Episode 54: Holiday Greetings 2008

Stylized model of J.J. Thomson's plum pudding model.

The illustration is a stylized model of J. J. Thomson’s plum pudding model. John Woodcock© Dorling Kindersley.

Happy holidays to all our listeners!

Thanks to J. J. Thomson‘s plum pudding model of the atom, chemistry will be forever associated with 19th-century British Christmas traditions. His model was soon discarded, but it remains a staple of high school chemistry textbooks. On today’s episode, we introduce a new segment, “Tools of the Trade,” that looks at the  models, instruments, and artifacts—whether still in use or long discarded—that help scientists do their jobs. We also visit with Emilio Mignucci, one of the owners of Philadelphia’s famous DiBruno Brothers gourmet foods shop, to find out the story behind ham, that favorite holiday food. Element of the Week: Tin.

Show Clock

00:00 Opening Credits
00:32 Introduction
01:10 Element of the Week: Tin
02:47 Tools of the Trade: Plum Pudding
05:41 Feature: Ham
10:47 Closing Credits

Resources and References

Learn more about J. J. Thomson and other atomic theorists at the Chemical Heritage Foundation‘s Chemical Achievers site.
Explore historic recipes, like this one for plum pudding, at Michigan State University’s Feeding America online cookbook project.
We found about the history of toys from this charming site from the Hampshire County Council.
The ever-useful Web Elements site has basic information on all the elements, including tin.


Special thanks go to Hilary Domush, Anke Timmermann, and Eleanor Goldberg for researching the show.

Our theme music is composed by Dave Kaufman. Additional music from the PodSafe Music Network. Additional music is “Little Drummer Dude,” by Charlie Crowe, “Carol of the Bells,” by Doug Astrop, and  ”Joy-Kinda Holiday-ish,” by Charlie Crowe.

Posted In: Society

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