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  1. #1

    Default Emperor of Scent - Gimme a Break!

    I just finished reading this book and must say it was a big disappointment. I kind of half-heartedly expected a big expose on the inner workings of the perfume industry and how fragrances are created in the lab. What I got was a confusing science lesson in smell theory. And the question is why should I care if smell “vibrates”?

    First of all, Burr has no business writing about science. For one thing, he has no scientific background at all. Second thing, he seemed to forget that when writing about scientific theory, it’s usually good to stay objective and present both sides of view before choosing your side. He immediately buys into Turin’s vibration theory hook, line and stinker (sic). Methinks, he fell for the Turin’s charm and brains like an impressionable school girl on that Chunnel train. If another scientist came long with more charm and wit, I’m sure Burr would be jumping to his theory. Further, Burr’s explanation of Turin’s theory was dry, humorless, and very confusing to the lay person. I would frequently reread the scientific passages until finally gave up trying to understand it. The only nice thing I can say about Burr’s writing is that he has a good ear for conversation or at least he makes it up well.

    There are basically 2 stories here: a Turin fluff piece which does not belong here (do I care that Turin is a bad boyfriend and lives like a pig?) and his "search" for credibility regarding his theory. Of the latter, the question which never gets answered is what would constitute Turin proving his theory? At first, it seems being published in “Nature”. When that fails, the goal for credibility then becomes giving a speech to a bunch of “Smell” scientists in India. After finally “attaining” his goal, the book ends with Turin in a fragrance shop in India displaying his expert nose to all in smelling distance with Burr at his feet lapping it up like a hungry dog.

    In the end, Chandler comes off as a sycophantic little school boy and Turin comes across as a pompous ass who proved to a juvenile hack that smell vibrates. I’d rather read Turin’s fragrance reviews (in English, please!!!) than put up with anymore vibration theory. And Burr should go back to hack school.
    "I exist for myself, and for those to whom my unquenchable thirst for freedom gives everything, but also for everyone, since insofar as I am able to love - I love everyone. Of noble hearts, I am the noblest - and the most generous of those that yearn to give love in return. - I am a human being, I love death and I love life."

    Egon Schiele - Self-Potrait


    My classics: Dior Homme EdT, YSL Rive Gauche PH, Helmut Lang Cuiron, L'Occitane Neroli (vintage), Davidoff Zino, L'Occitane Eau des Baux

    http://www.basenotes.net/wardrobe/2976

  2. #2

    Default Re: Emperor of Scent - Gimme a Break!

    Maybe it helps if you don't read it expecting an expose? I quite enjoyed the book, and didn't find the science hard to understand at all.

  3. #3

    Default Re: Emperor of Scent - Gimme a Break!

    It's kinda difficult because once you read the book, it's hard to read Burr's reviews, because (to me) they sound like a regurgitation of the style Turin uses to describe smell. I like it, because it's kinda how I think about scent, too... But I can't help being put off by it as well. I found the book intriguing and honestly it opened my mind quite a bit about understanding the industry that supplies me with my legal addiction But I'll be totally honest, I went back and forth about it, and all of your complaints certainly crossed my mind at various points as I read.
    Last edited by nthny; 12th December 2007 at 10:32 PM.

  4. #4

    Default Re: Emperor of Scent - Gimme a Break!

    Burr includes an express disclaimer about the one-sided nature of the book and acknowledges his indulgence of Turin's theory, including the syncophantic treatment of Turin that results therefrom. He also explains his often contentious relationship with Turin during the writing of the book where he challenged, whether explicity or implicitly, either Turin's authority or conclusions, although that may be in the endpages of an edition you did not have.

    I thought it was a compelling read and a decent attempt at reducing the theory to terms a layman could understand.

    The expose you were anticipating will be contained in Burr's next book about the inner workings of the creation of a new scent by JC Ellena and the corporate birth of Sarah Jessica Parker's new scent.

  5. #5

    Default Re: Emperor of Scent - Gimme a Break!

    Quote Originally Posted by Circa1905 View Post
    Burr includes an express disclaimer about the one-sided nature of the book and acknowledges his indulgence of Turin's theory, including the syncophantic treatment of Turin that results therefrom. He also explains his often contentious relationship with Turin during the writing of the book where he challenged, whether explicity or implicitly, either Turin's authority or conclusions, although that may be in the endpages of an edition you did not have.

    I thought it was a compelling read and a decent attempt at reducing the theory to terms a layman could understand.
    +1

    I enjoyed the hell out of it. Now I'm just about finished with Turin's book, "The Secret of Scent". Yes, it's chock-full of science -- chemistry, in the main -- and parts require me to re-read the material; but, so what? These books are not action thrillers, or page-turners.

    The expose you were anticipating will be contained in Burr's next book about the inner workings of the creation of a new scent by JC Ellena and the corporate birth of Sarah Jessica Parker's new scent.
    I have an Advanced Reader's Copy of it ("The Perfect Scent") on order... ought to arrive by early next week. Stay tuned. Film at 11. Update: arrived in yesterday's mail... now it's next on my reading list.
    Last edited by JBHoren; 16th December 2007 at 04:08 PM.

  6. #6

    Default Re: Emperor of Scent - Gimme a Break!

    Quote Originally Posted by Circa1905 View Post
    Burr includes an express disclaimer about the one-sided nature of the book and acknowledges his indulgence of Turin's theory, including the syncophantic treatment of Turin that results therefrom. He also explains his often contentious relationship with Turin during the writing of the book where he challenged, whether explicity or implicitly, either Turin's authority or conclusions, although that may be in the endpages of an edition you did not have.
    Mine didn't have the disclaimer; it just had an interview section where Burr interviews himself and lists his 10 favorite frags of the moment (Clinique Happy??) which is another part of the book I was going to harp on. There's also a discussion guide in the back too! Oh vey!!
    "I exist for myself, and for those to whom my unquenchable thirst for freedom gives everything, but also for everyone, since insofar as I am able to love - I love everyone. Of noble hearts, I am the noblest - and the most generous of those that yearn to give love in return. - I am a human being, I love death and I love life."

