Posts tagged ‘smell’

It’s Normal For Half Your Nose to Always Feel Blocked

By Chad Upton | Editor

You probably don’t think about it much, but if you did, you’d notice that it often feels like one nostril or the other is always plugged. That’s completely normal for about 70% of adults.

Assuming you’re healthy, your “plugged” nostril actually allows a tiny amount of air through and your other nostril handles the rest. After an average of 2.5 hours, the cycle will shift and use the alternate nostril as the primary source of air. The following scan shows one nasal passage mostly blocked and the other mostly open.

For a long time, Eastern medicine has had theories about the purpose of this cycle and a number of exercises that involve moving air through a specific nostril. On the other hand, Western scientists didn’t come up with a physiological purpose for this phenomena until more recently.

Research indicates that the high/low flow approach in the two nostrils optimizes your sense of smell. As you’ve probably discovered first hand, or shall we say finger, the inside of your nose is lined with mucus. This mucus continues deep inside your nasal passage and is very important; it acts as a barrier and helps protect your brain from infection. But, it also means that something you smell has to be absorbed by the mucus before you can smell it. (more…)

January 5, 2012 at 2:00 am 29 comments

The “Asparagus Effect” is Not Universal

By Kyle Kurpinski

Have you ever noticed a peculiar odor from your urine after eating asparagus? If so, you’re not alone. The “asparagus effect” has been documented since at least the 1700’s and was scientifically analyzed as early as 1891 when a chemist named Marceli Nencki attributed the smell to the chemical “methanethiol.” Most people would probably be satisfied with this explanation and move on, but science leaves no stone unturned; we now know that the distinct aroma is actually due to an intricate combination of sulfur-containing compounds (including methanethiol) formed during the breakdown of asparagusic acid.

So, mystery solved, right? Not quite.

Ask around, and you will find that only a portion of the population actually experiences the asparagus effect. A few early studies in the 1980’s reported that not everyone could smell the asparagus-induced odor, but those who could smelled it in all available samples, suggesting that everyone produces the aroma after eating asparagus, but only a portion of the population has the ability to detect it; a characteristic that was subsequently linked to a specific mutation in a group of olfactory genes. However, a more recent study in 2010 reported that a small percentage of people may not produce the odor at all, likely due to differences in the way they metabolize asparagusic acid.

In short, if you don’t notice the odor in your pee after an asparagus-heavy meal, you either have a unique, asparagus-proof metabolism or you simply lack the smell receptors to perceive your own stinkiness. If you do experience the asparagus effect, keep in mind that the odor-inducing precursor compounds are more prevalent in younger plants, so the smell will be less pronounced if you eat asparagus that is a little more mature. The effect is also extremely rapid – producing smelly pee in as little as 15-30 min after ingesting – so plan ahead if you’re thinking about eating asparagus on a hot date.

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Source: Wikipedia, Monell Center, The Guardian, The Discovery Channel, British Medical Journal

Image: Jonathan Moreau (cc)

July 10, 2011 at 12:00 pm 5 comments

How to Remove Skunk Smell from Pets, Clothes, etc.

When I was a teenager, I heard an awful noise in our backyard. It was a loud and fearful shriek, like nothing I had heard before; it was followed by the yelping of our yellow Labrador.

Our dog Trooper had just been sprayed by a skunk and he was not happy about it. Frankly, nobody on our block was happy that warm spring night. I could hear the neighbors disgust as they went from room to room and shut their windows.

My mom bathed the dog in the backyard and I went to buy tomato juice. We bathed him in Tomato juice for a while and it was mildly effective.

But, there are some better alternatives.

The home remedy is a foaming mixture:

  • 1 Quart Hydrogen Peroxide (3%)
  • 1/4 Cup  Baking Soda
  • 2 Tbsp Dish-washing Soap (not dishwasher detergent)

The baking soda and hydrogen peroxide will create oxygen bubbles that react with the thiols in skunk oil to neutralize the smell. Be sure to use the mixture right away, while it is foaming, before the bubbles dissolve. This was proven to be more effective than tomato juice by Myth Busters in episode 16. This potion can be used on clothing, people and animals.

If you you’re a planner or have a time to go to a local pharmacy, you can pickup a product called Tecnu — I found many internet users who claim it is more effective than the homemade brew while Myth Busters found the home brew concoction to be more effective than commercial products.

Regardless of which method you choose, you should use a proper eye cleaning solution for your pet’s eyes and put cotton balls in their ears to prevent these solutions from getting in their ears.

Broken Secrets | Chad Upton

Sources: eHow, Skunk Removal Recipe, Myth Busters

July 7, 2010 at 5:00 am 3 comments

Rotten Eggs Float

Whether you throw away the carton and use the egg holder in your fridge or you just don’t believe the expiry date, there will come a time when you question the edibility of eggs.

There is an easy way to test them.

Fill a container with water and gently place the egg inside it. If it sinks, it’s good to eat. If it floats, throw it out. If it weighs the same as a duck, it’s a witch.

Why?

Eggs naturally have a small air pocket in them. In fact, a bright light is used during a process called candling to determine the size of this air cell. The size of the air cell is used to determine the grade of an egg. Grade AA eggs have the smallest air cell, and as the air cell gets large the egg is given a lower grade (A, B…etc).

This air cell increases as the egg ages. There are two schools of thought about why. Some say the eggshell is porous and allows some liquid to escape and air to enter. Others say a chemical reaction takes place inside, which results in the larger air chamber and the awful smell when they are rotten. I couldn’t find a definitive answer to why the air cell increases in size, but nobody disputed the fact that it does.

Because the air cell increases, it makes the egg less dense, meaning it will float in water with enough time.

The smell of rotten eggs is a popular description for the smell of sulfur. There’s good reason for that, eggs contain a fair amount of sulfur because it is necessary for feather formation. This smell becomes more prevalent as eggs age.

Thanks to my wife Kristen for this secret.

Broken Secrets | By: Chad Upton

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Source: Eggs WP, Sulfur WP, What’s Cooking America, O Chef

May 6, 2010 at 12:15 am 1 comment


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