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sed30's Blog

Railways & other things

Petrichor – The sweet smell of falling rain.

Stephen Liddell

It’s a sensation most of us familiar with though if you’re living in much of the Northern Hemisphere then like me, it might not be one you’ve been familiar with recently.  The sweet smell of rain or Petrichor.    The name was first coined by two Australian scientists Isabel Joy Bear and Richard Thomas in their 1964 article “Nature of Argillaceous Odour”, published in the journal Nature.

The word was coined from Greek petros, meaning “stone”, and ichor, meaning “the fluid that flows in the veins of the gods”.

It turns out it’s not just gratitude that makes rain smell so appealing after a long period of dry weather.  There’s actually some chemistry involved too.

Bacteria, plants and even lightning can all play a role in the pleasant smell we experience after a thunderstorm; that of clean air and wet earth.

“These critters are abundant in soil,” explained Prof Mark…

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