    Egon Schiele - Self-Potrait


    My classics: Dior Homme EdT, YSL Rive Gauche PH, Helmut Lang Cuiron, L'Occitane Neroli (vintage), Davidoff Zino, L'Occitane Eau des Baux

    http://www.basenotes.net/wardrobe/2976

  7. #7

    Default Re: Emperor of Scent - Gimme a Break!

    Quote Originally Posted by manicboy View Post
    Mine didn't have the disclaimer; it just had an interview section where Burr interviews himself and lists his 10 favorite frags of the moment (Clinique Happy??) which is another part of the book I was going to harp on. There's also a discussion guide in the back too! Oh vey!!
    Yeah, that discussion guide is quite a laugh. I can imagine book clubbers, blindfolded, smelling things and describing their impressions.

    The disclaimer is actually about 3/4 through the book.

  8. #8

    Default Re: Emperor of Scent - Gimme a Break!

    Quote Originally Posted by Circa1905 View Post
    The expose you were anticipating will be contained in Burr's next book about the inner workings of the creation of a new scent by JC Ellena and the corporate birth of Sarah Jessica Parker's new scent.
    Burr is IMHO a pretty bad writer, his style draws attention to itself, which isn't good. There are plenty of fragrance reviewers on BN who can bouth outwrite and outthink him.

  9. #9

    Default Re: Emperor of Scent - Gimme a Break!

    Quote Originally Posted by Nitromusk View Post
    Burr is IMHO a pretty bad writer, his style draws attention to itself, which isn't good. There are plenty of fragrance reviewers on BN who can bouth outwrite and outthink him.
    Listen, I don't know CB from Adam (couldn't pick him out of a lineup), but I've got to disagree wholeheartedly with the statement above. First, the function of a writer's style is to draw attention to itself (or to deflect attention from itself, which is, in a way, drawing attention to itself--there are v-necked square-framed bespectacled grad students nationwide studying the theory behind all this). Perhaps you are objecting to the conversational style in what you expect should be a more sterile and journalistic book. If that's the case, then don't go anywhere near David Foster Wallace's essays, or Esquire magazine, for that matter.

    CB did something pretty damn remarkable in my book, which is to take a chance meeting with an interesting stranger, drill down, and downright occupy that man's lifespace until he got the story out of him. It is a journalistic feat. To 99.9% of the population, Turin's story would be, quite frankly, boring as sh*t. But the fact that CB was able to create a compelling tale out of it, much less sustain the tale for 400 some-odd pages, get it published and sell enough for the book to be issued as a trade paperback that you can find in the damn airport, for chrissakes, is a testament to the man's talent.

    Horses for courses, but that's my .02

    cheers,

    c.1905
    Last edited by Circa1905; 14th December 2007 at 01:46 AM.

  10. #10

    Default Re: Emperor of Scent - Gimme a Break!

    I'm not always impressed with Burr's fragrance reviews, though sometimes I am. Sometimes he misses the mark and sometimes he nails it.

    "Emperor of Scent", to me, was a fascinating book. Sure, many of us Basenoters only wanted the book to be chock full of stuff that we were interested in. But the book is what it is. There's a lot of technical talk in there-- and much of it went over my head the first time, and I found myself skipping around to the parts that were about fragrances-- though I did go back and reread everything. Still, I think Burr did an excellent job in writing this book. Turin's theories are of interest to me, and naturally of interest to anyone who wants to understand how olfaction works-- whether you agree with him or not. As a musician myself-- I've always found music and smell to be the most powerful stimuli. Music works on vibrations, could smell also work that way?

    I'm inclined to believe that it can and it does.

  11. #11

    Default Re: Emperor of Scent - Gimme a Break!

    I had a similar experience with Secret of Scent. What a joke to say the very least. I paid good money to hear one man's opinion based ramblings. There is no secret to be had in that book. The science is also sub-par with talk of chemistry that a student freshman could assimilate. Sorry to the fans but, I have yet to find a real book about perfume.

  12. #12
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    Default Re: Emperor of Scent - Gimme a Break!

    Allow me to simplify this. Everything is made up of atoms and really, particles even smaller than that. But we don't have to go into quantum physics. You may remember from your science class that atoms are constantly in motion (VIBRATING). Therefore the entire universe is vibrating. There are some elements which have greater ability to spread farther because they are not encumbered by boundaries. These include air, scent, music, moisture, thoughts, radiowaves, etc etc. You get the idea.

    I loved the book btw. Burr's reviews are what they are. If you don't like em, move on to what you do like. That's what life is about, finding the thoughts that you like even as they change, because life is constant change, nothing is static. As for Turin's theory, it's receiving more support all the time, in spite of massive political pressure to cover it up.
    Last edited by pluran; 14th December 2007 at 03:47 AM.

  13. #13

    Default Re: Emperor of Scent - Gimme a Break!

    How many of us here have a graduate degree in chemistry or the sciences? Turin has a Phd from a top biochemistry school and he has had papers accepted in good journals. Its the way of life in academic research ... groundbreaking theories at first receive severe opposition. I am not saying Turin's theory has been widely recognized in his research domain but in my opinion his vibration theory will seem less and less like science fiction as time progresses.
    -

  14. #14

    Default Re: Emperor of Scent - Gimme a Break!

    Anyone care to elaborate on his vibration theory? I don't have the time to read his book at the moment.

  15. #15

    Default Re: Emperor of Scent - Gimme a Break!

    I'll need to get sober before I write complete thoughts here, but all the same:

    1) Burr was an accomplished science writer before writing Emperor of Scent. (Cover of the Atlantic Monthly, for example, on the science behind what makes homosexuality. I know because I was at a lunch event when he tried to suck up to my then boss, a fantastic writer.)

