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A simple discourse on senses

Updated on May 29, 2012

How do we sense Nature (our sense of smell)?

Smelling is one of our several senses, so usually when one senses something it is registered or detected, this is "by definition." Now your question is interesting because you question hinges on "deep philosophical thought." You have probably hear the following question before, "If a tree fell in a distance forest and no one heard it, did it actually fall?" That is, no one heard the sound of the fall, so did it actually happen? Was a sound actually made? Will, lets compare this to the smell of "natural gas." That is, the gas that is used in kitchens' cooking, gas ranges. That gas, as it naturally exists, that is as it comes, directly from Nature, "has no smell." However, a compound that has a characteristic smell, that we associate with natural gas, is added to the gas so that we can smell it, for safety's sake, just in case we happen to develop a gas leak in our system (or leave the gas on somehow. Now, the question is, "Does natural gas actually have its own smell and our olfactory sensors simply cannot register it? I don't know the answer to this question. It would make a good subject for a hub. Take care, rdlang05. As a matter of fact, it just occurred to me. Let's make this one a hub. Maybe it will stimulate other readers or writers to investigate this matter further. Have a wonderful day, rdlang05. Regards, Dr. Haddox


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    • professorcoban profile image


      6 years ago from Florida

      Our sense of smell is comparatively weak. That is to say that the threshold level of particles required to activate them and give us the sensation of a smell is larger than a lot of other animals. For instance, dogs are able to smell things that have a much fainter scent than humans can. In addition, surely there are compounds that our olfactory chemoreceptors are not able to process. This is somewhat like hearing and sight. Average humans can hear from 20Hz to 20000Hz. Dogs can hear much higher frequencies, but humans can hear further into the lower frequency range than they can. Average humans can see from about 400nm to 800nm wavelength of electromagnetic radiation, called the visible light spectrum. Dogs see different wavelengths. These are all functions of physiology; the actual physical construction of the organs detecting the phenomena is directly responsible for what range of phenomena they can detect. Thus each species, even each individual has a unique perceptive range. The main point is, just because we do not perceive it does not mean that it doesn't happen. Scientific instrumentation reveals a lot that we could never perceive with our own senses.

    • rdlang05 profile image

      R D Langr 

      6 years ago from Minnesota

      Awesome answer, thank you! I would say that, from a standpoint of physics, the tree does make a sound. But you bring up an excellent point about natural gas. Thanks for the hub and hopefully this stimulates more thought on the matter!


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