Hear, Speak, See and Smell No Evil
by Delilah Sheraton
They say that the human olfactory sense is a lost primal connection. Certain smells can conjure up the most buried animalistic urges. If this is truly the case, then what does this mean for the residents of Beijing? In a city that's landmarked with stenches (i.e. make a right at the next hutong and follow the toilet odor for 50 meters), are Beijingers reacting to their environment? A recent study done at Tsinghua University indicates the answer: No. In fact, the study which gathered data from over 20 different provinces, revealed a startling truth: 8 out of 10 people in Beijing are mononasalyptic.
"Mononasalypticism is a condition in which a person is immune to repulsive smells, such as rotten trash and toxic chemicals," explained Dr. Wu Tang, emeritus professor of the Bioengineering Department at Tsinghua University. "Conclusive evidence shows that mononasalyptic people have a very high tolerance to nasty odors, and are much better at adapting to their environments."
On your average August day, the summer humidity in Beijing can reach a sweat-sticky 93% humidity. The hot, moist surroundings aid to marinate the city stank. "We like to make a game out of it," said Akemi Yokomono, referring to herself and fellow classmate at Beijing University, Isiko Tashimi. "When we're riding the bus, we like to close our eyes and try to guess where we are by inhaling the strange smells in the air," explained the 19 year old student from abroad. But the average Beijing resident is deprived of participating in this sort of fun and games.
"This discovery may be an advantage for China," noted Dr. Wu Tang, whose research team has developed some very practical uses for the city's foul odors. Currently his staff is collaborating on a project with a local biotech company that specializes in household cleansers and insect repellent. Dr. Wu assures that in absolutely no way is the venture connected with biological warfare research.