How Sweet is Too Sweet?

A cursory Google search shows lugduname to be the sweetest chemical compound, with roughly 220,000 times the sweetness of regular sugar. Now, my question is a bit silly, but I really want to know: If too much light can blind and too much noise can damage the ear, could this compound damage the taste buds?

Thanks. :slight_smile:

I don’t think so; intense light damages the retina by burning it - literally delivering more energy per square millimetre than the tissue can physically withstand, loud sound damages the inner ear because sound is vibration and too much vibration literally starts to sjhake things to pieces. Sweetness, on the other hand, is sensed when certain chemical receptors on your tongue are stimulated because a corresponding chemical stimulant ‘locks’ in place on them - the intensity of sweetness corresponds to the number of receptors being simultaneously stimulated.

I suppose there might be some hypothetical chemical that would bind permanently to your taste receptors, but I suspect even that wouldn’t be permanent, as the receptors are constantly replenished.

Now I’m going to attempt this without cites and will be depending on my feeble brain to recall that somewhere I read that the odor emitted by skunks is actually a sweet aroma. Too sweet in fact. The intensity is so great that most people find it repugnant. However, when the secretion is diluted considerably the results are a sweet perfume that is appealing to the human olfactory senses.

As I said though, this may be total bullshit. I read it somewhere…once upon a time, a long time ago and perhaps in a galaxy far away. :wink:

Only if it’s somehow injurious to flesh. The brightness of light and the loudness of sound correspond to the amount of energy contained, and naturally the extremely sensitive (and thus delicate) sense organs can’t cope with too much energy at once - but very high-energy, ‘bright’ invisible radiation, like UV or microwaves could just as easily damage the eyes. So it’s not the fact that it’s perceptively bright, but that it’s high in energy.

I’m not a scientist, and the next part is more WAGgish territory, but boldly I proceed nonetheless. The intensity of a taste depends, I assume, on the configuration of the sense receptors on the tongue. If a molecule fits well, it activates the sensors strongly; the chemical listed is just one that is shaped just right for your sweetness receptors. There’s nothing about that that should cause damage to your tongue.

Sorry I forgot about the tasting part of the OP. I’ll let you be the judge of that though.
Damage? If you’ve ever been sprayed by a skunk you’d probably say yes. It definitely burns your eyes and nose. Probably more so from whatever chemical reaction is taking place. The taste…my god…there’s no way to describe the wretchedness.
But actual damage, nothing permanent but longlasting indeed. Unless you hurt yourself trying to get away. :smiley:

The scent of violets apparently (temporarily) deadens the odour receptors so that you can’t smell the flower a second time, but I’m not sure if this is the nature of the fragrant chemical, or a coincidental action of a different one.

Admittedly, I like the smell of skunk. So long as I’m not directly next to the spraying creature or being sprayed upon. If I pass a dead skunk on the road I usually enjoy the smell.

Taste can be dulled (going from something sweet(1), to more sweet(2), to sweet(1) your ability to percieve sweet(1) is impaired) and also though I’m not sure of the scientific explanation something like brushing your teeth will also effect your perception of tastes.
It’s not exactly taste-blindness, but I suppose it is similar.

I’m sorry to hear it, t-keela! I’d offer a hug, but I have an urgent appointment half a mile upwind.

(I do like appropriately diluted skunk scent. There’s a patch of woods about half a mile away from my place, and I sometimes get a very nice whiff from there.)