Tuesday, December 12, 2006
In a much stranger (and also more interesting) but of science, physicists have paved the way for a highly controversial theory of olfaction to be more seriously investigated. A ULC physicist examined Luca Turin's hypothesis that smell is not triggered by the shape of airborne molecules, but by their molecular vibrations, and he found that this was, mathematically, plausible.
The idea is that the shape theory doesn't really fit all that well with how smell works. Very similar molecules can smell very different and similar ones smell similar - some animals can even smell the difference between isotopes! The vibration concept, while far from proven or even evidenced so far, is intriguing and could really shake up our perception of how our senses work if it pans out.