Quantum physics could explain our sense of smell

Did you know that nobody really knows how the nose knows? But some scientists think our sense of smell could come down to quantum physics:

The key, [scientists] say, is tiny packets of energy, or quanta, lost by electrons.

Experiments using tiny wires show that as electrons move on proteins within the nose, odour molecules could absorb these quanta and thereby be detected.

The way our brains translate raw data from our noses into a smell is apparently understood, but how our noses recognize odor molecules in the first place is still largely unknown. The quantum explanation, once highly debatable, now appears to be more plausible with the results from these experiments.

Recommended reading:

  • Alice in Quantum Land: An Allegory of Quantum Physics by Robert Gilmore
  • In Search of Schrödinger’s Cat by John Gribbin
  • Introducing Quantum Theory: A Graphic Guide to Science’s Most Puzzling Discovery by J.P. McEvoy

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