    2) The subject of the the disclaimer Burr should offer about Emperor of Scent (what disclaimer, he's a writer and a writer telling a good story!) is covered by how hard he tried to get the experts in the field to tell him why Turin's theories are wrong. When I'm sober I'll look up the page number, but he made strenuous efforts to get experts to tell him how Turin was wrong, and, going on my inebriated recollection alone, he encountered a) experts who brushed him off, b) experts who said they hadn't taken the time to read or think about Turin's material despite the interest it was generated, and c) experts who told him to call other experts (biologists who said to call a physicist for example, and a physicist who said to call someone else). Burr made extra lenghty efforts to have a critique by the "powers" of Turin, but "the powers" ignored him and were dismissive of Turin. Shame on those "experts!" Learn this lesson, readers: a journalist wants to know what you think, that is a serious responsibility and also a serious license. As I read Burr, and I read him closely, he worked hard to have serious people refute Turin, but all of them were flakes, and did not do justice to themselves or the roles they had in their professional fields. When I'm sober I'll go look for the page numbers for reference. There are things I dislike about the book, but its journalism is first rate. The man, Chandler Burr, took us to a place we didn't know about, even if that was another person's mind and life practice, made us like it for all its many faults, and evaluated the thoughts and insights of that person as thoughts and insights. Burr sought and tried hard to include the critiques of Turin's visions by professionals in the field but they were jackasses and rejected the opportunity. The disclaimer that is appropriate to reference is about three quarters of the way through the book, where Burr says he was all ready to find the critique of Turin's work, but that none of the professionals would deign to examine it and his questions seriously. Instead they were dismissive and insulting of an insightful thought. That it was an insightful thought was a primafacie effort of the storytelling of the book.

    3) I disagree with Burr's thoughts on smells and I disagree with Turin's thoughts on smells. Welcome to life in the big city. I'm enriched by having the chance to read them. My thoughts are made better by responding to Burr's thoughts and Turin's thoughts. Hallelujah. We're all different and we all have different understandings of which rascal perfume constitutes good taste. Party on. Quote me a paragraph of Turin on some perfume and I'll tell you how wrong I think it is. (Furthermore, quote me a paragraph of Burr talking about how a scent is a red semiphore light in the rain, and I'll agree with you that the guy is laughing at us and any poor sucker reading such copy. Burr's NYT editor is the laughingstock of people who think about scent as an entree into the world we live in. I don't blame the writer, I blame the idiot who said, "yeah, I think that'll work.")

    More thoughts when the wine wears off and Pluran gives me the emails of the women in his avatars.

    Is Emperor of Scent a ticket to paradise? You know the answer. Is the science readable? You know the answer. For me the science wasn't the interesting part of the book, and I didn't want it to be. I couldn't wait for it to be husstled past so I could get to perfume history discussion. Such a problem presented to a writer offers challenges to be sure. What does one do to keep the readers interested in such widely disparate areas as perfume and the science of the nose's workings? The writer comes up with as many metaphors as possible, the writer makes one chaper about perfumes and the next one about the science of nostrils. And the next one about the nose again. And so on, integating a person's saga into the mix. Burr's book is a fantastic example of a journalist doing an excellent or phenomonal job with the material at hand. A very hard task to write such a book. You don't like it? You re-write it. Even when I'm sober I won't be able.

    I'll spell check this beast tomorrow. Emperor of Scent didn't change my life either, if that was the question. It's just a book to read and learn what we can from. The lesson from it is, though, when a writer comes asking for your thoughts/critique/opinion on something, take that seriously. The quote-scientists-unquote who Burr diligently approached, however, to their shame, disregarded the opportunity and disregarded their chance to have their say. To their shame is right.

    No disclaimer necessary. A well told story about getting the story is included in Burr's excellent book.
    --Chris
    That girl, that bottle, that mattress and me.

  16. #16

    Default Re: Emperor of Scent - Gimme a Break!

    Hi ZZtop, to answer your question, I do.... have a few degrees in science, chemistry being one of them. To refer to pluran, there is no need to describe fragrance by way of vibrational theories, really. Without getting technical, fragrances move by diffusion. The vibrations that you are trying to refer to is more like collisons. Atoms/molecules have rotaional spins and collide at a very high orders of magnitude and move by diffusion: from an area of high concentration to an area of low concentraion as some of you may remember. The rate of diffusion is just one factor in the sillage we all commonly talk about. If you sprayed a fragrance in one corner of your room, you will smell it at the other end of the room in a few seconds. That is diffusion. It was more highly concentrated at the point of spray and lower at the other end which is where it moved to. Referring to DustB, I tend to agree.

    Now turning back to ZZtop's gracious benevolance, having a higher education myself of comparable magnitude, I can tell you that the book is crap. I have conducted research on cancer and diabetes to name a few. I find his lack thoroghness and depth disturbing for a man with a Ph.D as you put it. This is the time and place to say it or I wouldn't otherwise do so but, I can see how a few terms and thoughts might be flashy to those of no real knowledge of chemistry but for those who have made it a discipline, it is a joke. It might convince the masses but not the real deal. Not only did the book prove to be a fruitless study, it was highly disorganized and not written of a Ph.D quality.
    Last edited by Scentologist; 14th December 2007 at 05:08 AM.

  17. #17

    Default Re: Emperor of Scent - Gimme a Break!

    Quote Originally Posted by Scentologist View Post
    Not only did the book prove to be a fruitless study, it was highly disorganized and not written of a Ph.D quality.
    The Emperor of Scent is by Burr, not Turin.

    This might be of interest:

    http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases...0204162541.htm
    -

  18. #18

    Default Re: Emperor of Scent - Gimme a Break!

    Quote Originally Posted by zztopp View Post
    The Emperor of Scent is by Burr, not Turin.

    This might be of interest:

    http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases...0204162541.htm
    Sorry, I am referring to the secret of scent. I have not read the emperor of scent so I cannot comment on that. From what people say, I don't think I would be interested in reading it. How a fragrance can be copied is by using proton NMR, infrared spectroscopy, mass spec, etc. It is also a good analytical way to determine how pure a synthetic or organic substance is in addition to calculating percent yield.

  19. #19

    Default Re: Emperor of Scent - Gimme a Break!

