Monday, January 28, 2013

Quantum theory of smell causes a new stink

Quantum theory of smell causes a new stink: In 1996 he proposed that a smell receptor would only fire when a molecule vibrated at the right frequency. These vibrations provide enough energy to trigger a quantum tunneling effect, causing an electron to pass across the receptor and trigger a smell.

One way to test the theory is replacing the hydrogen atoms in a molecule with deuterium, a hydrogen isotope with a nucleus of a neutron and a proton, rather than just a proton. The shape of the molecule barely changes, but the added neutrons alter the frequency of its vibrations.

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