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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 Technology

Episode 184: Digging Up the Bodies: Debunking CSI and Other Forensics Myths

Thanks to modern technology most crimes these days can be neatly solved in under an hour. At least that's what fictional TV shows like CSI seem to suggest. 

We wanted to address the so-called "CSI Effect," caused by the simplification of forensic science in popular culture. CSI and  like minded TV showswith their heroic investigators solving crimes in mere minutesmislead viewers and affect real court cases. The reality of investigation is much slower and more complex, but no less fascinating.

Hosts Michal Meyer and Robert Kenworthy speak with experts Anna Dhody, a physical and forensic anthropologist, and Lisa Rosner, a historian. They discuss the early days of solving crime and the on-going chemistry of the human body throughout life and death.

 

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Episode 183: Atomic Power and Promise: What's Become of Our Nuclear Golden Age?

Some say we are on the verge of a bright future in which nuclear power will play a major role in responding to climate change. Others say that we should expect more Fukushimas. Whichever way our nuclear future goes, there will be tradeoffs between energy and the environment.

Hosts Michal Meyer and Robert Kenworthy speak with nuclear historians Alex Wellerstein and Linda Richards. They discuss how our turbulent nuclear past has shaped, for better and for worse, our current attitudes.

 

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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 178: In the Air

On today’s show we go local when it comes to checking up on air quality. Next up is the people power behind civic science and how nonscientists can gather useful data on their surroundings.

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Posted In: Society | Technology

Episode 177: The Old Show

Join us for the third installment of The Stages of Life, spotlighting the chemistry found in childhood, adulthood, and old age. We start by looking at what happens to the brain as we move into old age, and then we investigate how some tiny technology can help as hearing fades.

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Posted In: Society | Technology

Episode 174: Water Webs

On today's show we look at how delicate desert ecosystems are affected by climate change. Then the impact of toxic metals on Rocky Mountain streams.

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Posted In: Environment | Technology

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 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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The Museum at CHF

The Museum at CHF

Explore the fascinating history of chemistry and the role science plays in the modern world at our museum in Philadelphia.

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