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the science of scent

February 18, 2011

In honour of the fact that the bf and I will be attending a TED talk tomorrow, I’m going to share this video from 2005 of Biophysicist Luca Turin explaining the molecular science behind scent. If Sci-Unce isn’t really your thing, you’ll want to know this: scientists need to get out of academia and into private-sector labs to create safer synthetic scents (amongst many other useful things…of course.)

I know, natural scent is MUCH better in pretty much every way, but I don’t think synthetic anything is going anywhere. Not anytime soon. Everybody can benefit from thorough research in industry labs, since most of our everyday products are loaded with synthetic scent. And not just thorough research, but more innovative research so we can not just detect harm, but find practical solutions. (Luca Turin being extremely innovative himself comes up with a very clever notion of scent!)

But why care so much about scent? Here’s my two scents (ha!!!!). Many synthetic scents that people use on a daily have been around since 18-0h-whatever, are known carcinogens (such as coumarin…check your prods, it’s in everything…especially “manly” smelling products). Yep. KNOWN carcinogens.

Clearly, this is bad… in fact, it’s like a sad, sick joke.

Doesn’t it kind of blow your mind that the companies that manufacturer and sell the household and personal products we use -from dishsoap to the oil we slather on babies- know that these items are harmful? it probably doesn’t phase many people very much, because we have come to expect this as the reality of the world we live in. But that’s another rant altogether (and we’ll get there, my friends).

Thank goodness for people who make lovely, safe products like me, right? Right. I love you.

Oh, and according to this TED talk, scent could be a vibration, much like sound! Neat, huh?

Anyhow, watch the video and get your learn on! (it takes a little bit to get interesting, so grab a cup of tea and be patient.)