Episode 124: Our Chemical Landscape – The Suburb

Commuters taking the highway to downtown Austin.

Commuters taking the highway to downtown Austin. Image courtesy of Flickr user Rutlo.

In honor of the International Year of Chemistry, Distillations is airing a four-part series Our Chemical Landscape. These shows look at how science has shaped the city, the suburb, the farm, and the wild. Today's episode is about the suburb, and how its transportation needs have evolved over the past century. First we hear about the dawn of the age of electric cars—in the early 20th century. And next, producer Lindsay Patterson shows how some of Austin's gridlocked commuters are reacting to the region's new mass transit options.

Show Clock

00:00 Opening Credits
01:00 Introduction
02:10 History of The Suburb: Electric Cars
05:54 Future of The Suburb: Mass Transit in Austin, TX
13:50Closing Credits


Our Chemical Landscape is part of CHF’s Thanks to Chemistry project, sponsored by BASF Corporation,  The Camille and Henry Dreyfus Foundation, DuPont, and ExxonMobil.

Our theme music is composed by Dave Kaufman. Additional music from Music Alley. Additional music includes "That's My Car," by Bill Tucker, and "The Official Cars and Trains Theme Song," by Cars and Trains. 

Special thanks to the University of California Santa Barbara’s Cylinder Preservation and Digitization Project, as well as John C. Meyer III of, who allowed us to feature the shake and rattle of an actual 1902 Oldsmobile. To hear what other early cars sounded like, visit the “engines” page of his Web site.

Image courtesy of Flickr user Rutlo.

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