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Science is perception: what can our sense of smell tell us about ourselves and the world around us?

Brookes JC - Philos Trans A Math Phys Eng Sci (2010)

Bottom Line: These fundamental questions are not answered within the sphere of smell science; we do not know what it is about a molecule that ... smells.Most importantly, I draw links and comparisons as to how better understanding of how small (10's of atoms) molecules can interact so specially with large (10,000's of atoms) proteins in a way that is so integral to healthy living.Repercussions of this work are not just important in understanding a basic scientific tool used by us all, but often taken for granted, it is also a step closer to understanding generic mechanisms between drug and receptor, for example.

View Article: PubMed Central - PubMed

Affiliation: The London Centre for Nanotechnology, University College London, Gower Street, London WC1E 6BT, UK. ucapjcb@ucl.ac.uk

ABSTRACT
Human sensory processes are well understood: hearing, seeing, perhaps even tasting and touch--but we do not understand smell--the elusive sense. That is, for the others we know what stimuli causes what response, and why and how. These fundamental questions are not answered within the sphere of smell science; we do not know what it is about a molecule that ... smells. I report, here, the status quo theories for olfaction, highlighting what we do not know, and explaining why dismissing the perception of the input as 'too subjective' acts as a roadblock not conducive to scientific inquiry. I outline the current and new theory that conjectures a mechanism for signal transduction based on quantum mechanical phenomena, dubbed the 'swipe card', which is perhaps controversial but feasible. I show that such lines of thinking may answer some questions, or at least pose the right questions. Most importantly, I draw links and comparisons as to how better understanding of how small (10's of atoms) molecules can interact so specially with large (10,000's of atoms) proteins in a way that is so integral to healthy living. Repercussions of this work are not just important in understanding a basic scientific tool used by us all, but often taken for granted, it is also a step closer to understanding generic mechanisms between drug and receptor, for example.

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Related in: MedlinePlus

The configuration coordinate diagram to describe events in olfaction is shown. Electron tunnelling from the donor /D〉 to acceptor /A〉 is facilitated by the excitation of an appropriate odorant phonon corresponding to  The change in force as the electron transfers is characterized by the shift in energy, down the vertical axes E, and displacement, along the reaction coordinate Q, that is phonon assisted. The reaction coordinate describes the displacements of nuclear modes that entail the reaction pathway.
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RSTA20100117F3: The configuration coordinate diagram to describe events in olfaction is shown. Electron tunnelling from the donor /D〉 to acceptor /A〉 is facilitated by the excitation of an appropriate odorant phonon corresponding to The change in force as the electron transfers is characterized by the shift in energy, down the vertical axes E, and displacement, along the reaction coordinate Q, that is phonon assisted. The reaction coordinate describes the displacements of nuclear modes that entail the reaction pathway.

Mentions: A configuration coordinate diagram helps us to put the electron transition in the context of nuclear vibrations. The coordinate diagram uses two parabolas (figure 3) to describe the harmonic motions of all oscillations within the receptor, initially (in state D) and finally (in state A). This approximates all the SHOs as one collective motion. The nuclear modes of motion, not necessarily the normal modes, that describe the reaction pathway (electron on D or A) consist of the reaction coordinate. There are two instances (channels) when an electron can transfer from D to A while satisfying the fundamental law of energy conservation: when or when εD−εA=0. The first instance corresponds to receptor discrimination of an odorant and the second does not. In the non-discriminating channel the odorant is not excited. In the discriminating channel, the odorant absorbs this energy . The probability for both events, discriminatory and non-discriminatory, can be calculated with Fermi’s golden rule. For quantum mechanics to explain how humans smell, the discriminatory channel must ‘win’.


Science is perception: what can our sense of smell tell us about ourselves and the world around us?

Brookes JC - Philos Trans A Math Phys Eng Sci (2010)

The configuration coordinate diagram to describe events in olfaction is shown. Electron tunnelling from the donor /D〉 to acceptor /A〉 is facilitated by the excitation of an appropriate odorant phonon corresponding to  The change in force as the electron transfers is characterized by the shift in energy, down the vertical axes E, and displacement, along the reaction coordinate Q, that is phonon assisted. The reaction coordinate describes the displacements of nuclear modes that entail the reaction pathway.
© Copyright Policy - open-access
Related In: Results  -  Collection

License
Show All Figures
getmorefigures.php?uid=PMC2944383&req=5

RSTA20100117F3: The configuration coordinate diagram to describe events in olfaction is shown. Electron tunnelling from the donor /D〉 to acceptor /A〉 is facilitated by the excitation of an appropriate odorant phonon corresponding to The change in force as the electron transfers is characterized by the shift in energy, down the vertical axes E, and displacement, along the reaction coordinate Q, that is phonon assisted. The reaction coordinate describes the displacements of nuclear modes that entail the reaction pathway.
Mentions: A configuration coordinate diagram helps us to put the electron transition in the context of nuclear vibrations. The coordinate diagram uses two parabolas (figure 3) to describe the harmonic motions of all oscillations within the receptor, initially (in state D) and finally (in state A). This approximates all the SHOs as one collective motion. The nuclear modes of motion, not necessarily the normal modes, that describe the reaction pathway (electron on D or A) consist of the reaction coordinate. There are two instances (channels) when an electron can transfer from D to A while satisfying the fundamental law of energy conservation: when or when εD−εA=0. The first instance corresponds to receptor discrimination of an odorant and the second does not. In the non-discriminating channel the odorant is not excited. In the discriminating channel, the odorant absorbs this energy . The probability for both events, discriminatory and non-discriminatory, can be calculated with Fermi’s golden rule. For quantum mechanics to explain how humans smell, the discriminatory channel must ‘win’.

Bottom Line: These fundamental questions are not answered within the sphere of smell science; we do not know what it is about a molecule that ... smells.Most importantly, I draw links and comparisons as to how better understanding of how small (10's of atoms) molecules can interact so specially with large (10,000's of atoms) proteins in a way that is so integral to healthy living.Repercussions of this work are not just important in understanding a basic scientific tool used by us all, but often taken for granted, it is also a step closer to understanding generic mechanisms between drug and receptor, for example.

View Article: PubMed Central - PubMed

Affiliation: The London Centre for Nanotechnology, University College London, Gower Street, London WC1E 6BT, UK. ucapjcb@ucl.ac.uk

ABSTRACT
Human sensory processes are well understood: hearing, seeing, perhaps even tasting and touch--but we do not understand smell--the elusive sense. That is, for the others we know what stimuli causes what response, and why and how. These fundamental questions are not answered within the sphere of smell science; we do not know what it is about a molecule that ... smells. I report, here, the status quo theories for olfaction, highlighting what we do not know, and explaining why dismissing the perception of the input as 'too subjective' acts as a roadblock not conducive to scientific inquiry. I outline the current and new theory that conjectures a mechanism for signal transduction based on quantum mechanical phenomena, dubbed the 'swipe card', which is perhaps controversial but feasible. I show that such lines of thinking may answer some questions, or at least pose the right questions. Most importantly, I draw links and comparisons as to how better understanding of how small (10's of atoms) molecules can interact so specially with large (10,000's of atoms) proteins in a way that is so integral to healthy living. Repercussions of this work are not just important in understanding a basic scientific tool used by us all, but often taken for granted, it is also a step closer to understanding generic mechanisms between drug and receptor, for example.

Show MeSH
Related in: MedlinePlus