Turin, Luca 1953-

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Turin, Luca 1953-

PERSONAL:

Born 1953. Education: University of London, Ph.D.

ADDRESSES:

E-mail—[email protected]

CAREER:

Writer, biophysicist, educator, entrepreneur, and consultant. Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique, France, instructor; University College, London, England, lecturer in biophysics; Flexitral (a fragrance design company), chief technology officer, 2001—.

WRITINGS:

Parfums: Le guide, HermA, 1994.

The Secret of Scent: Adventures in Perfume and the Science of Smell, Ecco (New York, NY), 2006.

Author of column, "Duftnote," NZZ Folio.

SIDELIGHTS:

Luca Turin is a writer, biophysicist, and fragrance researcher who works in the perfume industry. An expert in the creation of new scents, Turin plies his trade at a company that specializes in creating new and unique fragrance molecules at the request of its clients. He is the developer of a controversial theory that odors are detected based on the frequencies of a scent molecule's vibration rather than through the more widespread "lock and key" theory, in which scent molecules insert themselves into receptor sites in olfactory organs.

In The Secret of Scent: Adventures in Perfume and the Science of Smell, Turin provides an inside look at "perfume research and development; a demanding course in the chemistry of fragrance; and the story behind the development of a scientific theory about how humans detect odors," noted a Kirkus Reviews critic. He applies his extensive technical expertise to explaining the creation of new scents, the making of synthetic scents, and the extraction of scents from their natural sources. He describes the perfume industry and the requirements for creating appealing new fragrances for discerning customers and the general public. He looks at well-known scents, such as vanilla and musk, and explores their chemical makeup as well as variations on those common fragrances. Turin notes that science still has not definitively answered the question of how scent molecules are recognized and processed by the human olfactory and nervous system, and he offers an overview of currently prevailing biophysical theories. He also outlines his own theories of olfaction and scent recognition, and explains how they influence his own work in the creation of new fragrances. Turin includes considerable detailed technical information on the chemistry of scents, with many explanatory diagrams and illustrations. The book also contains background information on the creation of well-known perfumes, such as Chanel No. 5 and Opium. Turin takes an almost poetic perspective on the making of fragrances, describing their complexity, their personal- ity, and the ways in which scent communicates. "Scientists who can poetically convey the worth of their research are rare individuals indeed," observed Barbara Jacobs in Booklist. New Statesman reviewer Veronica Horwell noted that Turin's multilevel "evocations of scents draw on anything and everything—music, taste, color, shape, sense of humor—and he apprehends chords of meaning in harmony with those very specific vibrations."

BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:

PERIODICALS

Booklist, October 15, 2006, Barbara Jacobs, review of The Secret of Scent: Adventures in Perfume and the Science of Smell, p. 13.

Bookseller, June 9, 2006, Sarah Drake, review of The Secret of Scent, p. 11.

Kirkus Reviews, September 1, 2006, review of The Secret of Scent, p. 894.

New Statesman, May 29, 2006, Vernonica Horwell, "The Nose Has It," review of The Secret of Scent, p. 53.

Science News, November 18, 2006, review of The Secret of Scent, p. 335.

ONLINE

Flexitral Web site,http://www.flexitral.com/ (March 28, 2007), biography of Luca Turin.