We’ve Found the Neurons That Make Smelling a Predator Stressful

A mouse feels panicky. It freezes; its little nose twitches. Something is in the air, and it doesn’t like the smell of it. Not one… little… bit.

In mice, the scent of predators causes a surge of stress hormones to course through the blood and induces behavioral changes. Quite a lot is known about olfaction in mice—Richard Axel and Linda Buck split the Nobel Prize in 2004 for elucidating the organization of the thousand or so unique odorant receptors expressed by the sensory neurons in those little noses.

But the neural circuits that transmit a threatening scent from the nose to the hypothalamus, where the stress hormones are released, were not known. Until now.

Source: We’ve found the neurons that make smelling a predator stressful

The majority of predators a mouse is worried about are sight based predators, and they are (almost) hard-wired to follow motion (think your cat with a laser pointer red dot). Freezing until you know where the predator is is almost certainly a survival trait.  Hard-wired to follow motion, and much more capable of seeing motion. A mouse could be practically invisible against the background — until it moves and then it’s camouflage could be rendered useless.

Works in humans much the same way. At least, I know there have been many, many times where a bird was right in front of me and I didn’t know it, until it moved.  This is part of why blinking lights for cycling came about – solid, always on, lights don’t attract attention if they don’t move fast.  The blink/strobe makes the movement pattern more erratic, in hopes of making cyclists at night or low light situations more obvious.

Sandalwood Odor Could Be a Treatment for Leukemia

Olfactory receptors are not limited to your nose. You have them all over your body, including your blood. Now, synthetic sandalwood has been shown to promote cell death in cancer cells for patients with a certain kind of leukemia. This could open the door for a whole new kind of treatment.

Source: Sandalwood Odor Could Be a Treatment for Leukemia

It’s been known to cause cell death in my nose, too 😉

It’s extremely specific to that one type of cancer, which is understandable – cancer really is just a catch-all for unregulated cell growth.  Different locations have different responses to therapy.

Banish Fridge Funk with a Cotton Ball and Vanilla Extract

We’re not too proud to admit that sometimes our kitchens can get a little…funky. From blackberry caramel sauce to soy-glazed chicken thighs to homemade ramen, sometimes even the most intoxicating scents can linger. After a day or two of “Hey, what’s that smell?” we realize that somewhere along the way, last night’s dinner has become today’s awful stench.

And hey: There’s no shame in admitting we’ve got a problem. It’s all in how you handle it. We here at Bon Appétit prefer to take care of business the old-fashioned way. Sure, harsh chemicals might work in cleaning up a mess, but they leave behind a scent that, in our opinion, can be just as bad as that questionable kimchi. So we rounded up our best folk remedies for ridding your kitchen of even the weirdest, worst smells. Here are our favorites…

Source: How to Get Rid of Kitchen Smells with Natural Remedies

Is it embarrassing to admit that 90 percent of the time taking out the trash fixes the problem? 😉

Don’t try the cotton balls/vanilla extract anywhere near your ice maker, or all ice will have a little bit of vanilla extract in it.

About That “Orgasmic” Mushroom: It Probably Doesn’t Exist

There’s a rumor flying around the internet about a Hawaiian mushroom whose scent gives women orgasms. I’m sorry to disappoint, but there’s absolutely no credible evidence to support that claim.

Source: About That “Orgasmic” Mushroom: It Probably Doesn’t Exist

So much for the magic mushroom…

Get Ripped, Not Rude: Ten Rules for Proper Gym Etiquette

Jerks are everywhere, but people being jerks in the gym can be especially grating. All you want to do is lift heavy stuff in peace, but there they are, with their sweaty butt imprints on a bench, loud conversations on the phone, and equipment strewn all over the floor. Oops—does that sound like you? Here’s how to make the gym a better place for all.

Source: Get Ripped, Not Rude: Ten Rules for Proper Gym Etiquette

One rule the article missed: Most women do not go to the gym seeking a hot date.

Why is a Compound That Smells Like Feces Put in Perfume And Chocolate?

I told you my poop smelled like roses. 😀

You’ve undoubtedly smelled indole. Perfumers add it to flowery fragrances, but it’s also added to chocolates, coffees, and fruity-flavored sweets. That doesn’t sound bad—until you learn that concentrated indole smells like poop. Because it’s actually found in poop.

Source: Why is a Compound That Smells Like Feces Put in Perfume And Chocolate?

Actually, this stuff is only added to American chocolate, (Indole 3 – Butyric Acid) and yes, most non-Americans can tell and wonder why you eat chocolate that smells like vomit and tastes worse.

Humans Unconsciously Sniff Their Hands After Handshaking

You won’t believe you do it, but you do. After shaking hands with someone, you’ll lift your hands to your face and take a deep sniff. This newly discovered behaviour – revealed by covert filming – suggests that much like other mammals, humans use bodily smells to convey information.

Source: After handshakes, we sniff people’s scent on our hand

Sample size was 153 people!   See for yourself:

Thank you, science, for ruining every future handshake I’ll have to make.  And a handshake is regarded as a disease vector – there has been suggestion that the “fist bump” is more hygienic because the back of the hand doesn’t come into contact with bacteria as much, and is less likely to support bacteria once transferred between people.