Episode 23: Preservation

Entropy is defined as the degree of disorder in a system, and according to the Second Law of Thermodynamics entropy is always increasing. Preservation is a way that humans are trying to beat entropy, and this week we look at why and how we preserve. Document preservation is important for historical items like the Constitution. We learn that argon is an inert gas much less reactive than oxygen and is used by places like the Library of Congress to display important documents safely. Also this week we interview Ronn Wade, director of the Maryland State Anatomy Board. Wade tells us about plastination, a modern-day mummy, as well as securing and preserving cadavers for medical students. And producer Eric Mack visits Nederland, Colorado, for Frozen Dead Guy Days where cryogenics and cryonics are discussed very seriously. Arguably Nederland’s most famous resident is the Frozen Dead Guy, Bredo Morstel. Element of the Week: Argon.

Show Clock

00:00     Opening Credits
00:32     Introduction
01:08     Element of the Week: Argon
03:24     Conversation with Ronn Wade
07:29     Frozen Dead Guy Days
11:28     Quote: Neil Rollinson
11:44     Closing Credits

Resources and References

An article about using argon to preserve documents.
More about Waldseemüller’s 1507 map.
The National Institute of Standards and Technology Cryogenics Web site.
The Cryonics Institute Web site.
All about the plastination process.


This show was researched by Audra Wolfe.

Our theme music is composed by Dave Kaufman. Additional music was provided by the Podsafe Music Network. The music for the Element of the Week is “Shambhala,” by r.domain. Under the show ID is “Cafe Turc,” by Sara Alexander. The music for the quotation is “Shimdiggy,” by Romashka.



Posted In: History | Medicine

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