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Distillations Podcast

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Distillations podcast 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, a historian of science and editor in chief of Distillations magazine, and Bob Kenworthy, CHF’s in-house chemist. Each month we explore stories from the intersection of science, culture, and history.

All posts in society

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 181: Chemotherapy

On today’s show we take a look at a disease feared for millennia: cancer. Until the 20th century cancer was almost always a death sentence. Find out what changed. And then listen to a very personal story as a daughter follows her father through chemotherapy.

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Posted In: Medicine | Society

Episode 179: Best of Distillations #11

This week we bring you some of our favorite segments from the past season.  The first course is a tasty morsel on cheese, not just ordinary cheese but cheese made using bacteria from some, uh, unexpected places. The equally delicious second course explores what taste can tell us about health.

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Posted In: Society

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 176: The Adult Show

Join us for the second installment of The Stages of Life, spotlighting the chemistry found in childhood, adulthood, and old age. We start by looking at how the brain changes as we move into adulthood, and then we investigate what’s new with the oldest type of contraception.

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Posted In: Society

Episode 175: The Kid Show

Today we begin a three-part series, The Stages of Life, spotlighting the chemistry found in childhood, adulthood, and old age. First, a look at the brains of children, followed by the colorful world of the crayon.

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Posted In: Society

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

The Museum at CHF

The Museum at CHF

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