Sunday, March 11, 2007

My dad's immortality

As a kid, one of the most vivid memories I had of my dad was the strong metallic smell, whenever he would hold me (yes I can still remember the time when I was so tiny that my dad could actually hold me). In fact, even now my dad still smells like metal coins, that's due to the nature of his work.

What's funny is that I remember my dad every time I use a key or a coin. And as my little brother put it when he was sleeping in my dad's bed: "I like sleeping here, it's like having part of my dad with me". And that's how I feel sometimes, I feel as if I have bits of my dad scattered everywhere... My dad's immortality written everywhere.

You might feel tempted to inform me that, in fact, it's not "my dad's smell spread all over the world" but the smell of the 33 years of hard labor in metals... Well, you're wrong. It is my dad's smell and, if our sensory system was more efficient, you could have distinguished my dad's smell out of the other billions. Since, according to this article in S&V # 1071 and this article in the ScienceDaily, metals have no smell unless they enter in contact with the human skin. Only then do they react with lipids of the skin and they produce substances, such as 1-octen-3-one.
which has a mushroom-metallic smell and very low odor threshold, meaning that humans can smell it in extremely minute concentrations

And in fact there's absolutely no metal element in these substances, so maybe the metals play a catalyst's role in all this.

Now, what’s shocking when you think about it (if you think about it in the first place) is the fact that the smell is so strong and penetrating to the point where one can’t really stand it. Such sensitivity to a certain stimulus is a direct indication that this smell was important, as simple as that. So what is so important in smelling {skin+metal}?

Very simple, the same reactions would take place if a sample
because the same 'metallic' odor is produced if you rub blood on skin

Which means that prehistoric individuals might have used their strong sensitivity for such smells might have had a better chance in tracking wounded prays, friends or enemies.

So my dad’s smell isn’t so shallow after all, and he’s as immortal as the human kind... Evolution rocks!


shlemazl said...

Yeah, my dad's smell is immortal too. He smokes.

Chris in MB said...

Hey I must smell like aluminum then!

That kinda sucks... iron, steel, copper, brass, nickel, etc... they all sound cool and have a more macho feel to them. :(
They only thing worse than aluminum would be perhaps zinc, that really is a pussy metal.

Perkunas said...

As I'm sure you know, a dog's brain is mostly olfactory permitting them to have a sense of smell about 10,000 times (not sure how accurate this number is) more sensitive than human olfactory. They say smell connects to the deepest and most evocative centers of the brain, since the sense of smell originally evolved from the original external sensory apparatus of aquatic organisms, if that's not too much of a stretch to imagine. I think it's amazing how a rose or anything else for that matter can emit so many molecules that are so evocative and so powerful to the human sense of smell -- I wonder what the physics of smell might be, what is the average size of a molecule that the human nose can smell or what the threshold is for human smell, what numbers of molecules are required for detectable of an odor?

Pazuzu said...

lol shlemazl my dad smokes too, but the metal smell is stronger, much stronger.

Chris, aluminium is better for cuddling i guess, my dad always has black hands because of his work in metals lol... feel lucky to work with a pussy metal :P

perkunas.... man you've opened doors I would have liked to keep closed lol! now you've defied me to make a presentation about smelling and evolution... shit I hope I remember this in a few weeks :P