Episode 35: Things We Wear


“tights,” uploaded by flickr user How can I recycle this.

This week we discuss the chemistry behind what we wear. Many modern fabrics include synthetic materials , and these synthetics would not be possible without chemistry. In the Element of the Week, we learn about aluminum’s role in creating Lurex, a brand of metallic thread. Then producer Jean Parker takes us to India and visits a tannery in Bombay to tell us more about one of the oldest fabrics known to man—leather. Finally, we explore the world of pantyhose in Chemistry in your Cupboard as CHF’s Erin McLeary describes new chemically enhanced pantyhose. Also please join us as we wish our host, Robert Hicks, a fond farewell. You can now find him as director of the Mütter Museum and Historical Medical Library at the College of Physicians of Philadelphia. Element of the Week: Aluminum.

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Show Clock

00:00 Opening Credits
00:31 Introduction
01:00 Element of the Week: Aluminum
03:20 Leather Tanning in India
08:18 Chemistry in Your Cupboard: Pantyhose
11:02 Robert’s Farewell
11:20 Quote: Mark Twain
11:33 Closing Credits

Resources and References

For more about Lurex, visit the company web site.
Curious about the history of metallic threads? Check out this blog posting, at Needle’
For an article about high-tech pantyhose look at this one from Business 2.0.


A special thanks to Erin McLeary and Jennifer Dionisio for researching the show.

Our theme music is composed by Dave Kaufman. Additional music from the PodSafe Music Network. Additional music is “Addicted to Lies,” by Frank A. LoCicero, “Back to Bach,” by Saharadja, and “Zimbobvilla,” by Podcast Troubadour.



Posted In: History | Society | Technology

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