How We Sense Scents
Christophe Laudamiel is a fine-fragrance perfumer. He has created scents for Abercrombie & Fitch, Frederic Fekkai, Cath Kidston, The Estee Lauder Companies, Ralph Lauren Fragrances, Harvey Nichols, Slatkin & Co. He is co-author of Polo Blue for Men, Ralph Lauren 2002, which received in New York City the 2003 FIFI Award for Fragrance Star of the Year as well as the Perfumers’ Choice Award. Laudamiel received his Perfumer-Creator Degree from Procter & Gamble in 1997, and was later promoted to Senior Perfumer. He holds an M.A. in chemistry, and served as a teaching assistant at Harvard University and a teaching fellow at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He is a unique inventor on several patents citing new molecules and new fragrance diffusion techniques. He is also member of the American Society of Perfumers, the French Perfumers’ Society, the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the World Wildlife Fund and the French League for Bird Protection.
Question: When you smell a perfume, what are you actually smelling?
Christophe Laudamiel: So when you smell a scent, whether it's your coffee smell... I mean, your coffee in the morning, yeah? Or a strawberry to a perfume from... that you would apply on your skin, a fine fragrance, you smell many, many, many molecules. So we're talking a hundred, two hundred, hundreds of molecules. And now it does not mean that the brain registers all these different molecules and it does not mean even that the best nose in the world sees hundreds of molecules and can write them on a piece of paper in one go.
The way it's processed, it's processed like patches, like facets. And even the best experts can smell only five to eight facets at a given time. But for the brain to register a facet, you have to have at least several components for each facet which together are going to give this signature that then you will recognize as coffee. But you won't be able to recognize the different things that you would see in coffee. Some of them, if you take them one-by-one, those facets... one is going to smell like a raw potato another one is going to smell like smoke, another one like toasted bread, another one like earth, and et cetera. But you don't really see all that. You will register it as coffee.
And in a complex perfume it's the same. You will register it as floral and you won't see the 20 molecules that were needed to recreate that floral boost in the fragrance. So it's true that when we create we can be playing with a lot of different ingredients but as I say it doesn't mean that when you smell, you analyze and see every single ingredient one-by-one. Maybe there is one, two, or three ingredients that are very important for the signature of the fragrance by themselves and you might recognize all of a sudden patchouli or mandarin
So, when we create a perfume whether it's a simple order or a complex perfume, it is true that we use many different molecules and many different naturals. Naturals are simply a complex mixture of different molecules that you find directly in nature. And a fragrance formula could have between 10, 20, to 80, 100 different of those ingredients. Now, when you smell that fragrance you are not going to see, even as the best expert, these 100 ingredients.
So it is like a Dalmatian dog, you don’t look at it as being a listing of 100 dots; you see it at the end just as a dog. And you can see how if you have this dog, on the black and white picture, you can remove a few dots from the dog, you will still see the dog and then at one point when you remove two or three dots, the dog is going to disappear in the whole picture. So that’s what we do in perfumery. We put enough of those dots to recognize a certain facet, a floral facet, a woody facet, and the brain then is going to register that as a floral note and is going to remind you of your grandmother and you’re going to say, “Oh, this is like my grandmother.” But to recreate the smell of grandmother, you have to have different molecules in there, some of them would have never – would never, by themselves, reminded you of your grandmother, but altogether, then you register grandmother, not the 20 molecules that are needed to do that.
Recorded September 9, 2010
Interviewed by Andrew Dermont
When you smell a perfume you may be smelling hundreds of molecules at once, but the best nose in the world cannot smell more than five distinct scents.
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Poland has become an increasingly unwelcoming place for the LGBTQ community. 50 diplomats hope to change that.
- An open letter, signed by 50 ambassadors and NGO leaders, asked the Polish government to respect LGBT rights.
- The Polish Government responded by denying the implied discrimination exists.
- Poland has been deemed the "worst place to be gay" in the EU in spite of this.
