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Rainwater flows down a roof

Rainwater flows down a roof. Photo: Anna Nikonorova/Shutterstock.com

Love that musky, fresh smell of earth that permeates the air when the first rain of the monsoon hits the parched ground? It is known an petrichor, a pleasant cocktail of fragrant chemical compounds, some produced by plants, others produced by bacteria that live on the soil. These bacteria are the main contributors to the distinct earthly smell. When they die during periods of drought, they release a compound called geosmin which the human nose is extremely sensitive to. But the geosmin can’t get into the air until the first drops of rain splatter on the ground and eject the geosmin molecules from the soil. While researchers are only starting to understand the chemistry behind this wonderful fragrance, a small town in Uttar Pradesh, India, has been capturing this smell in a bottle so that one could wear it on their clothes like a perfume for hundreds of years.


© Amusing Planet, 2020.



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