A rose by any other name…

Rick Townley dot com

A book has got smell. A new book smells great. An old book smells even better. – Ray Bradbury

You know the smell. It’s nothing you can buy to use as a perfume, though I’m a bit surprised no one has ever tried, and it is uniquely identifiable to anyone who has ever handled an old book. It’s easy to understand that the smell of a new book is a combination of fresh paper and ink (mostly), but what gives old books their unique, slightly acidic odor?

Old books in a stackA team of scientists from major European and UK universities wondered about that and did an extensive study. This is what they came up with:

Using supervised and unsupervised methods of multivariate data analysis, we were able to quantitatively correlate volatile degradation products with properties important for the preservation of historic paper: rosin, lignin and carbonyl group content, degree of polymerization of cellulose, and…

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