The following TED video is a gem! I had read about a theory of smell awhile ago dealing with the quantum nature of vibration and smell. It was obvious a mass media article and neglected a large number of details. In this video Luca Turin manages to ‘flech out’ the skeleton of the original article [he does not mention it]

There are a number of great teaching/learning moments in the video:
1:25 – we all smell the same thing
1:45 – chemistry of smell: which atoms are responsible [carbon, oxygen, sulfur, hydrogen, nitrogen]
2:20 – chemistry of a hexene-1-ol: great for higher level high school chem: naming, shape, cis/trans
3:30 – contrasting theories – nature of science
4:00 – shape causing conformational changes in proteins…[possibly wrong for smells]
5:00 – what scientists do
5:15 – Luca refer to theories saving work: really this is another way of stating a good theory allows good predictions to be made
5:50 – difference between hexene-1-ol and hexene-1-thiol why oxygen causes different smell than sulfur
6:45 – vibrations within molecule causes differences in smells
7:40 – nature of science: theories require evidence to support them [as well should have predictive power] – boranes!
10:00 – nanoscale spectroscope: tunneling….is he discussing energy levels? Is the carrier molecule partaking in a reaction to carry the electron?
13:00 coumarin: carcinogenic [he doesn’t answer if the new coumarin smell is carcinogenic or not!]

Watch the video and enjoy!

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