The Science of Smell

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The Science of Smell

  • Book Review


BOOK REVIEWS presented in the text can be readily appreciated by the informed layman without a complete comprehension of the mathematical treatment. The caliber of the theory and mathematics is unfortunately not reflected in its presentation, which is often brief and incomplete. This is a stimulating book and its chief value lies in its function as an introduction to theoretical biology and in the questions that it raises in the reader's mind. RICHARD L. HEPPNER THE SCIENCE OF SMELL. By R. H. Wright. New York, Basic Books, Inc., 1964. xii, 164 pp. $4.95. This book describes the present-day knowledge of olfaction by an historical and personal review of its developments. The title may be somewhat mis- leading since there is as yet no universally accepted explanation for the mechanism of olfactory perception nor is there agreement as to what property of the odorous molecule stimulates the olfactory receptors. Con- sequently, much of the latter half of the book deals with the two most widely held theories of olfactory perception. It is to the author's credit that he presents a fair, although abbreviated description of the "stereo- chemical" theory of olfactory perception. As might be expected, he presents his own "molecular vibration" theory in somewhat greater detail. Most serious readers will wish to refer to a recent publication of the New York Academy of Sciences (Ann. N.Y. Acad. Sci. 116, Art. 2) for further descriptions of these theories by Amoore on the one hand, and Wright on the other. The book is written in a style that is quite informal, compared to most descriptions of scientific progress. Most of the physics, mathematics, and organic chemistry equations are presented in abridged form and without any sort of proof. This makes the book more accessible to the non- scientist reading strictly for interest, but it detracts from its value to the neophyte student of the subject. A bibliography follows each chapter listing many of the important papers in the subject up to 1963. Interest in o

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