What the Nose Knows: The Science of Scent in Everyday Life

by Avery Gilbert

Popular Science

LoveReading Expert Review of What the Nose Knows: The Science of Scent in Everyday Life

Shortlisted for the 2009 Royal Society Prize for Science Books.

Our noses hoover up an amazing range of scents yet sense of smell and its place in our sensory life is still something of a mystery. Avery Gilbert takes a tour through our olfactory senses showing the astonishing range of smells – good and bad we can detect, how we do it and even why.


Comparison: The Secret of Scent by Luca Turin, The Emperor of Scent: A Story of Perfume, Obsession, the Last of the Senses by Chandler Burr

Sue Baker

What the Nose Knows: The Science of Scent in Everyday Life Synopsis

• How many smells are there? And how many molecules would it take to create every smell in nature, from roses to stinky feet?

• Who was the bigger scent freak: the perfume-obsessed Richard Wagner or Emily Dickinson, with her creepy passion for flowers?

• By scenting the air in stores, are retailers turning us into subliminally controlled shopping zombies?

• Were Smell-O-Vision and AromaRama mere Hollywood fads or serious technologies?

Everything about the sense of smell fascinates us, from its power to evoke memories to its ability to change our moods and influence our behavior. Yet because it is the least understood of the senses, myths abound. For example, contrary to popular belief, the human nose is almost as sensitive as the noses of many animals, including dogs; blind people do not have enhanced powers of smell; and perfumers excel at their jobs not because they have superior noses, but because they have perfected the art of thinking about scents.

In this entertaining and enlightening journey through the world of aroma, olfaction expert Avery Gilbert illuminates the latest scientific discoveries and offers keen observations on modern culture: how a museum is preserving the smells of John Steinbeck’s Cannery Row; why John Waters revived the “smellie” in Polyester; and what innovations are coming from artists like the Dutch “aroma jockey” known as Odo7. From brain-imaging laboratories to the high-stakes world of scent marketing, What the Nose Knows takes us on a tour of the strange and surprising realm of smell.

About This Edition

ISBN: 9781400082346
Publication date: 1st June 2008
Author: Avery Gilbert
Publisher: Random House Usa Inc
Format: Hardback
Pagination: 304 pages
Primary Genre Popular Science

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Other editions of this book

ISBN: 9781400082346
Publication date: 01/06/2008
Format: Hardback

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About Avery Gilbert

Avery Gilbert is a psychologist, smell scientist, and entrepreneur. His groundbreaking studies in odor perception have been published in scientific journals, and he has helped design commercial scents for everything from perfume to kitty litter. He lives in Montclair, New Jersey.   Photo © Alice Gilbert

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