“Sensory Islands”

For a select few, the molecule androstenone, which can show up in pork, smells like urine. Veronique Greenwood ponders this curiosity:

Unlike color blindness—which, for instance, can get you disqualified from being a fighter pilot—this kind of sensory variation does not tend to get to put on the spot in our culture. But to read these studies is to be reminded that individual human experience is ultimately private. We are all feeling the world through a wall peppered with tiny holes, whose shape and size are defined by complicated interactions of genetics and experience. We’re sensory islands, each unique, and though we may forget it most of the time, it’s with a sense of wonder that we rediscover it in something as mundane as wondering if pork chops have a faint odor of pee about them.

Related Dish on the smell of asparagus-tainted pee here.