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On the Scent: A Journey Through the Science of Smell

Popular Science
Traces how scientists are finally unravelling the chemical alphabet behind the variety of smells we experience
Explains the vital role played by smell in a variety of animals, and how we humans are losing our sense of smell
Provides an engaging account celebrating the role of smells in our lives, from freshly baked bread to the scent of a rose
Describes the efforts to harness the sense of smell in marketing and broadcasting, and the development of "electronic noses"
Written by a leading scientist in the field

By: Paolo Pelosi (Author)

288 pages, 28 b/w illustrations

Oxford University Press

Hardback | Mar 2016 | #228951 | ISBN-13: 9780198719052
Availability: Usually dispatched within 48 hours
NHBS Price: £18.99 $23/€21 approx

About this book

In humans, the perception of odours adds a fourth dimension to life, from the scent of flowers, the aroma of foods, and all the subtle smells in the environment. But how many types of odours can we distinguish? Why do we like the food we like? Which are the most powerful odorants, and how well does the human sense of smell perform compared with that of a dog or a butterfly?

The sense of smell is highly complex, and such complexity discouraged scientists for a long time, leaving the world of smell in an atmosphere of mystery. Only recently, thanks to the new tools furnished by molecular biology and neuroscience, are we beginning to answer these questions, uncovering the hidden secrets of our sense of smell, and decoding the language used by most animals to communicate. In On the Scent, Paolo Pelosi, one of the leading figures in the development of the science of olfaction, recounts how the chemical alphabet behind smell has been pieced together over the past three decades. Drawing on anecdotes from his own scientific career, and celebrating the rich variety of smells from herbs to flowers to roast coffee and freshly baked bread, he weaves together an engaging and remarkable account of the science behind the most elusive of our senses.



PART ONE - Smells and Molecules
1: Molecules in the air
2: Smells and molecules
3: A walk among smells
4: The olfactory code

PART TWO - Messengers of sex and danger
5: Fatal attraction
6: The smell of dominance

PART THREE - Proteins and Smells
7: Odorants meet the proteins
8: A family of versatile macromolecules
9: From odorants to emotions

PART FOUR - At the edge of the imagination
10: Science or magic?
11: Digital olfaction


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Paolo Pelosi is currently Visiting Professor at the Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences (CAAS) in Beijing, China. His research work has been dedicated to the study of olfaction and includes the use of organic conducting polymers as sensors for an electronic nose, in a study performed in collaboration with Krishna Persaud at the University of Manchester, UK. He has authored around 150 scientific publications and several book chapters.

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