    The perfect scent-a year in the perfume industry by Chandler Burr, out in January
    Perfumes- the guide by Luca Turin out in April I thought that the Emperor of Scent was brilliant, as is the Secret of scent by Luca Turin. In which he expands his theory.

  20. #20

    Default Re: Emperor of Scent - Gimme a Break!

    Quote Originally Posted by Circa1905 View Post
    Listen, I don't know CB from Adam (couldn't pick him out of a lineup), but I've got to disagree wholeheartedly with the statement above. First, the function of a writer's style is to draw attention to itself (or to deflect attention from itself, which is, in a way, drawing attention to itself--there are v-necked square-framed bespectacled grad students nationwide studying the theory behind all this). Perhaps you are objecting to the conversational style in what you expect should be a more sterile and journalistic book. If that's the case, then don't go anywhere near David Foster Wallace's essays, or Esquire magazine, for that matter.
    There are plenty of journalistic writers like Malcom Gladwell or Seymour Hersh who could do CB's schtick much better than he can.

    A good example would be John Colapinto's article on Karl Lagerfeld.

    http://www.newyorker.com/reporting/2...urrentPage=all

    CB did something pretty damn remarkable in my book, which is to take a chance meeting with an interesting stranger, drill down, and downright occupy that man's lifespace until he got the story out of him. It is a journalistic feat. To 99.9% of the population, Turin's story would be, quite frankly, boring as sh*t. But the fact that CB was able to create a compelling tale out of it, much less sustain the tale for 400 some-odd pages, get it published and sell enough for the book to be issued as a trade paperback that you can find in the damn airport, for chrissakes, is a testament to the man's talent.
    You might find the book "The Black Swan" by Nicholas Nassim Taleb very interesting. ;-)
    --------------------------------------
    Quote Originally Posted by Scentologist View Post
    Hi ZZtop, to answer your question, I do.... have a few degrees in science, chemistry being one of them. To refer to pluran, there is no need to describe fragrance by way of vibrational theories, really. Without getting technical, fragrances move by diffusion. The vibrations that you are trying to refer to is more like collisons. Atoms/molecules have rotaional spins and collide at a very high orders of magnitude and move by diffusion: from an area of high concentration to an area of low concentraion as some of you may remember. The rate of diffusion is just one factor in the sillage we all commonly talk about. If you sprayed a fragrance in one corner of your room, you will smell it at the other end of the room in a few seconds. That is diffusion. It was more highly concentrated at the point of spray and lower at the other end which is where it moved to. Referring to DustB, I tend to agree.

    Now turning back to ZZtop's gracious benevolance, having a higher education myself of comparable magnitude, I can tell you that the book is crap. I have conducted research on cancer and diabetes to name a few. I find his lack thoroghness and depth disturbing for a man with a Ph.D as you put it. This is the time and place to say it or I wouldn't otherwise do so but, I can see how a few terms and thoughts might be flashy to those of no real knowledge of chemistry but for those who have made it a discipline, it is a joke. It might convince the masses but not the real deal. Not only did the book prove to be a fruitless study, it was highly disorganized and not written of a Ph.D quality.
    Zztop was making a blatant an appeal to authority. I.e Turin has a Ph. D in biochemistry and therefore knows what he's talking about. The two are not 100% related.

    Linus Pauling, who had two unshared nobel prizes, sent alot of people on a wild goose chase after coming up with his theory of "orthomolecular medicine" (With the orthomolecule being Vitamin C).

    If Turin's theory was as groundbreaking as he thinks it is, it would be reasonably easy to test it and thus dominate existing theories.

    As for smell perception, basicly humans were endowed by their creator with a palette of possible sensory neurons in the olfactory bulb, with each person having a subset of the total possible set (thus various anosmia's and differing sensory threshholds).

    Depending on how the scent molecules interact with the sensory neurons in the olfactory bulb, neural signals will be sent to the brain and then be interpreted resulting in a sensory impression and concious/unconcious associations.

    Various things can gum up this process, such as olfactory fatigue, anosmia's, masking/synergistic effects, threshold effects among others. Training can help people better convert the sensory impression into useful concious associations.
    Last edited by Nitromusk; 15th December 2007 at 04:57 AM. Reason: Automerged Doublepost

  21. #21

    Default Re: Emperor of Scent - Gimme a Break!

    I agree with you nitromusk. I might add that cell surface markers and receptor sites are common knowledge as is compound classification. So, old news I'm afraid. Thats what I was getting at. The chemists that actually work in the perfume industry are light years ahead of Turin. Turin is dabbling and trying to discover the art and role of chemistry in perfume on his own and how the science of perfume behaves in a biosystem. Quite frankly, I am not impressed with what little he has discovered to date.

  22. #22

    Default Re: Emperor of Scent - Gimme a Break!

    Well, a major theme of Burr's book was this classical American choreography - a brilliant, unconventional thinker at war with encrusted institutions. Mr. smith goes to Wahington in the science world. I can't judge the quality of the science, but I know enough science history to tell me that unconventional thinking that challenges established paradigms (read: interests and reputations) is frequently swept under the carpet, demonized, or laughed at. Thomas Kuhn's theory of paradigm shifts is still convincing in parts.

    We live in an age of hyperspecialization and interdisciplinarity is very hard to achieve - you take one step beyond your highly specialized field and you're an amateur. I think the book made quite clear that Turin was not a "good" scientist and teacher by the norm. In fact I found his nonchalant attitude on teaching and pubishing incredible and I would have fired him on the spot. Still people like that can make a meaningful contribution simply by thinking outside the box. I didn't find the way that chemists rejected his biology and biologists rejected his chemistry too unrealistic. It certainly often works that way in the humanities. Anyway, from the success of Flexitral it seems that even if his theory is shaky, it's producing practical results. As to Burr, I don't particularly like his style, but found the book enjoyable nonetheless.
    Btw. I have a German language book on perfume by Günther Ohloff, the former head of research at Firmenich . An excellent chemist, no doubt, but a gruesome writer. Maybe he and Turin should team up
    Last edited by the_good_life; 15th December 2007 at 07:09 PM. Reason: additions
    My Wardrobe
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  23. #23

    Default Re: Emperor of Scent - Gimme a Break!

