Magazine article USA TODAY

Is That Right? the Smell of White?

Magazine article USA TODAY

Is That Right? the Smell of White?

Article excerpt

You can see the color white and you can hear white noise. Now, researchers at Israel's Weizmann Institute of Science show that an individual also can smell a white odor.

The white we see actually is a mixture of light waves of different wavelengths. In a similar manner, the hum we call white noise is made of a combination of assorted sound frequencies. In either case, to be perceived as white, a stimulus must meet two conditions: the mix that produces it must span the range of our perception, and each component must be present at the exact same intensity. Could both of these conditions be met with odors, so as to produce a white smell? That question has remained unanswered, until now, in part due to such technical difficulties as getting the intensities of all the scents to be identical.

A research team in the Department of Neurobiology, led by research students Tall Weiss and Kobi Snitz, both in the group of Prof. …

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