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Distillations explores aspects of humanity’s scientific and cultural legacy and asks the question, “How did we get here?” 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 they’ll guide us through engaging topics about history, technology, and science.


Episode 72: Space and Place

Location, location, location! In this week’s episode we talk about why and how certain spaces are chosen and used. Chemical Agent: Bromine.

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Episode 71: Breakfast

Rise and Shine! Today we look at some of the most essential elements of a satisfying breakfast.

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Posted In: Society

Episode 70: The Chemistry of Dentistry

Distillations takes a look at the history and chemistry of dentistry. We find out how baking soda cleans your teeth and lidocaine numbs your gums.

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Posted In: Medicine | Society

Episode 69: Lab Safety

Laboratory science can be a risky business. While some of these substances’ dangers are easily mitigated by following proper safety procedures, others have risks that increase with extended exposure—a lesson unfortunately learned by many chemists in previous centuries, which we explore on today’s show. Chemical Agent: Lead.

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Posted In: History | Society

Episode 68: Integrated Circuits

This year is the 50th anniversary of the integrated circuit! The IC is an important part of many electronic technologies we use today, from your iPod to your GPS. Chemical Agent: Chemically Amplified Photoresists.

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Posted In: History | Technology

Episode 67: Baseball

After several long, cold months baseball season has finally begun! From Philadelphia, the home of 2008 World Series Champions, we bring you a show straight from the ballpark. Chemical Agent: Anabolic steroids.

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Posted In: Medicine | Technology

Episode 66: Cleaning Green

It is officially spring — time to open the windows, let the fresh air in, and sweep those winter blues away! Learn about acetic acid and its cleaning power. Then find out how hard water can make cleaning more difficult, and what you can do about it.

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Posted In: Environment | Society

Episode 65: Going to the Dogs

Nearly 60% of American households have at least one pet, and nearly two-thirds of pet owners had more than one. That’s a lot of dogs, cats, turtles, birds, hamsters and iguanas. On today’s episode we turn our scientific lens to the relationship between humans and their furry friends.

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Posted In: Society

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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