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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.

 

All posts in History

Episode 182: Zombies! How We Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Zombie Apocalypse

What can zombies teach us about our fears of survival? CHF's Michal Meyer and Robert Kenworthy talk to Deanna Day, a CHF fellow, and Robert Hicks, director of the College of Physicians’ Mütter Museum about what zombies can tell us about apocalyptic diseases and medical cures.

With the popularity of post-apocalyptic storytelling at an all-time high, CHF decided to look into the science, history, and sociology behind these fears.

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Episode 173: Power Up

On today's show we look at the modern power grid, which is on the brink of important changes. First, why the smart grid matters. Then, the critical mission of Caltech's Solar Army.

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Posted In: History | Technology

Episode 172: On Beauty

On today's show we look at questionable appearance enhancers. First the Beauty Historian shares some shocking beauty rituals of yore. Then a look at how Brazilian Blowouts are making salon workers sick.

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Posted In: History | Society

Episode 171: Underground Worlds

On today's show we investigate the science beneath our streets. First how a team of amateur speleologists are keeping Howe Caverns safe. Then a look at Philadelphia's historic sewer system.

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Posted In: History | Technology

Episode 170: Urban Agriculture

On today's show we learn how advances in urban agriculture are providing new access to fresh food. First how hundreds of tons of fishbones are cleaning up Oakland soil. Then tips on how to create your own backyard garden.

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Episode 169: Neighborhood Preservation

On today's show we see old bones made new again. First the ongoing restoration of Philadelphia's 19th Street Baptist Church. Then a discussion about what makes some old buildings greener than new ones.

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Episode 168: So Argon Walks Into a Bar...

On today's show chemistry takes center stage. First, why science and comedy make gut-busting bedfellows. Then the history of science as popular entertainment. 

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Posted In: History | Society

Episode 167: Cold War Chemistry

During decades of tension between the United States and the Soviet Union over the course of the Cold War, both sides wielded science as a weapon. Find out how on today's show.

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Posted In: History | Society | Technology

Episode 166: Alchemy After Dark

Just in time for Valentine's Day we explore the sexier side of alchemy. Historian Joel Klein explains how alchemists used passionate prose to disguise the details of their secret experiments.

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Posted In: History | Society

Episode 165: In Good Taste

Today your taste buds take center stage. First, how super-tasters' genetic gift might afford them better health. Then the art of imitation flavors.

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