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The Smell of Books

A scientific approach to the world of rare books - Scientists may not be able to tell a good book by its cover, but they now can tell the condition of an old book by its odor.

Published on 22 Feb. 2018

A scientific approach to the world of rare books


Scientists may not be able to tell a good book by its cover, but they now can tell the condition of an old book by its odor.

"Paper emits more than 200 various compounds of which on the basis of our research we were able to pinpoint to 10 or 15 compounds that carry the most information about the composition of paper," said Matija Strlie. The senior lecturer at the Center for Sustainable Heritage at the University College London surveyed the VOC emissions from 72 paper samples and developed a series of scent markers for the structural stability of documents, books and other paper materials.

Cristen Onger, “Old Books Gassier With Age”, on Discovery News Online.

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