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How Does Scent Travel?
Wafts of air carry scent-filled molecules, rosy and stinky, to sensory cells in the nose.
Credit: pausimausi | sxc.hu

To get to your nose, a rosy smell rides the wind. Unfortunately, stinky scents travel the same route.

Substances that easily vaporize release airborne molecules. In contrast, nonvolatile substances such as glass do not give off smelly molecules .

Ever notice that the stench of a garbage pile is stronger on a hot and humid day? The conditions increase molecular volatility.

In addition, the more likely substances dissolve in water , the heftier their odor.

Wafts of air carry scent-filled molecules to sensory cells in the nose.

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The nose is a powerful sensor. A 2007 study published in the journal Psychological Science found that scents so faint people couldn’t even smell anything still had an effect on people’s emotions. Even at undetectable doses, scents floating in the air can manipulate our reactions.

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