Monday, May 17, 2010

Luca Turin on the science of scent

By Robert C.

In the Ted Talk video, "The Science of Scent," the biophysicist Luca Turin explains how a scent is triggered and how that very scent reaches a person's nose. Luca Turin introduces this theory, and the relation, that different vibrations cause different smells according to the intensity of the vibration.

Turin begins by stating "Smell is an art," and how he loves the science of perfumery(smell). He continues to explain that vibration, or movement, work hand-in-hand with smell, saying that varying intensity of vibrations on an object, e.g. a piano key, cause a smell depending on the harshness of the piano key's movement. Furthermore, Turin says that vibrations may be mixed together, which also mixes odors, creating an endless amount of odor combinations. "If you have a philosophical bent of mind, it tells you that the nose, the ear and the eye are all vibrational senses," is a statement Mr. Turin says to explain his theory and connect it to other body parts to help his listeners understand. He illustrates many ideas to show how vibration is connected to smell, such as certain guitar cords triggering the smell of sulfur.

Although Turin does a brilliant job explaining his theory to a science oriented crowd, many viewers of this video could be easily confused. He explains his thoughts in their raw form, meaning he does not elaborate on what any of the specific, scientific terms mean. Humour is a tool often, and effectively, used by Turin throughout his speech. He is generally a calm, steady speaker, and obviously prepared for his talk, and he was very careful, and articulate, with whatever he said. However, sometimes his speed of talking was incremental; slow at the beginning of a subject, but as he dug deeper into the topic, he spoke faster and faster. In the early stages of his talk, he seemed nervous, not making eye contact with the crowd, but warmed up to the crowd and became a lot more confident as time moved by. Overall, Luca Turin was a strong talker, who was no doubt passionate and confident about his theory.

To conclude, this Ted Talk video was a good selection to showcase on the website, and was incredibly educational and interesting. Luca Turin was a great teacher on the subject of smell, as he is evidently infatuated with the said subject.

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