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Captured, the sweet scent of happiness


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It would be the ultimate perfume: a scent that evokes universal happiness. While we're not there yet, a method of identifying scents that provoke the same response in everyone who smells them has brought that ideal a step closer.

 

For years, sensory scientists had assumed that our reactions to smell were hopelessly entwined with our cultural background. "When I came to the UK I was shocked that the smell of chrysanthemums evokes romantic feelings in people here," says Phillipe Durand, a perfumer at fragrance development company Quest International in Ashford, Kent. "In France we associate it with graves and death."

 

However, there is mounting evidence from brain scans that our responses to some smells, particularly bad ones, are innate, says Tim Jacob, a smell expert at Cardiff University, UK. "That makes sense because if you had to wait and learn 'this smell kills you' you'd be dead," he says.

 

To investigate whether our responses to pleasant smells are also hard-wired, John Behan and Anne Churchill from Quest combined measurements of brainwave patterns on EEGs with questionnaires to gauge the responses of people from the UK, France, Germany and Japan while smelling a range of fragrances. "The EEG data is an objective measure of emotional response to fragrance," says Churchill, which is important because verbal response can often be misleading.

 

They tested around 50 fragrances on between 20 and 30 people. In most cases, while people from the same country identified smells as producing the same feeling, for instance an "invigorating experience", the scans revealed varying levels of brainwave activity related to alertness. Even the fragrance of lavender, which is thought to relax most people, did not produce the same brain response in everyone. "That surprised me," says Churchill, who now believes that emotional responses to these smells are culturally dependent.

 

There was, however, a subset of "relaxing" fragrances that did produce a consistent pattern across her test group. "The observations are consistent with the idea that while most responses to pleasant smells are learned, some are innate," says Gary Beauchamp, director of the Monell Chemical Senses Center in Philadelphia. "That's exciting."

 

Behan suggests that in evolutionary terms, sweet and musky smells might fall into the same bracket because they are reminiscent of breastfeeding.

 

While the technique won't replace the human perfumer, who is still needed to concoct new fragrances, it may help predict which ones will stand the test of time, says sensory psychologist Steve van Toller of the University of Warwick, UK. "Perfumers need to marry fragrance with science if they want to create long-term commercial hits," he says.

 

A headache for perfume makers

Chanel No 5 is considered to be the epitome of a timeless fragrance, but its subtleties may have changed over the years. "Regulations introduced since it was created in 1921 have forced many of the original ingredients out of the perfumer's palette," says John Ayres, Chairman of Fragrance Foundation UK, in London. If new European legislationis passed in December, other cosmetics may have to be reformulated or removed from the shelves entirely.

 

Last week, members of the European parliament's environment committee voted in favour of a draft version of Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation and Restriction of Chemicals. REACH calls for manufacturers importing more than 1 tonne of a chemical substance per year to test it for safety and then register it in a central database.

 

Many chemical manufacturers worry that this will force them to retest chemicals they have been using safely for years. Smaller companies may have to stop producing some cosmetics ingredients completely because they are unable to afford the tests, warns Chris Flowers of the Cosmetic Toiletry and Perfumery Association in London. "Inevitably, there will be a range of everyday products that suddenly won't be available on the shelves because we won't be able to make them," he says.

 

REACH has to pass two more rounds of voting before it can become law, so modifications could still be made.

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OPVS ARTIFICEM PROBAT

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It is a good thing that I do have very weak olfactory senses.

Murphy's Law of Computer Gaming: The listed minimum specifications written on the box by the publisher are not the minimum specifications of the game set by the developer.

 

@\NightandtheShape/@ - "Because you're a bizzare strange deranged human?"

Walsingham- "Sand - always rushing around, stirring up apathy."

Joseph Bulock - "Another headache, courtesy of Sand"

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I guess it's scientifically interesting, but since a smell doesn't have to be universal to trigger feelings of relaxation or pleasure in people, I don't see how it's "exciting". People can already find smells they like individually and use those for happy-smelling.

