Don't be fooled by the title of this blog. I don't discuss herbs very much here. This blog is general-purpose, although I do like ranting about politics and religion.

Wednesday, October 06, 2004

Odoriferous Nobel Prize

My wife came to me this evening laughing about how two scientists had gotten a Nobel Prize for discovering that smells went up into the brain. "How ridiculous," she said. "A million dollars for 'discovering' something that everyone already knew!"

Well, it isn't quite that way it is, as it turns out. What the two scientists, Richard Axel and Linda Buck, discovered, isn't that smells went up into the brain, but they identified the genes that made it possible for the brain to categorize and "remember" odors. The CBS news article said:

"Their genetic work revealed a family of "receptor" proteins in the nose that recognize odors, and they illuminated how the odor information is
transmitted to the brain."

This is quite enlightening, and while their research doesn't have any immediate implications for medicine, it may in time have such.

One thing that really caught my attention, however, was this nugget:

"For two scientists to single-handedly map one of the major human senses is unique in the history of science."
I'll say. They must have been working very closely together indeed for the two of them to "single-handedly" do something.


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