Scent tests show precision of human olfactory power
In the movie Roxanne, Steve Martin plays a lovesick guy who mocks his own huge schnoz by declaring: “It’s not the size of a nose that’s important. It’s what’s in it that matters.” Scientists demonstrated the surprising truth behind that joke this year: People can whiff an average of more than 1 trillion different odors, regardless of nose size (SN: 4/19/14, p. 6).
No one had systematically probed how many scents people can actually tell apart. So a team led by Leslie Vosshall of Rockefeller University in New