are born to know that something that smells that way is not good for us? e.g decaying meat (smells wrong doesn't it) it induces a vomiting reaction, so we know not to eat it why? Any ideas?

There is an interesting article by Peter Brennan which describes smell if anyone is interested..

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« Last Edit: 16/08/2003 13:40:37 by Exodus »


 

Offline Quantumcat

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Re: Why things smell bad...?
« Reply #1 on: 18/08/2003 07:39:59 »
Fairly simple, what I think is: We are born with the appropriate networking in our brains that gives a negative reaction to certain smells already outlined so they can recognise that they are bad without having to go through potentially fatal experiences to get the networking of neurones in place. I'm usually wrong with these things if so please say so.

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Offline OmnipotentOne

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Re: Why things smell bad...?
« Reply #2 on: 21/02/2004 05:15:41 »
But if you grow up around that certain smell you get use to it and it is no longer a umm smelly smell?......Oh  and I know I probably sound stupid but Quantumcat could you please tell me what that quote means, I see it all over the forums but dont get it.
 

Offline Ylide

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Re: Why things smell bad...?
« Reply #3 on: 21/02/2004 08:09:54 »
I'm guessing it's evolutionary.  People who were genetically inclined to think rotting food and poisonous berries taste/smell bad are more inclined to survive, yes?

The ones that have the capability to eat rotting/poisonous things obviously have a genetic advantage in that they have an exclusive food source over other organisms.  (so I'm guessing vultures don't think rotting carcasses smell bad)

There is probably also some conditiong, too.  If you're around a cetain smell for long periods of time, the receptors become saturated with it and stop relaying the signal.  People that work in sewage treatment plants aren't usually walking around all day on the verge of nausea...at least not after the first week.





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Offline Supercryptid

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Re: Why things smell bad...?
« Reply #4 on: 24/02/2004 04:22:42 »
I agree with QuatumCat on this one. We are preprogrammed to know whether a smell is 'good' or 'bad' for us. Environment plays a role too, so being around a smell for a while can alter your perception of it.

Speaking of smells, why is it that so many sulfur-containing compounds have some kind of odor to them? Here are some examples: pure sulfur, hydrogen sulfide, ethanethiol, carbon disulfide. I suppose that our smell receptors are triggered by sulfur atoms?
 

Offline nilmot

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Re: Why things smell bad...?
« Reply #5 on: 24/02/2004 09:02:49 »
I don't think our smell receptors are tirggered by sulphur atoms only; benzene smells too, that's why it's called an aromatic molecules and it doesn't contain sulphur.

Tom
 

Offline tweener

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Re: Why things smell bad...?
« Reply #6 on: 24/02/2004 19:00:58 »
I agree that certain smells are built in to smell bad, bit conditioning plays a role also.  At one of my jobs, they decided they had to replace all the tile in the building (A very large building).  So, for several weeks I had to smell the citrus based solvent they used to remove the glue.  For several years after that, the smell of an orange or grapefruit would make me throw up.  After 10 years I don't retch anymore, but I still don't like oranges.  

I guess that I was "conditioned" that the smell of an orange automatically went with this solvent stuff, which I'm sure was quite poisionous.


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Offline Ylide

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Re: Why things smell bad...?
« Reply #7 on: 25/02/2004 01:45:42 »
I know where you're comin from on that one, John.  When I was a kid, I trew up after eating a bag of Skittles.  The actual vomiting wasn't from the Skittles, but the association made me nauseated any time I smelled Skittles (or any artificial fruity smell similar to them) for a good 10 years or so.

On the other hand, I threw up one time right after drinking chocolate milk, too, but that didn't make me dislike chocolate milk.

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Offline tweener

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Re: Why things smell bad...?
« Reply #8 on: 25/02/2004 02:47:11 »
Sometimes it's hard to avoid oranges.  It makes your co-workers think you're strange when you run out gagging and retching as soon as they open their orange.

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Offline MissMontana

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Re: Why things smell bad...?
« Reply #9 on: 26/02/2004 20:17:43 »
The smell of rum does the same for me lol
 

Offline neilep

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Re: Why things smell bad...?
« Reply #10 on: 26/02/2004 21:13:30 »
Many odours that at first seem noxious become less noticeable with time, especially if you are exposed to them on a regular basis for example the sewage treatment specialists that Jay mentioned above., in the first second after a smell is encountered, electrical activity between the brain and the smell receptors rise sharply on impact. After a short while, perhaps a minute or so, the effect drops and then gradually decreases and even fades from perception, the strange thing is,( from what I understand) is that the receptors are still being stimulated and continue to send signals to the brain. So, I presume that somewhere in the nervous system, the steady incoming signals seem to be realised as normal and the original awareness of the odour diminishes. Of course working in sewage treatment plants is a good way to encourage one to stop biting your nails !!

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Offline roberth

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Re: Why things smell bad...?
« Reply #11 on: 26/02/2004 21:57:56 »
quote:
Originally posted by MissMontana

The smell of rum does the same for me lol



Mmmmm...rum
 

Offline bezoar

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Re: Why things smell bad...?
« Reply #12 on: 27/02/2004 00:13:23 »
Nobody can get nauseated from chocolate.  That's a sacrilege.
 

