The Difficulties of Accounting for Taste
We have tools to measure things like length, weight, and time, making it easy for us to tell other people exactly what we mean: dinner will be ready in five minutes; that person jumped 3 meters; the bag I carried to the airport weighed 10 kilograms, and so on. But measuring taste is much harder. When we eat an ice-cream, we know that it tastes "sweet"—but since everyone experiences taste slightly differently, it is difficult to describe to someone else exactly what it tastes like. Japanese scientists have led the world in developing precision equipment for many years. Recently, they invented the first ever device for measuring flavors accurately and scientifically. The new "taste sensor" measures flavors objectively, making it possible to compare subtle differences between flavors.
Plenty of people have tried to measure taste in the past. One attempt involved trying to measure the flavor of food—a cake, for example—by identifying all the different ingredients and analyzing each one to define the overall flavor of the cake. But there were too many different elements contributing to the overall flavor, and it proved impossible to analyze them all. Also, the individual elements combine together to produce even more flavors, making the problem of measuring them accurately even more difficult.