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Have you noticed the rain?

I was at the Naturist Foundation for the Party in the Stark yesterday. What a fabulous event which even the continuous rail failed to dampen. Starting at midday, naturists danced the afternoon away to a wide variety of music. I started the day getting up early to get there by 9 a.m. as Helen Smith was leading her nude exercises outdoors. Of course it did not happen and I got soaked trying to find out where the event was taking place. But then skin is waterproof! I finished the day doing what I always end up doing on a campsite - either putting up, or in this case taking down a tent in the rain. I point out that it was not my tent. I would not take a tent as it guarantees rainfall. I did take an umbrella, but obviously I had not paid this year's subscription for this device, which is usually guaranteed to ward off rain.

However, my garden really needed a good watering and my, it looks much better today. But also my soul needed the rain too. Have you noticed how good rain smells, particularly in summer. Did you think it was psychological? Well you would be wrong! There is a scientific reason.

First, as with all good scientific explanations the smell after rain has a name - its called petrichor. As the great physicist Dr Richard Feynman said, giving something a name tells you nothing about the subject. So until very recently the reason for the smell was not known. It turns out that certain soil bacteria called Actinomycetes release a chemical called geosmin after rainfall and that chemical is released into the air. We are sensitive to 10 parts per trillion, or one drop in an Olympic-sized swimming pool. No one knows why.

So next time you’re dancing in the rain with someone you love, tell them how much you like the smell of (4S,4aS,8aR)-4,8a-Dimethyl-1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8- octahydronaphthalen-4a- ol - that's geosmin to you.

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