Sci­ence

The Advertiser - SA Weekend - - BOOKS -

Float­ing Gold Christo­pher Kemp, Fourth Es­tate, $24.99 Kemp en­ters the covert world of am­ber­gris hunters and deal­ers and delves into the sto­ried his­tory of this elu­sive, mys­te­ri­ous sub­stance. Chameleon-like, am­ber­gris comes in so many colours, shapes and tex­tures that only ex­perts can re­ally iden­tify it, and no two peo­ple de­scribe its smell the same way. Cov­eted by royalty and the very wealthy, it has been more valu­able than gold but at times has also been fed to live­stock, and used as fuel, boot grease, and (of course) an aphro­disiac. But it’s best known as a base and fix­a­tive for the world’s most ex­pen­sive per­fumes. Pretty fancy stuff for a sub­stance that we now know orig­i­nates in the bow­els of sperm whales. Rick Sul­li­van

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