Product Description From The New Yorker A French perfumer asked to describe a particular scent molecule declares "It smells of the woman who neglects herself." It's precisely this pungent leap from chemistry to metaphor that Burr negotiates so well in his fascinating and lucid book about the sense of smell. No one really knows how the nose works. For the person who figures it out a Nobel prize surely waits along with the lucrative gratitude of the multinational perfume companies. Burr's candidate is Luca Turin a London-based research scientist whom he presents as a Continental rogue unfettered polymath and pure sensualist. Turin is good company and his "vibrational" theory of smell neatly upends conventional thinking by claiming that the nose is the body's spectroscope and analyzes molecules by electron bond rather than by shape. As both the author and the subject admit the evidence is still preliminary but the details of Turin's work unfold like a revelation. For his part Burr does a fine job of turning both the science and the academic jockeying around a possible publication in Nature into a pulse-racing affair. Copyright © 2005 The New Yorker From Booklist Science is supposed to be rational and objective but in the real world as mettlesome journalist Burr discovered while chronicling an ingenuous scientist's approach to solving one of the greatest mysteries of the body how smell works it is more often ego-driven avaricious and viciously resistant to fresh ideas. Burr author of A Separate Creation (1996) met Luca Turin by chance just one of the countless serendipitous moments that typify this cosmopolitan biophysicist's intuitive and innovative approach to science. Possessed of a capacious intellect an obsession with smell and a passion for perfume Turin has always Burr writes "picked up information like flypaper." This gift coupled with Turin's preternaturally sensitive nose phenomenal memory and prodigious ability to precisely describe scents enabled him to write his renowned Parfums: Le Guide (1992)--which granted him precious access to the secretive big seven fragrance corporations--and to think outside the box and challenge the clearly flawed but persistent theory that scents are recognized by molecular shape. Turin is certain that it's molecular vibrations and the scandalous story of his thwarted efforts to publish his exciting and provocative findings thanks to Burr's vigorous writing style incisive portraits and scientific explication is as suspenseful as it is fascinating. Donna Seaman Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved See all Product Description
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