 

Perhaps they're thinking it'd be useful in anti-depressant research or something? Otherwise...just sounds like a way to sell more perfume. :wacko:

“Things are as they are. Looking out into the universe at night, we make no comparisons between right and wrong stars, nor between well and badly arranged constellations.” – Alan Watts
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Why in the world would I want to make garbage smell pretty? So I can keep it inside the house in a large bucket? I'll pass. :D

“Things are as they are. Looking out into the universe at night, we make no comparisons between right and wrong stars, nor between well and badly arranged constellations.” – Alan Watts
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So the poor (male) person who has to deal with it can not be overwelmed by the odour. :wacko:

Think of adding a pleasant scent to something like the garbage. :wacko:

That wont work :wacko: the smells will combine to be super disgusting. :x

Not if they can invent odour-remover!

OBSCVRVM PER OBSCVRIVS ET IGNOTVM PER IGNOTIVS

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I think that we best stay away from nanotechnology. The last thing we need is someone making a bug in the programming of these robots and then *POOF* a planet of grey goo.

Murphy's Law of Computer Gaming: The listed minimum specifications written on the box by the publisher are not the minimum specifications of the game set by the developer.

 

@\NightandtheShape/@ - "Because you're a bizzare strange deranged human?"

Walsingham- "Sand - always rushing around, stirring up apathy."

Joseph Bulock - "Another headache, courtesy of Sand"

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Just use the cleaning bots to cleans the atmosphere, thus removing the swell of nanites. :lol:

So what is the difference between taking in the aroma of that bouquet and the  artificial scent? :)

The chemicals are the same, and they promotes the same change in the brain as a drug, such as Lady Crimson said about antidepressants.

 

If there is a smell that promotes universal happiness, the pessimist in me says it would be used for global domination. If not then I think it would numb people to reality.

Speaking from the point of view of someone who thinks misery is needed to balance happiness. I think life would be a bit unbearable if everyone was walking around with grins :)

Edited by Purgatorio

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I think that we best stay away from nanotechnology.  The last thing we need is someone making a bug in the programming of these robots and then *POOF* a planet of grey goo.

 

 

Do you honestly think that we're just going to 'stay away' from it? It's already too late, the horse has already left the gate. There's already far too much invested in nanotech to just pull out now.

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So what is the difference between taking in the aroma of that bouquet and the  artificial scent? :thumbsup:

The chemicals are the same, and they promotes the same change in the brain as a drug, such as Lady Crimson said about antidepressants.

 

If there is a smell that promotes universal happiness, the pessimist in me says it would be used for global domination. If not then I think it would numb people to reality.

Speaking from the point of view of someone who thinks misery is needed to balance happiness. I think life would be a bit unbearable if everyone was walking around with grins :)

That's an additional supposition, though: no-one was implying a "universal mood enhancer" would be added to the water supply, just targeted to those who wanted it. I don't know too many people who suffer from depression (and about 15% of the entire population does) that would willingly choose to keep suffering from it.

 

Things that force me to be happy against my will make me angry!  :huh:"

Me too! A joyful, righteous indignation! :D

OBSCVRVM PER OBSCVRIVS ET IGNOTVM PER IGNOTIVS

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:ermm: Which supposition are you referring to...I only have suppositions for I know nothing for certain. :-" I wasn't suggesting for the mentally ill, more the effect it may have. I was wondering if others thought it would be an illusion ie a false state of happiness, and whether people in that state would be aware of its falseness, if they did would they go mad?

Of course it's possible to suppose that any level of consciousness could be an illusion... Just as it's possible that anything we perceive to be true is true..... :) my :huh: head :) hurts :( but that becomes confusing so I was trying to keep away from that train of thought.

 

It would be interesting considering it could have no side-effects as a recreational drug... But drug abuse is bad....apparently.

:D

S.A.S.I.S.P.G.M.D.G.S.M.B.

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