We can hear about a 340,000 different tones and see a several million colors, and researchers at the Rockerfeller University surmise that our noses are at least a million times more discerning. Odors, unlike sounds and colors, are made up of many different molecules—for instance, there are 275 components in the scent of a rose. In a new study, participants were able to differentiate between odors, even when they shared 51 percent of their molecular make up. Extrapolating from this data, the scientists estimate that we can recognize one trillion different scents, and probably way more than that.

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