Luca Turin is a biophysicist and expert in the sense of smell. He is best known to the scientific community as the proponent of the vibrational theory of olfaction: that smell receptors detect the vibrational frequencies of the molecular bonds of parts of the scent molecule. This theory represents an alternative to the older shape-based theory of smell: that scent molecules bind to specific receptors that conform to the shape of the scent molecule. The debate on this topic is detailed in Turin's The Secret of Scent, and Chandler Burr's The Emperor of Scent.
He is also the author, with his partner Tania Sanchez, of Perfumes: The A-Z Guide, which provides a sensual and witty look at over 1,000 commercially available perfumes. He also writes perfume criticism in several locations online, including at perfumesilove.com, and is a scent molecule designer and consultant to the industry.
Links and bonus materials
Luca's TED talks:
Perfumes: The A-Z Guide website.
Tania Sanchez on Twitter
People Mentioned in the Episode
François Coty, founder of Coty
Mark Buxton, perfumer for Comme des Garçons, among others