(Week of 5/19/19)

One of the most prized items on my list of Non-Controversially Interesting Conversation Topics is a 1998 study linking the appeal of a man’s scent to his genetic compatibility with the woman smelling him (wait for it).

In addition to filling many-an-awkward cocktail party silences, this study has led me down a number of nose-related rabbit holes which, this week, Melinda was kind enough to allow me to share.

Without further ado, then, a list on Scent.

If you’ve only got a little time, we recommend the New York Times article on the 1998 t-shirt study (section 2), as well as the “In Our Time” podcast about how non-human species use pheromones to communicate (section 3). If you want to further appreciate animals, read how complex the dog’s nose is relative to the human’s (section 1), and to go a little deeper, explore the BBC dive into smell and memory. The Mount Sinai article in Section 4 is great for contextualizing aromatherapy, as is the beginner’s guide that follows; Section 5 might help you find a good perfume, but we also just really like the New Yorker piece on how many roses it takes to make Chanel No. 5.  A list like this wouldn’t do without the bonus link to know whether or not you smell, and no list centering on an interest of mine would do without a good Russian literature plug, so we’ve included Gogol’s grand short story “The Nose,” too.

Happy smelling and, as always, wishing you a great week,

1. The Nose
This short video explains how the nose actually works, and the Nova article puts the human nose in context with a dog’s (much more impressive) nose. The BBC article explores the nose-brain connection, and why scents trigger memory more than any other sense.
Nova article
BBC article

2. Scent Attraction in Humans
Though there’s no scientific proof of human pheromones, it’s clear that something is going on when it comes to our relationship to the odor of others.
Scientific American article on pheromones and debate over whether humans have them
Finding genetically compatible mates: New York Times article about 1998 sweaty t-shirt study
Sensing a woman’s fertility: Bustle article on changes in women during fertility

3. Pheromones in Non-Human Species
Other species, however, definitely have pheromones and holy sh*t it’s neat what they can do.
In Our Time podcast
American Scientist article

4. Aromatherapy
Does aromatherapy work? Unclear. But it sure smells nice.
Mount Sinai explanation
Beginner’s guide to essential oils

5. Perfume
Valued at over $50 billion today, the global fragrance industry is expected to grow to over $70 billion by 2024. Get involved.
Guide to the fragrance wheel and fragrance families
Reader’s Digest guide: What does your fragrance say about you?
New Yorker article: How many roses go into a bottle of Chanel No. 5?
Bonus: How to Tell if you Smell
Also, Gogol: The Nose



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