Saturday, April 29, 2023

Scent Sculptor At Work (# 1 of 2)

Environmental & Science Education, STEM, Nature of Science

Ed Hessler

What exactly is it that you do if your profession is described as "sculptor of scents?"  Michael Moisseeff began this new profession after serving as a sensory analyst at the National Polytechnic Institute of Toulouse, France. Toulouse is the central city in one of France's 22 metropolitan councils.

In this feature of Where I Work (Nature Briefing) you can see a picture of him in his home laboratory - one filled, it appears with carefully labeled and arranged chemicals and bottles... neat and orderly. You will notice one safety feature, a fire extinguisher at the ready on a wall. Perhaps it is my imagination but it speaks to me of a man who would easily say and mean it, "I enjoy this work and coming here each day."

Nic Fleming is the reporter and notes that Moisseeff described his work as the recreation of "smells using an alembic -- or distillation apparatus -- to extract substances, a rotary evaporator to remove solvents, very precise measuring scales for the chemicals and an archive of 3000-4000 reference odors. ...Some are essential oils and other natural extracts; others I've made from scratch by extracting them from plants and other natural sources."

Fleming describes some of the institutions, people for whom he has created odors and the museum he has created at his home, the Explorarome. There you can "nose up" and try your ability at guessing scents. I like his final comment. "There are no wrong answers -- our relationship with smell is unique and personal."

I wonder what a dog would make of this nose lovers delight?

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