Wednesday, July 04, 2007

What a pong!!

I bent down under the sink this morning to throw something in the garbage and the stench that rose from the bag was overwhelming. I had changed the bag only yesterday so I could only assume my husband had beheaded and removed the tails from his fish and had thrown them in the garbage but forgotten to take them out to the bin like he usually does. It made me think about how every thing we smell good or bad is actually made of particles that we inhale.

The particles of Annie the dog, freshly anointed with bear poop, rotten salmon by the river, along with the seductive smell of coffee in the morning and the roses on the table all are sharing themselves with me. It makes one specially anxious to flush and rush, although I suppose that would be too late, but public toilets brings intimacy into a whole new dimension. The list goes on. I wonder if wearing a mask would help. Maybe a line of flashy designer masks would catch on, what do you think?

In order for you to smell something, molecules from that thing have to make it to your nose. Everything you smell, therefore, is giving off molecules -- whether it is bread in the bakery, onions, perfume, a piece of fruit or whatever. Those molecules are generally light, volatile (easy to evaporate) chemicals that float through the air into your nose. A piece of steel has no smell because nothing evaporates from it -- steel is a non-volatile solid.

Here are some links that you might want to check out if you are interested.

How does the sense of smell work
What causes the smell after rain?

3 comments:

RUTH said...

We take our sense of smell for granted; what an interesting "stop and think" post this is. Reading the mention of fish heads; many years ago a friend of mine split up with her boyfriend; when she collected her belongings (she moved out) and being a "woman scorned" she secretly put a whole fish down the back of the radiator. It took her ex ages to work out where the smell was coming from.

Jeni said...

Speaking of aromas - the past two evenings now (late evening), we've had that not so pleasant smell indicative of a small animal, black with the lovely white stripe down the back, roaming around the house, probably trying to figure out a way to get into our garbage cans I suppose!

Claire said...

This reminds of when i spilled fish oil all over the kitchen floor, boy did that stink. After i cleaned it up i sprayed some air freshener. Now whenever i spray that air freshener i smell that fish oil stink.