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Sense of Smell Tied To Quantum Physics? 169

SpaceAdmiral writes "A controversial theory that proposes that our sense of smell is based not on the shape of the molecules that enter our nose but on their vibrations was given a boost recently when University College London researchers determined that the quantum physics involved makes sense. The theory, proposed in the mid-1990s by biophysicist Luca Turin, suggests that electron tunneling initiates the smell signal being sent to the brain. It could explain why similarly shaped molecules can have very different smells, and molecules with very different structures can smell similar." Turin has now formed a company to design odorants using his theory, and claims an advantage over the competition of two orders of magnitude in rate of discovery. The article concludes, "At the very least, he is putting his money where his nose is."

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