The Secret of Scent is a book about science by way of art, in which the author's passion for perfume leads him to the scientific mystery of what makes one molecule smell of garlic while another smells of rose.
Readers who know Luca Turin as the lively central figure in Chandler Burr's The Emperor of Scent will remember the ongoing debate between two competing theories of smell—one based on molecular shape, the other on molecular vibrations. Now Turin himself describes in detail the science, evidence, and long history of this debate, from the beginnings of organic chemistry to the present day, and pays homage to those before him who got it right. This fascinating and accessible account will appeal to anyone who has ever wondered about smell, still the most mysterious of the senses.
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Luca Turin holds a Ph.D. in biophysics from the University of London. Since 1996 he has worked on primary olfactory reception and the prediction of odor character. In 2001 he became chief technical officer of Flexitral, where he uses his theory of olfaction to design new fragrances and flavor molecules.From Booklist:
Scientists who can poetically convey the worth of their research are rare individuals indeed. Many, in fact, migrate to the professional writer's life, such as Oliver Sacks and Michael Crichton. Turin, already the subject of a previous book (Chandler Burr's The Emperor of Scent, 2003), not only demystifies the "hows" of smell but also chronicles his own discoveries and pays generous homage to others'. Curious beauty noses will sniff out the origins of such famed fragrances as Chanel N5, Opium, and the ever-widening world of musks. [...] The writing, when not tangled up in chemical-compound jargon, sparkles; who could not chuckle at his description of an allergy waiting to happen: "soap powder is, this side of a blowtorch, one of the harshest environments to put fragrance"? Barbara Jacobs
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