The university of life

The smell of success

Although pure research is the highest form of intellectual pursuit sometimes we have to descent from our ivory tower and see what science can do for everyday life. We identify major problems in our society and solve them by applying our logical deduction skills. We were observing a woman in the supermarket in between the tomato and banana section. She was sniffing fruit, apparently to assess their desirability. This is exceptional behaviour. In a modern society we do not have to rely on ancient scent mechanisms very often. The only two known examples are the sniffing of fruit and the sniffing of the toilet.

In the animal world scent plays an important role in the communication between the sexes. We humans are lacking the training and experience to handle these ancient signal mechanisms, such as smell and pheromones. Modern technology did try her best to bring people closer together by inventing the perfume industry.

Strong overwhelming odours give huge signals. But still people find it difficult to get closer. We at the University of Life discovered the cause of the paradox. Modern perfumes are distributed from the source (the attractor) with a gradient, with the strongest signal near the attractor. The signal weakens the further we move from the attractor. The person that needs to be attracted (the attractee), will only be tempted by the odorous signal at a certain level of intensity of this signal. To weak and the the attractee wil not notice, too strong and the attractee will be repulsed. And here lies the weakness of modern perfumes.

To make sure that the attractee receives a strong enough signal at a distance between two people, the attractor has to apply an extremely high dose at the source. Perfume works with a gradient after all. The attractee will be attracted by the signal, but when the attractee moves closer to examine the attractor, the attractee will hit a scent barrier. The signal becomes so strong that the attractee becomes a repulsee. You will actually see that person making small movements back and forth, unable to come closer, unable to move away. Intimacy cannot be attained and communicational failure is certain.

The solution is simple. We propose that the chemical industry should focus all their effort on inventing a perfume that actually gains in strength away from the source. This could be achieved by a molecular time release that is activated after leaving the source site. It would then be possible to still apply high quantities of perfume, achieve maximum effect at relatively large distances, but not hinder any social approaches.


Professor at the UOL

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