We’ve got categories to describe our perceptions of taste, colors, and sounds. But things aren’t as clear-cut when it comes to our sense of smell. Looking to overcome this surprising limitation, a team of researchers have proposed a list of 10 basic smells.
Indeed, we’re all set when it comes to describing the way our other senses work. Our 100,000 taste buds elicit five different sensations, namely sweet, bitter, sour, salty, and umami (a Japanese word for a pleasant savory taste, but distinct from pure saltiness). When talking about vision, we’re able distinguish between wavelengths by referring to them by color, like red, green, and yellow. And when it comes to sound, we can speak of timbre, dynamic range, and frequency response.