Scent Track: What can the History of Olfaction tell us about Theorizing in the Life Sciences?

Ann-Sophie Barwich, Columbia University

Wednesday, April 26, 2017 -

6:00am to 7:30pm

New York Academy of Medicine (New York, NY)

1216 Fifth Avenue at 103rd Street, New York, NY 10029

Perfumery may possibly be the second oldest business in the history of mankind. However, olfaction, the sense of smell, has attracted systematic interest in scientific studies only recently. The discovery of the olfactory receptor genes by Linda Buck and Richard Axel in 1991 catapulted olfaction into neurobiological research.
This talk focuses on the difficulty of scientifically studying olfaction. What is the material “smelling principle” underlying the variety of odorous plant and animal materials? How do you “materialize” the perceptual process of smelling? And by what criteria can you test your ideas about smell as a perceptible and qualitatively rich but invisible dimension of matter?
This event is part of the New York History of Science Lecture Series presented in collaboration with The Center for Science and Society at Columbia University.
Advanced registration is required.