Love is in the air... Can you smell it?

February 13, 2011 6:41:29 AM PST
As Valentine's Day approaches, some Philadelphia scientists want to know if love, truly, is in the air.

They are exploring how unique scents our bodies emit, might play a role in human attraction.

There are plenty of pleasant aromas we associate with Valentine's Day: Roses, chocolate, maybe your special someone's favorite fragrance.

But other scents might play a role in love. Scientists at the University of Pennsylvania's Monell Chemical Senses Center are studying what they call "odor prints." They're chemical signatures as unique as our fingerprints. The researchers want to see whether the subtle smell we naturally emit might have something to do with selecting someone to love.

Monell's Dr. Charles Wysocki brought a bachelor and three women to the Chemical Heritage Foundation Museum in Old City. They had no previous association. The women were asked to use only fragrance-free personal care products leading up to the experiment, and to sleep in a plain white t-shirt for three nights. They brought the shirts to the museum, and the shirts were set out before bachelor Eric Riley.

Riley smelled all 3 with the women away from the display. One stood out as having a sweet, slightly floral aroma, and that's the one he selected.

Kylie Flett, who wore that shirt, quipped that no one except her mother had ever told her she was sweet before.

The Chemical Heritage Foundation operates its museum and library at 315 Chestnut Street in Old City Philadelphia. It's open weekdays from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. and the public is welcome to visit, admission-free. The museum also is open the first Friday of the month from 5:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m.

You can follow these links for more information about the Monell Chemical Senses Center and the Chemical Heritage Foundation and its museum. You can also phone (215) 925. 2222.