    Quote Originally Posted by Scentologist View Post
    I agree with you nitromusk. I might add that cell surface markers and receptor sites are common knowledge as is compound classification. So, old news I'm afraid. Thats what I was getting at. The chemists that actually work in the perfume industry are light years ahead of Turin. Turin is dabbling and trying to discover the art and role of chemistry in perfume on his own and how the science of perfume behaves in a biosystem. Quite frankly, I am not impressed with what little he has discovered to date.
    How the perfume behaves in a biosystem is still a bit too complex to be determined except empirically. I.e you have to smell it. OTH understanding how sweetness works, has allowed the "blind" design of insanely sweet chemicals (guanadine sweeteners).

    The more interesting angle is understanding how perfumery has been limited by physics. I.e alot of the classic perfume "structures" i.e (citrus --> Floral/Herbal --> Woods/Musk/Resins) are function of chemistry, and not aesthetic design choices.

    This is what made ozonic/marine frags so interesting as they broke out from traditional fragrance arrangements.
    Last edited by Nitromusk; 15th December 2007 at 09:57 PM. Reason: add "blind" design

  24. #24

    Default Re: Emperor of Scent - Gimme a Break!

    Chemists have tendency to understand everything through chemistry and explain by what they know the things they do not know.
    I delight in their company because they explain to me the marvelous way the life machine is using chemistry to fulfill its purpose.
    The shape perception of odors is but an other theory. A generally accepted theory that has quite a few holes.
    We should not forget that the chemical sense is the first ever used by living organisms to perceive the outside of themselves.
    The use of shape receptors for all the inner regulations inside the organism is understandable because it is based on specific known molecules fabricated by the organism itself (hormons), but it would be absolutely inadequate to perceive the nature of the infinity of molecules outside the organism.
    And this perception is essential to the survival of the life systems.
    The vibration theory is older than Luca Turin but he brought contribution to it's development.
    Molecules do not only vibrate, explained to me my chemist friend (their vibration is not as we can imagine but it is rather a sequence of vibrations), they also rotate (their rotation is not as we can imagine but it is rather a sequence of rotations).
    Poetically it gave me the image of these bird like flying molecules (not all molecules do fly), that are dancing (rotating) and singing (vibrating).
    The olfactory neurons (the only nerves in the body to auto regenerate) may well be perceiving this "ballet chanté".
    As mentioned in a precedent post, it seems that the applications of Luca's research are benefiting rather well flexitral, seeing the new patents they register.
    One would say that it is not a very scientific attitude to just make commercial applications of a discovery before it is accepted by the scientific body.
    Probably Luca Turin is not a real scientist but a real pirate.

    AbdusSalaam Attar
    www.profumo.it
    http://naturalperfume.blogspot.com
    Last edited by Profumo; 16th December 2007 at 04:38 PM.

  25. #25

    Default Re: Emperor of Scent - Gimme a Break!

    Quote Originally Posted by Profumo View Post
    One would say that it is not a very scientific attitude to just make commercial applications of a discovery before it is accepted by the scientific body.
    Why not?

    Quote Originally Posted by Profumo View Post
    Probably Luca Turin is not a real scientist but a real pirate.
    I'm sorry, but that is completely absurd. A pirate?

  26. #26

    Default Re: Emperor of Scent - Gimme a Break!

    Sorry, sometimes the post without quote can be difficult to understand.
    As for the first assertion it has been reproached to him in this thread that the vibrational theory is invalid, unrecognized by the scientific body and unworthy of a PHD.
    Quote Originally Posted by Scentologist View Post
    I agree with you nitromusk. I might add that cell surface markers and receptor sites are common knowledge as is compound classification. So, old news I'm afraid. Thats what I was getting at. The chemists that actually work in the perfume industry are light years ahead of Turin. Turin is dabbling and trying to discover the art and role of chemistry in perfume on his own and how the science of perfume behaves in a biosystem. Quite frankly, I am not impressed with what little he has discovered to date.
    Quote Originally Posted by Scentologist View Post
    I find his lack thoroughness and depth disturbing for a man with a Ph.D as you put it. This is the time and place to say it or I wouldn't otherwise do so but, I can see how a few terms and thoughts might be flashy to those of no real knowledge of chemistry but for those who have made it a discipline, it is a joke. It might convince the masses but not the real deal. Not only did the book prove to be a fruitless study, it was highly disorganized and not written of a Ph.D quality.
    I point to the fact that Luca Turin does not care much for the opinion of the official science (his is called a rogue theory), but instead of proving it as scientists like to have things proved (fully explained), he rather put it at work immediately in the real world (commercial).
    He then bypasses the usual roadmap of scientific establishment, an attitude which is not “scientifically correct”. For them a theory should just be proved before working.
    This attitude, I call a “pirate” attitude, being a pirate myself I mean it as a compliment.
    Dont you remember the late thread about a "pirate scent"? The psichology of the pirate is not to care much for the rules. Must be our french "prise de la bastille" education, or the example of Monfreid and Antonin Arthaud.
    AbdusSalaam Attar
    www.profumo.it
    http://naturalperfume.blogspot.com
    Last edited by Profumo; 16th December 2007 at 10:25 AM.

  27. #27

    Default Re: Emperor of Scent - Gimme a Break!

    Quote Originally Posted by Profumo View Post
    Sorry, sometimes the post without quote can be difficult to understand.
    As for the first assertion it has been reproached to him in this thread that the vibrational theory is invalid, unrecognized by the scientific body and unworthy of a PHD.
    You need to reread my post. I did not claim that his vibrational theory was invalid, unrecognized, etc. How can a theory be worthy of a Ph.D??? That one baffles me. To the point, I stated that his theory was not needed i.e., not necessary. What he is trying to describe has already been done in so many ways and a far better job has been done of it, mind you. For a notion to even become a scientific theory, alot has to take place. Has he done any grunt work in the lab personally? Where is his data? In short, there isn't any. That is because he has an idea, he reads books and talks with people already an authority on the subject and rehashes the tale in a different light.

