Hosts: Said & Dari
Aired: Wed 7.21.10 - 10:00-11:00 PM
Listen to the archived program...
Luca Turin is a biophysicist with a long-standing interest in the sense of smell, the art of perfume, and the fragrance industry. He's a leading proponent of the vibrational theory of smell -- the idea that when our noses pick up a scent, we're reacting to the mechanical vibrations of the molecule we're smelling, rather than their shape. The vibrational theory relies on a quantum mechanism and is one of the few instances so far where quantum mechanics is necessary to account a biological process even at a basic level.
His work on olfactory reception enables prediction of what a particular molecule will smell like and has led to an interesting line of work: designing new fragrances and flavor molecules, as part of the firm Flexitral, where he was CTO from 2001 to 2009.
Luca is back in full-time research at MIT and is working on experimental tests of the involvement of quantum mechanics in various areas of Neuroscience.
He is the author of several books on scent, including Perfumes: The Guide and The Secret of Scent, and is the subject of Chandler Burr's 2003 book The Emperor of Scent.