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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 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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Episode 164: Bones

On today's show we peel back our skin. First, an innovative technology that could provide early detection of osteoporosis. Then, a look at stone man syndrome–a rare disease that causes the body's connective tissue to turn into bone when damaged.

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Posted In: History | Medicine | Technology

Episode 162: A Day in the Life - Noon

We continue the three-part series A Day in the Life, spotlighting the common chemistry of morning, noon, and night. Today, a look at the mysterious ingredients in many kitchen staples and the reason why even so-called healthy sweeteners can be toxic.

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Posted In: History | Society

Episode 161: A Day in the Life - Morning 

Today we begin the three-part series A Day in the Life, spotlighting the common chemistry of morning, noon, and night. First, a look at what's lurking in our bathroom products and what experts say about the controversy over fluoridated water.

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Episode 160: Teflon 

Treasure or toxin? Today we follow Teflon's rise from happy accident to indispensable tool at work, home, and even war. 

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Posted In: History | Technology

Episode 159: Kean on Genes

Today we welcome back author Sam Kean to discuss the secrets and surprises contained in our DNA.

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Posted In: History | Society

Episode 158: The Alchemical Quest

On today’s show is a special conversation between two alchemy experts: James Voelkel, who curated CHF’s exhibit The Alchemical Quest, and Lawrence Principe, author of The Secrets of Alchemy.

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Episode 157: Smoke and Mirrors

On today's show we track the evolution of smog from symbol of industrial progress to public-health catastrophe.

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Posted In: Environment | History | Society

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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