Friday, May 21, 2010

Smelling Books... For Science!

Seriously, book sniffing and its use in the preservation of books.

The test is based on detecting the levels of volatile organic compounds.

These are released by paper as it ages and produce the familiar "old book smell".

The international research team, led by Matija Strlic from University College London's Centre for Sustainable Heritage, describes that smell as "a combination of grassy notes with a tang of acids and a hint of vanilla over an underlying mustiness".

It all involves gas chromatography-mass spectrometry, which is not that intimidating looking a word but don't ask me exactly what it means. Since I've harped on people smelling books in two posts, it seemed only fair to link this.


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