This week's LabZone activity
March 15, 2006
Wanna bet you can't taste the difference between an apple, an onion, and a potato!
The setup: Put on a blindfold and hold your nose. Have a friend put a small piece of apple, potato, or onion on the center of your tongue. Try to identify it just by taste. No chewing allowed. Now do the same thing with small pieces of the other two things. You will discover a mystery in your mouth.
The fix: Learning how tasteless you are may be hard to swallow. Your tongue is able to identify only four tastes: salt, sweet, sour, and bitter. The identifying organs, called taste buds, are not spread evenly over the tongue. The center, where you placed the test materials, has fewer taste buds than other parts of the tongue.
What we think of as taste is really a combination of taste, smell, and texture or "mouth feel" of foods. This trick eliminates the smell and feel clues, and it leaves only the bitter taste of defeat.
Another taste tricker to try: Eat an apple while you hold a cut pear under your nose.
Reprinted with permission from Wanna Bet? Science Challenges to Fool You by Vicki Cobb and Kathy Darling. Published by Lothrop, Lee & Shepard Books. Text copyright © 1993 by Vicki Cobb (www.vickicobb.com) and Kathy Darling.
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