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The scent of the sea - Ode to Emiliania

Prof. dr. Jos van den Broek (Leiden University)


The scent of the sea - Ode to Emiliania is an interactive visual lecture in which the origin of the odour of the sea is revealed. This lecture is initiated by Satellietgroep and The NIP in the context of the project 'Now Wakes The Sea'. One of the most important organisms on Earth is Emiliania huxleyi due to its presumed role in the Gaia concept of a self-regulating Mother Earth. It is one of thousands of different photosynthetic plankton that freely drift in the ocean, forming the basis of virtually all marine food webs. E. huxleyi is by far the most abundant coccolithophore found in the Earth's oceans, and is considered ubiquitous, occurring everywhere except the polar regions. E. huxleyi has the potential to act as a net source of CO2 out of the ocean as a reaction to ocean acidification. Its sulphur-containing products are responsible for the typical sea odour.

Jos van den Broek graduated as a biochemist at Leiden University, where he also got his Ph.D. degree in pharmacology. From 1981 he is professionally involved in science communication. From 1989-1990 he earned a Knight Science Journalism Fellowship at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). At the end of 2003 he rejoined Leiden University in order to set up the Science & Communication Ma specialization at the Faculty of Science. He now is Professor in Biomedical Science Communication at the Faculty of Science of Leiden University, focusing on health awareness, nature awareness and universe awareness. Visual communication for the illiterate is one of his main interests in science and health communication. He is co-author and designer of the visual communication handbook Beeldtaal (Spring 2010), published in English as Visual Language in 2012. He wrote and co-authored numerous popular-science books on science experiments, nature, evolution and ageing. In his most recent book he answers questions of children on biological issues. He is now at the brink of publishing a similar book on questions about Eart, Sun and astronomy. Playful is his middle name.