Strongly worded letters, the weapon of champions.<p> Organized by the Embassy of the Kingdom of Belgium in Poland, the <a href="https://pl.usembassy.gov/open_letter/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">open</a> <a href="https://pl.usembassy.gov/open_letter/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">letter</a> was signed by the Ambassadors of 43 nations representing most of Europe and all of continental North America, as well as several countries from Asia, Africa, and South America. Representatives of various international organizations, including the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, also signed. </p><p>The letter pays tribute to those working for LGBT+ rights in Poland and affirms the dignity found in each person "as expressed in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights." It goes on to remind the reader that "respect for these fundamental rights, which are also enshrined in OSCE commitments and the obligations and standards of the Council of Europe and the European Union as communities of rights and values, obliges governments to protect all citizens from violence and discrimination and to ensure they enjoy equal opportunities."</p><p>It ends with the declaration, "Human rights are universal and everyone, including LGBT+ persons, are entitled to their full enjoyment. This is something that everyone should support."</p><p>The American Ambassador to Poland, Georgette Mosbacher, <a href="https://twitter.com/USAmbPoland/status/1310276250993405954?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw%7Ctwcamp%5Etweetembed%7Ctwterm%5E1310276250993405954%7Ctwgr%5Eshare_3&ref_url=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.them.us%2Fstory%2F50-countries-sign-letter-condemning-polands-lgbt-free-zones" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">retweeted</a> the letter and added, "Human Rights are not an ideology - they are universal. 50 Ambassadors and Representatives agree." </p>
The Response of the Polish Government<iframe width="730" height="430" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/EBthKt2Of9U" frameborder="0" allow="accelerometer; autoplay; clipboard-write; encrypted-media; gyroscope; picture-in-picture" allowfullscreen></iframe><p>The Polish Government was less than pleased with the letter and its implications. <br> <br> The Prime Minister of Poland, Mateusz Morawiecki, rejected the letter and its implications, saying "nobody needs to teach us tolerance, because we are a nation that has learned such tolerance for centuries and we have given many testimonies to the history of such tolerance."<strong></strong></p><p><strong> </strong>This sort of rebuttal is nothing new; just last week, when American Presidential Candidate Joe Biden <a href="https://twitter.com/JoeBiden/status/1307831910089990144" target="_blank">tweeted </a>that "LGBT-free zones' have no place in the European Union or anywhere in the world," the <a href="https://wyborcza.pl/7,173236,26327279,polish-embassy-to-biden-no-lgbt-free-zones-exist-in-poland.html?disableRedirects=true" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Polish Embassy in the United States </a>was quick to say the tweet was based on inaccurate information, to reassure the world that there are no such zones, and to restate their belief there is no place for discrimination in society. <br> </p><p>A quick fact check demonstrates otherwise. Several places in Poland have declared themselves to be "<a href="https://www.bbc.com/news/stories-54191344" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">LGBT free zones,</a>" violence inspired by anti-LGBT+ propaganda has taken <a href="https://www.nytimes.com/2019/07/27/world/europe/gay-pride-march-poland-violence.html?action=click&module=RelatedLinks&pgtype=Article" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">place</a>, l<a href="https://www.nytimes.com/2020/07/30/world/europe/LGBT-free-poland-EU-funds.html" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">eading government figures</a> have declared homosexuality to be a "threat to Polish identity, to our nation, to its existence and thus to the Polish state," and the President of Poland, Andrzej Duda has declared the LGBT movement to be more dangerous than <a href="https://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-54317902" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Communism</a><a href="https://theconversation.com/how-a-gender-conspiracy-theory-is-spreading-across-the-world-133854" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">. Surveys</a> show nearly a third of Poland's people believe in a grand conspiracy against them involving "<a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anti-gender_movement" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">gender ideology.</a>"</p><p>It is also worth repeating that Poland has been declared the worst place in the European Union for <a href="https://notesfrompoland.com/2020/05/14/poland-ranked-as-worst-country-in-eu-for-lgbt-people/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">gay</a> <a href="https://notesfrompoland.com/2020/05/14/poland-ranked-as-worst-country-in-eu-for-lgbt-people/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">rights</a>. Same-sex unions of any kind, including civil unions, are still illegal, and gay couples have no right to adopt children. Laws against hate crimes and conversion therapy are also notoriously lacking. Though to their credit, gay men and bisexuals can donate blood in Poland with greater ease then they can in the <a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blood_donation_restrictions_on_men_who_have_sex_with_men#Europe" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">United States. </a> </p><p>Despite having a first-hand understanding of the dangers of authoritarianism and intolerance than most nations, some in Poland continue to use the LGBT+ community as a boogeyman. While it is not the first time such things have been done, perhaps it will be one of the last. </p>
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- None of these ideas are without their detractors, or qualifying evidence.
- As the United States grapples with criminal justice reform, the arguments each philosophy has behind it will have to be considered.