Offline tweener

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Re: Why things smell bad...?
« Reply #13 on: 27/02/2004 01:29:04 »
Major sacrilege.  I like the strong stuff where about 5 or 10 grams will just about do you in.  Not messed up with all that sugar and milk.

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Offline neilep

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Re: Why things smell bad...?
« Reply #14 on: 27/02/2004 02:55:38 »
ooohh...I love Milk chocolate...can't handle the strong stuff, you're obviously hardcore !!......and white choccy ?yum yum !!!...mind you the strangest chocolate I ever had was in Florence Italy, I'd never seen so many different colours and flavours.....strawberry, raspberry, bannana.....a chocolate lovers Paradise....yum yum !!

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Offline Donnah

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Re: Why things smell bad...?
« Reply #15 on: 29/02/2004 02:35:00 »
When I work with horses it smells good to me and the manure smell is okay.  Cow patties smell bad, but quickly lose their impact.  Cat litter always stinks, but the worst is cleaning dog kennels.  I never got used to that smell, even when I worked at the SPCA.
 

Offline bezoar

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Re: Why things smell bad...?
« Reply #16 on: 29/02/2004 06:30:31 »
How did I miss all that flovored chocolate in Florence?  Didn't find it when I was there, but did have some of that good Italian ice cream.

I don't know, but even horse poop stinks to me.  All that poop stinks, maybe that's so no animal will eat it by mistake, but I did have a dog once that would always lick the kids diapers clean when they messed.  Very bizarre to me.  Scat hound.
 

Offline neilep

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Re: Why things smell bad...?
« Reply #17 on: 29/02/2004 18:34:30 »
......quite handy to have a pet like that if you run out of toilet paper !!!!...(very very sorry about that !!)

Next time im in Florence Nancy , I'll pick some up for you and send it......hmmmm !!!...making my mouth salivate just thinking about it..yummy !!

Apparently, you girlies have increased sensitivity to certain smells. As I understand it oestrogen levels rise and fall during the monthly cycle as does the sensitivity to smells. When the oestrogen level is at it's highest so is the sense of smell , and less sensitive during menstruation when the level is at it's lowest.

This may account for the weird appetites that girlies have during pregnancy as oestrogen levels are so low that that the smell/taste senses are dulled to the extent that the 'gherkins and ice cream' syndrome happens......but what I want to know is why have i heard accounts of women craving dirt ?....is it due to elements in the dirt that somehow the 'body' knows it needs ?.......please forgive my inane ramblings about this...I'm just a bloke !!
 
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Offline Donnah

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Re: Why things smell bad...?
« Reply #18 on: 02/03/2004 04:02:52 »
Neil I think you are right on the money about eating dirt.  I've seen cattle eat dirt and after the farmer put out some mineral blocks, they stopped eating the dirt.
 

Offline bezoar

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Re: Why things smell bad...?
« Reply #19 on: 02/03/2004 12:01:36 »
That's called pica, and it's supposed to be because of certain nutritional deficits.  Clay and starch (as in laundry starch) are two of the common pica cravings.  Also was a problem in the past with kids eating paint chips off the wall when the paint was lead based.  Another weird medical fact, people who are anemic will chew or suck ice.  Go figure.

I'm not so sure that the sensitivity to smell is all hormone based because it seems to me that even menopausal women are still more sensitive to smell than men.

So Penile, when are you going to Florence again?  My mouth is watering.
 

Offline neilep

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Re: Why things smell bad...?
« Reply #20 on: 02/03/2004 16:01:12 »
Perhaps you girlies are more sensitive to smell than us blokes anyway, at any time of the month......I'm just sure I read about oestrogen levels related to taste and smell somewhere.....

Donnah, that's interesting to know about the mineral blocks, nothing like a good dose of Pica to put a smile on a cows face ;):DNanc...I may be off to Florence this coming August, in the mean time.....I'm gonna have myself a grit and dirt salad...yummy :)

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Offline Donnah

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Re: Why things smell bad...?
« Reply #21 on: 02/03/2004 21:59:59 »
Neil, I never had to worry about that when I worked with horses.  I bit the dust regularly.[B)];)
« Last Edit: 02/03/2004 22:00:42 by Donnah »
 

Offline bezoar

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Re: Why things smell bad...?
« Reply #22 on: 02/03/2004 23:57:51 »
Wait, let me get one thing straight.  If you get back to Florence, I don't want any dirt or clay.  I'm definitely a chocoholic!  But you know, if pica's your preference, then let them eat dirt!
« Last Edit: 02/03/2004 23:59:00 by bezoar »
 

Offline OldMan

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Re: Why things smell bad...?
« Reply #23 on: 03/03/2004 02:42:32 »
I seem to recall that dogs eat grass for a similar reason to the pica thing. Anyone know why exactly? We got a little puppy the other day and he seems to like  the grass, mind you i wasn't sure if he was eating it or just yanking on it cos he likes chewing on stuff. And he's SOO CUTE!!!!

Tim
 

Offline Quantumcat

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Re: Why things smell bad...?
« Reply #24 on: 03/03/2004 08:40:35 »
My quote refers to Schrodinger's Cat. If you're not familiar with it, look it up !!! It's very interesting.

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Re: Why things smell bad...?
« Reply #24 on: 03/03/2004 08:40:35 »

 

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