In traditional perfumery, raw ingredients (rose petals, wood cuttings) are cooked, pressed, or macerated to produce the essential oils that are the building blocks of scent construction. The new tools in major scent labs, however, enable another approach. You can collect an air sample containing odorants, analyze it in the lab, and have your scientists attempt to synthetically construct those same odorant molecules. As my factory visit wraps up, I ask one of Nguyen´s lab mates if he would replicate, say, the smell of gun smoke in a dusty Tikrit alley. No, he says, because the profit incentive isn´t there yet. Could he? Almost certainly.