    If you find his writings intellectually fruitful, have at it. What what I read in the secret of scent before I just has to stop the nonsense, he is trying to convey how and why humans interpret a certain chemical compound as, for example, "lemon". Is this really at all groundbreaking? The reason I give such scrutiny is because if I can go into much greater detail and do a better job and, giving the fact that there are people out there much smarter on the subject that I, it just seems that someone who is a self-proclaimed expert could come up with something much better. Many of his opinions are just that; opinions.

  28. #28

    Default Re: Emperor of Scent - Gimme a Break!

    Scentologist, sorry to have misunderstood you.
    AbdesSalaam Attar

  29. #29

    Default Re: Emperor of Scent - Gimme a Break!

    No problem, my appologies as well. There is nothing wrong with reinventing ideals. Look at all the movies out in the market today. Most are spinoffs of some plot or twist already devised. The problem I have with "sceret of scent" is this:

    1. To other scientists, the book seems largely incomplete and fruitless.

    2. To the laymen, the book has no foundational work to build the reader up to understand some of his gibberish. There is no methodical orderliness in which to present topics that the common person might understand better.

    I don't quite understand who his audience is supposed to be. If his audience is the lay person, he needs to address his topics with certain explanations to help the reader understand. If his audience is the scientist, he needs to not write the book until more work has been done. My guess would be that his audience was intended to be perfume enthusiasts in which case the book should have been written with the lay person in mind. These however, are just my opinions.

  30. #30

    Default Re: Emperor of Scent - Gimme a Break!

    Quote Originally Posted by Scentologist View Post
    I don't quite understand who his audience is supposed to be. If his audience is the lay person, he needs to address his topics with certain explanations to help the reader understand. If his audience is the scientist, he needs to not write the book until more work has been done. My guess would be that his audience was intended to be perfume enthusiasts in which case the book should have been written with the lay person in mind. These however, are just my opinions.
    Though Burr is hated beyond belief on these boards - maybe I don't feel the same because I haven't read his reviews - I really must say that The Emperor Of Scent made the theory a lot more understandable to a non-chemist, and also more interesting when you can follow the story piece by piece rather than in one large chunk. I'd certainly recommend it more than The Secret Of Scent.

  31. #31

    Default Re: Emperor of Scent - Gimme a Break!

    Having read the new Burr Book, The Perfect Scent for an interview with Chandler for Sniffapalooza Magazine, I will tell you that The Perfect Scent will be the expose book you were hoping for.

    As for The Emperor of Scent, It doesnt really matter if he's a scientist or not. He most certainly does have business writing about it as long as all his facts are correct and researched. No author would write a book without doing the research. The Emperor of Scent was fascinating to me, but I have a science background.

    Did the book [emperor] make you think about a possible other theory of smell? Or did it perhaps introduce you to the science of smell and both of the theories for the first time? Well then, mission accomplished. This book never promised to be a book about the perfume industry. Reading the back cover will tell you as much. So Im not quite sure what you thought you were getting yourself into. The book is about a man. Luca Turin.
    Last edited by MarkDavid; 17th December 2007 at 02:24 PM.
    "To be irreplaceable, one must always be different!" - Coco Chanel

    visit: WWW.SNIFFAPALOOZAMAGAZINE.COM

  32. #32

    Default Re: Emperor of Scent - Gimme a Break!

    Quote Originally Posted by MarkDavid View Post
    The book is about a man. Luca Turin.
    Problem is why should I care about Luca Turin? Yes, he does appear to have a extraordinary nose for smell and can describe smell very accurately and intelligently. But Burr fails to impress upon me as to why I should care about Turin's scientific theory.
    "I exist for myself, and for those to whom my unquenchable thirst for freedom gives everything, but also for everyone, since insofar as I am able to love - I love everyone. Of noble hearts, I am the noblest - and the most generous of those that yearn to give love in return. - I am a human being, I love death and I love life."

    Egon Schiele - Self-Potrait


    My classics: Dior Homme EdT, YSL Rive Gauche PH, Helmut Lang Cuiron, L'Occitane Neroli (vintage), Davidoff Zino, L'Occitane Eau des Baux

    http://www.basenotes.net/wardrobe/2976

  33. #33

    Default Re: Emperor of Scent - Gimme a Break!

    Quote Originally Posted by manicboy View Post
    Problem is why should I care about Luca Turin? Yes, he does appear to have a extraordinary nose for smell and can describe smell very accurately and intelligently. But Burr fails to impress upon me as to why I should care about Turin's scientific theory.
    Because the theory changes how we think about the sense of smell? To me the most important aspect of the book wasn't Turin's theory so much as the revelation as to how "shape" theory has nothing to stand on. I remember being taught the shape theory as a scientific "truth", and I'm not even remotely connected to the sciences.
    If it's not a subject that interests you... why did you bother reading the book? It's not like it claimed to be about anything else.

  34. #34

    Default Re: Emperor of Scent - Gimme a Break!

    I look at the book as a mere story. A nice story to read. An interesting one. Do I count on the book to impress on me a new care, a new concern, a new moral force for something? I don't. I read of an interesting character with an interesting history doing interesting things in an interesting subculture. (Subculture for a lack of a better word.) Along the journey I got a lot out of fragrance discussion, which was the richest element in the book for me. I didn't read it to become a scientist, a specialist, or to have my thinking and caring changed. I recently picked up a book on the history of the city of Alexandria, Egypt. I'm reading it to learn something about something I knew nothing about. Not to have my life and moral sense changed. The writer doesn't need to to persuade me that I ought to care more about Alexandria than I do for satisfaction of my reader's curiosity. It sounds like Manicboy's curiosity was not furthered by the science writing in Burr's book. Well, neither was mine, but I read and enjoyed the story and the trek through science that was a part of the story.
    --Chris
    That girl, that bottle, that mattress and me.

  35. #35

    Default Re: Emperor of Scent - Gimme a Break!

