This is your brain on smells

A new study explores how the brain encodes different scents — a topic which scientists know relatively little about, compared to our other senses.

Pixabay
  • Unlike sight and hearing, our sense of smell remains poorly understood.
  • In a new study, scientists used machine learning to categorize thousands of different odors based on chemical properties.
  • By exposing mice to odors and measuring their neural activity, the scientists found that the brain more closely groups together odors that are chemically similar.
Keep reading Show less

A new perfume can help you smell like space

Ever want to smell like an astronaut? Now you can!

Eau De Space
  • After years of trying, a group has produced the smell of outer space in a perfume.
  • Astronauts have described the smell of space as similar to "ozone," "gunpowder," and "fried steak."
  • Exactly what causes the scent is still debated.
Keep reading Show less

Lizards develop new chemical language to attract mates in predator-free environments

Researchers decoded the love signals of lizards "spoken" through chemical signals.

Photo Credit: Colin Donihue
  • Scientists discovered that lizards developed novel chemical communication signals when relocated to tiny island groups with no predators.
  • Male lizards began to rapidly produce a new chemical love elixir, not unlike cologne, to call on potential mates.
  • With new technology we're increasingly able to detect and identify the chemicals that make up much of the language of non-human nature.

Keep reading Show less

Ask an astronomer: How do astronauts deal with isolation?

Being stuck at home is not as intense as being away from Earth, but there are ways to cope in either scenario.

  • While she has not personally been to space, NASA astronomer Michelle Thaller has heard from friends and colleagues what it is like to truly be isolated. Coping mechanisms for these extreme cases can also benefit people here on Earth during the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • Setting and maintaining a schedule can help you and your body return to a more normal state, as can finding familiar sensory inputs. For astronauts, that includes Earthly scents like citrus.
  • Speaking personally and making a point about silver linings, Thaller shares a story about how COVID-19 has given her more time with her sick husband for what are likely his final days.

Design hack: 10 joy-inducing aesthetics you should know

Why finding joy is more easily attainable than the pursuit of happiness.

  • Joy and happiness are often used synonymously, but designer Ingrid Fetell Lee argues that there is an important distinction between the two: time. Happiness is something that measures how good we feel over time, while joy is about feeling good in the moment.
  • Noticing visual and sensorial patterns in the things that brought people joy, Lee was able to identify 10 "aesthetics": abundance, harmony, energy, freedom, play, surprise, transcendence, magic, renewal, and celebration.
  • In this video, we learn more about each aesthetic and why focusing on joyful moments is the key to getting the most out of life.

Keep reading Show less
Quantcast