Tuesday, November 07, 2006

The Chemical Basis of Life

Life is a chemistry experiment. For most moblie organisms it is about detecting the chemicals required for continuing life and avoiding those that are life threatening.

It would be surprising if the sense of smell was not highly developed in all organisms. In this respect I believe man is no different from the rest of the animal kingdom. Now it is true that dogs can smell many things at a 10 times less concentration than humans need for reliable detection. Still the ability is there.

The human body is of course a chemical system. This systems transient chemical output is ruled by what we call emotions. The biggies are fear, anger and love. Think of frases like "love is in the air" of "you could smell the fear". When you are fearful the emotional system causes a rush of fear chemicals. And these chemicals seep out through the skin. Rather rapidly I think. Within a few seconds of their manufacture. The sense of smell is linked to the emotional centers of the brain. Which is handy under most circumstances.

We smell those chemicals, which is why we know when fear is in the air. Very handy when dealing with wild beasts or crazy men.

For humans the subtler emotions produce a subtle range of chemicals depending on the emotional state. I believe if you pay attention you can smell those chemicals and identify the emotions behind them. Which means that humans (and probably other animals that travel in groups) are constantly signaling each other about their emotional state.

Which brings me to the question of mental hospitals. It may be that paranoids are very sensitive to the chemicals of fear and anger. Just think of what living with a group of totally fearful people would be like. Since the group is signaling danger one would naturally want to figure out what that danger was and avoid it. I believe that ventilation systems for mental hospitals should be designed with this in mind.

As far as I know no experiments have yet been done to identify the chemical make up of fear, or anger, or love in humans. I'm not even sure any animal experiments have been done. A quick google search did not turn up anything useful in this regards. Oh there was research recently reported that women could tell by sense of smell the difference between dominant and compliant men. However, I couldn't find anything on identification of the chemicals and their relative proportions.

No comments: