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Distillations Podcast

Distillations explores the human stories behind science and technology, tracing a path through history in order to better understand the present. Our hosts are Michal Meyer, historian of science and editor in chief of Chemical Heritage magazine, and Bob Kenworthy, CHF’s in-house chemist. Each month we examine the intersections of culture, history, and material science.

 

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Episode 64: sLowlife

Plants are not the silent, stationary creatures we imagine them to be. They drift, stretch, and dance in search of nutrients, water, and sunlight. Inspired by sLowlife, a dynamic multimedia exhibit now on display in the Clifford C. Hach Gallery at the Chemical Heritage Foundation, today’s show looks at the chemistry behind plant growth and movement.

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Posted In: Society

Episode 63: Biofuel

Fossil fuel has gotten us into all sorts of trouble lately. Gas production and consumption has caused international conflict, wrecked havoc on our planet, and lightened our wallets at the gas pump. Why not turn to plants? They get their energy from the sun; and with a little smart science, they can pass on their clean green energy to our cars.

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Episode 62: Chemical Romance

It’s Valentine’s Day this weekend, and love is in the air. Let’s learn how atoms find each other with an examination of chemical bonds. Chemical Agent: Free Radicals.

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Posted In: History | Society

Episode 60: Professional Networks

Today Distillations is finding out more about professional networks—particularly in the field of chemistry.

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Posted In: History | Society | Technology

Episode 59: Winter Sports

We’re hitting the slopes—and tending our wounds—on today’s episode of Distillations. We start off with the science behind sports gels. Next, find out more about the synthetic fabrics. Finally, learn about the latest advances in fake snow.

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Posted In: Society

Episode 58: Presidents & Policy 

Distillations is taking a look at the presidential side of chemistry. First we learn about stem cells and the controversy surrounding their research. Next we find out why 21-gun salutes are safe and not so smoky in Mystery Solved!

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Episode 57: Library & Information Services

Let’s go to the library! This week we take a field trip to that venerable institution where great reading abounds and shushing up is de rigueur.

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Posted In: History | Society

Episode 56: New Year's Resolutions

What do you resolve to do in 2009? Get in shape? Improve your eating habits? Stop smoking? We cover them all on this week’s show.Our Mystery Solved! segment investigates why fruits and vegetables high in antioxidants, like the pomegranates pictured here, are being credited with all sorts of health-saving powers.

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Episode 55: Anniversary

We are marking the one year anniversary of Distillations this week! To celebrate we’re looking back at the year 2008 and its noteworthy occasions: first, boron, whose 200th birthday was this year, then, the Nobel Prize.

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Posted In: History | Society | Technology

Episode 54: Holiday Greetings 2008

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.

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Posted In: Society