Andy's weekly cafe

As we come to a close on this week, I’d very much like to invite you to ask me some questions on what is happening in the world of chemistry, including in the area of fragrances - you may have seen some science news in the media whilst the course has been running, and this is our chance to make sure we can all stay abreast of what’s topical and how it might affect us all going forward.

For example, did you see the research by US scientists that show our sense of smell is just as good as in other mammals, like rodents and dogs? Apparently, we are more sensitive to bananas than both dogs and rabbits because of a superior sensitivity to pentyl acetate (CH3CO2(CH2)4CH3), a principal ingredient of the fruit’s smell.

Or the study that found that pupils working in a room with the aroma of rosemary, in the form of an essential oil, achieved 5% to 7% better results in memory tests. Perhaps neurotransmitters in the brain associated with memory are affected by the scent of rosemary?

Or perhaps research ensuring that fragrances in household products, from body wash to shampoos, stick to the skin instead of being washed down the drain immediately after their application. Mixing fragrances with various polymers (we cover polymers in week 4) helped the scents remain on the skin and hair - increasing their retention can mean that manufacturers won’t need to add as much fragrance oil, which may lead to lower costs for both the industry and consumers.

I’ll be offering this opportunity every week, so when we start, all you will see above is a placeholder video. I’d very much like you to pose any questions you have in the Comments below or using our hashtag #FLChemistry by noon of Thursday each week - we will then create a short video which brings together some of the topics which seem most interesting and post that the next day on the Friday. Don’t miss out on the chance to share what’s on your mind!

Also, as an end-of-week teaser, see if you can deduce the names of the fragrant compounds in the photomontage below, and identify all of the functional groups, and post your answers.

Finally, why not download a digital badge as a momento of completing the first week of our course. We have one for each week and hope you will achieve a full set!

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This video is from the free online course:

Exploring Everyday Chemistry

University of York