    To me the most important aspect of the book wasn't Turin's theory so much as the revelation as to how "shape" theory has nothing to stand on. I remember being taught the shape theory as a scientific "truth", and I'm not even remotely connected to the sciences.
    There is no "shape theory"; the term is used but it is an extreme oversimplification. The currently accepted theory, the one that people sometimes refer to as the "shape theory" would be better called the "odorant receptor binding theory" The "odorant receptor binding theory" has many legs to stand on; there is little chance that it is incorrect. Axel and Buck were awarded the 2004 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for "their discovery of odorant receptors ...".
    http://nobelprize.org/nobel_prizes/m...004/press.html

    Turin's tunneling electron spectroscope theory of odor was interesting but has no legs to stand on.
    Last edited by dcampen; 17th December 2007 at 06:05 PM.
    All these moments will be lost in time, like tears in rain.

  36. #36

    Default Re: Emperor of Scent - Gimme a Break!

    Quote Originally Posted by manicboy View Post
    I just finished reading this book and must say it was a big disappointment. I kind of half-heartedly expected a big expose on the inner workings of the perfume industry and how fragrances are created in the lab. What I got was a confusing science lesson in smell theory. And the question is why should I care if smell “vibrates”? I’d rather read Turin’s fragrance reviews (in English, please!!!) than put up with anymore vibration theory.
    By the end of the book, those vibration theory pleas certainly became tedious.

  37. #37

    Default Re: Emperor of Scent - Gimme a Break!

    Quote Originally Posted by dcampen View Post
    There is no "shape theory"; the term is used but it is an extreme oversimplification. The currently accepted theory, the one that people sometimes refer to as the "shape theory" would be better called the "odorant receptor binding theory" The "odorant receptor binding theory" has many legs to stand on; there is little chance that it is incorrect. Axel and Buck were awarded the 2004 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for "their discovery of odorant receptors ...".
    http://nobelprize.org/nobel_prizes/m...004/press.html
    Well, I'm willing to hear both sides: are there any books you recommend that address some of the issues raised in The Emperor Of Scent?
    Last edited by Sugandaraja; 17th December 2007 at 06:25 PM.

  38. #38

    Default Re: Emperor of Scent - Gimme a Break!

    What issues? As DustB says: "... look at the book as a mere story". Don't take it seriously.
    All these moments will be lost in time, like tears in rain.

  39. #39

    Default Re: Emperor of Scent - Gimme a Break!

    Quote Originally Posted by dcampen View Post
    What issues? As DustB says: "... look at the book as a mere story". Don't take it seriously.
    Okay, then if you think what he said is complete BS, could you please recommend a book on how scent does work.

  40. #40

    Default Re: Emperor of Scent - Gimme a Break!

    I didn't mean to suggest Burr's work of non-fiction was fiction. I know I'm not aware of other general readership books about how the nose works, but I imagine there are probably New York Times clips, and other newspaper or feature stories written about the Nobel prize winners that Dcampen mentions. Those writings probably give some description of who what why where and how qualities of the scent theory for which the prize was given.

    I'd search but I'm a lazy person. I'd start there though.
    Best,
    --Chris
    That girl, that bottle, that mattress and me.

  41. #41

    Default Re: Emperor of Scent - Gimme a Break!

    Quote Originally Posted by DustB View Post
    I didn't mean to suggest Burr's work of non-fiction was fiction. I know I'm not aware of other general readership books about how the nose works, but I imagine there are probably New York Times clips, and other newspaper or feature stories written about the Nobel prize winners that Dcampen mentions. Those writings probably give some description of who what why where and how qualities of the scent theory for which the prize was given.
    Thank you, but I'd rather have to wade through too much science rather than too little, if you see what I mean.
    I'll be honest; Luca Turin's theory had me fairly convinced, especially with that example of a newly synthesized chemical mentioned near the end of the book. However, if it's all a lie, I'd really like to know the truth, and the more I learn the better equipped I am at deciding for myself.

  42. #42

    Default Re: Emperor of Scent - Gimme a Break!

    I don't know of any book.

    For an overview you could read the Nobel Prize press release:
    http://nobelprize.org/nobel_prizes/m...004/press.html
    or the Presentation Speech:
    http://nobelprize.org/nobel_prizes/m...on-speech.html

    Or you could read the scientific paper referenced in the Nobel press release:
    Buck, L. and Axel, R. (1991) Cell, vol. 65, 175-187.
    All these moments will be lost in time, like tears in rain.

  43. #43

    Default Re: Emperor of Scent - Gimme a Break!

    Quote Originally Posted by Galamb_Borong View Post
    Thank you, but I'd rather have to wade through too much science rather than too little, if you see what I mean.
    I'll be honest; Luca Turin's theory had me fairly convinced, especially with that example of a newly synthesized chemical mentioned near the end of the book. However, if it's all a lie, I'd really like to know the truth, and the more I learn the better equipped I am at deciding for myself.
    Right you are, GB, right you are!

    Wish I could help.
    Very best luck,
    --Chris
    That girl, that bottle, that mattress and me.

  44. #44

    Default Re: Emperor of Scent - Gimme a Break!

    Quote Originally Posted by dcampen View Post
    There is no "shape theory"; the term is used but it is an extreme oversimplification. The currently accepted theory, the one that people sometimes refer to as the "shape theory" would be better called the "odorant receptor binding theory" The "odorant receptor binding theory" has many legs to stand on; there is little chance that it is incorrect. Axel and Buck were awarded the 2004 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for "their discovery of odorant receptors ...".
    http://nobelprize.org/nobel_prizes/m...004/press.html

    Turin's tunneling electron spectroscope theory of odor was interesting but has no legs to stand on.
    From the link you gave:
    "All the odorant receptors are related proteins but differ in certain details, explaining why they are triggered by different odorous molecules. Each receptor consists of a chain of amino acids that is anchored into the cell membrane and traverses it seven times. The chain creates a binding pocket where the odorant can attach. When that happens, the shape of the receptor protein is altered, leading to G protein activation."

