Image of Los Alamos
This section begins when Feynman is visiting his wife at the hospital in Albuquerque, when he had time off from Los Alamos. While in the hospital library, he reads in article in Science about bloodhounds and how they could smell so well. He read about the experiments that were performed on the bloodhounds and began to wonder how good people could be at smelling things.
When Feynman went in to see his wife, he decided to perform an experiment. There was an empty six-pack of Coke bottles in her room. He brought the six pack over to his wife and told her to pick one of the bottles and handle it for about two minutes and then put it back. Feynman left the room while she did this and then came back in after some time had passed. When he came back to examine the bottles, it was very obvious which one she had chosen. He could tell because of the temperature but also because of the smell. He decided it was too obvious. He decided to try the experiment again with some books on a bookshelf. This time he told his wife to just pick a book, open it and close it, then put it back. Once again, the answer was obvious to him because of the smell.
Physics Laboratory at Caltech
Richard Feynman giving a speech at Caltech
Years later, when Feynman was first at Caltech, he went to a party at Professor Bacher's house. He was talking to a group of people from Caltech when the story of smelling the bottles came up. Nobody believed a word of it. So, Feynman decided to perform the experiment again. He left the room and had three people touch three different books to see if he could identify who touched which book. He came back, smelled everyone's hands, and then smelled the books. He found the three books correctly and got one person wrong. Yet, the people still did not believe him. They thought he was doing some sort of magic trick or was having someone give him signals. Feynman explains that people have different smelling hands. He says that hands have a moist scent to them and a nonsmoker's hand smells very different from a smoker's; as well as a woman's hand smells different from a man's, usually because of perfume or lotion.
Feynman noticed that his dog can tell which way he went throught the house by smelling the footprints. So, he experimented that as well. He crawled around the floor trying to figure where he had walked. This time, he found it impossible to tell. This is how he realized how capable the dogs really were. But, he also learned that humans are not as incapable as they assume that they are, they just have to experiment!