    This sounds like a variant of shape theory to me ?! Can someone explain in layman's terms how Axel/Buck explain, what according to EoS was Turin's main contention - that "shape" theory can't explain why identically structured molecules (but with different "vibrations") smell differently? In other words, if Turin is wrong, what really is the distinguishing quality that makes molecule x bind to receptor x1 instead of y1 in the first place?
    My Wardrobe
    II est de forts parfums pour qui toute matière/Est poreuse. On dirait qu'ils pénètrent le verre.

  45. #45

    Default Re: Emperor of Scent - Gimme a Break!

    This sounds like a variant of shape theory to me ?! Can someone explain in layman's terms how Axel/Buck explain, what according to EoS was Turin's main contention - that "shape" theory can't explain why identically structured molecules (but with different "vibrations") smell differently? In other words, if Turin is wrong, what really is the distinguishing quality that makes molecule x bind to receptor x1 instead of y1 in the first place?
    Yes, the theory for which Axel and Buck received the Nobel prize is what you are referring to as "shape theory". A better term for Axel&Buck's theory would be the "receptor binding theory".

    According to the Axel/Buck theory there are thousands of different odorant receptors. For each specific receptor only certain substances will bind to this receptor and elicite a response. Perception of odor then depends on which specific receptors a substance binds to.

    In the Turin theory there is only a single odor receptor type. Perception of odor then depends on each odorant somehow eliciting a different response from this single receptor type via electron tunneling spectroscopy.
    Last edited by dcampen; 17th December 2007 at 07:10 PM.
    All these moments will be lost in time, like tears in rain.

  46. #46

    Default Re: Emperor of Scent - Gimme a Break!

    Quote Originally Posted by dcampen View Post
    I don't know of any book.
    Perhaps that is part of the problem. Whatever can be said about Luca Turin, he certainly found an audience.

    Quote Originally Posted by dcampen View Post
    For an overview you could read the Nobel Prize press release:
    http://nobelprize.org/nobel_prizes/m...004/press.html
    or the Presentation Speech:
    http://nobelprize.org/nobel_prizes/m...on-speech.html

    Or you could read the scientific paper referenced in the Nobel press release:
    Buck, L. and Axel, R. (1991) Cell, vol. 65, 175-187.
    Thank you. However I must admit that -

    Quote Originally Posted by the_good_life View Post
    From the link you gave:
    "All the odorant receptors are related proteins but differ in certain details, explaining why they are triggered by different odorous molecules. Each receptor consists of a chain of amino acids that is anchored into the cell membrane and traverses it seven times. The chain creates a binding pocket where the odorant can attach. When that happens, the shape of the receptor protein is altered, leading to G protein activation."

    This sounds like a variant of shape theory to me ?! Can someone explain in layman's terms how Axel/Buck explain, what according to EoS was Turin's main contention - that "shape" theory can't explain why identically structured molecules (but with different "vibrations") smell differently? In other words, if Turin is wrong, what really is the distinguishing quality that makes molecule x bind to receptor x1 instead of y1 in the first place?
    - sums up my feelings too. That's the big question I'm left with, and those articles didn't answer it.
    --------------------------------------
    Quote Originally Posted by dcampen View Post
    According to the Axel/Buck theory there are thousands of different odorant receptors. For each specific receptor only certain substances will bind to this receptor and elicite a response. Perception of odor then depends on which specific receptors a substance binds to.
    That doesn't really solve the identical molecule problem as it relates to receptor binding theory.
    Last edited by Sugandaraja; 17th December 2007 at 07:14 PM. Reason: Automerged Doublepost

  47. #47

    Default Re: Emperor of Scent - Gimme a Break!

    - sums up my feelings too. That's the big question I'm left with, and those articles didn't answer it.
    Your question is that you don't understand how receptor binding works?

    You could read the abstract here:
    http://www3.interscience.wiley.com/c...TRY=1&SRETRY=0
    Last edited by dcampen; 17th December 2007 at 07:19 PM.
    All these moments will be lost in time, like tears in rain.

  48. #48

    Default Re: Emperor of Scent - Gimme a Break!

    Sorry, that link doesn't seem to be working for me.

    Quote Originally Posted by dcampen View Post
    Your question is that you don't understand how receptor binding works?
    No, my question is how can a receptor tell two structurally identical molecules apart?

  49. #49

    Default Re: Emperor of Scent - Gimme a Break!

    No, my question is how can a receptor tell two structurally identical molecules apart?
    A substance binds to a receptor via Van der Waals forces. Different molecules even with similar structure but a different arrangement of atoms will have different binding potentials. It is just like protein folding.
    All these moments will be lost in time, like tears in rain.

  50. #50

    Default Re: Emperor of Scent - Gimme a Break!

    Quote Originally Posted by dcampen View Post
    A substance binds to a receptor via Van der Waals forces. Different molecules even with similar structure but a different arrangement of atoms will have different binding potentials. It is just like protein folding.
    Thank you. That was closer to what I was looking for.

  51. #51

    Default Re: Emperor of Scent - Gimme a Break!

    Quote Originally Posted by Galamb_Borong View Post
    Thank you. That was closer to what I was looking for.
    Me too
    My Wardrobe
    II est de forts parfums pour qui toute matière/Est poreuse. On dirait qu'ils pénètrent le verre.

  52. #52

    Default Re: Emperor of Scent - Gimme a Break!

    Van dar waals is an attraction between non-polar molecules. In van dar waals as you know, there is an attraction created by dipole moments. I am not so sure that van dar waals is the way to describe the interaction between receptor sites and the molecules. Do non-covalent interactions play a role? Do signal transducers play a role? We all know that receptor sites are highly specific; think of hand in glove analogy or key in lock. Non-covalent binding interactions play an important role in Nature. Proteins rely on hydrogen bonding for their secondary and tertiary structure, the self-assembly of enzyme clusters and the molecular recognition of hormones and synthetics at receptor binding sites come to mind. In any case, proteins are negatively charged so the question raises in regard to hydrogen bonding. Just something for you to think about (I am secretly spawning a debate, hehehehe).

  53. #53

    Default Re: Emperor of Scent - Gimme a Break!

    Anything vibrating gets my vote, .... even scent molecules.

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