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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 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 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 155: Shipwrecks

Ahoy, mateys. Join us on the ocean floor. On today's show we look at sunken ships: how they are preserved, and what they can tell us about civilizations from the past.

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Posted In: History | Society | Technology

Episode 154: Fast and Slow

Good science takes time... or not? On today's show we explore the extremes. First the longest-running experiment in the world; then the near-instant chemical reaction that helps airbags protect you in a crash.

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Posted In: History | Society | Technology

Episode 153: Best of Distillations #10

We bring you some of our favorite segments from past Distillations episodes this week: attempts to contact aliens in space and the secret behind the sweet sound of Stradivari violins.

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Posted In: History | Society | Technology

Episode 151: Tears

Today we wrap up the three-part series Blood, Sweat, and Tears. First how it feels to lose your ability to cry; then why onions bring on the waterworks.

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Episode 150: Sweat

Today we continue the three-part series Blood, Sweat, and Tears. First the history of deodorants; then experiments on how perspiration might diagnose diseases like schizophrenia.

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Episode 149: Blood

Today we begin the three-part series Blood, Sweat, and Tears. First how one man solved the mystery of blood function; then how researchers will bust blood-doping athletes at the Olympic games.

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Episode 146: Something in the Air

Sneezing, itchy eyes, runny nose? We all know what that means: allergies. On today's show we look at pet dander, a common cause. Then we talk to a researcher dissecting the makeup of dust.

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Episode 144: Mystery of Mass (Spec)

On today's episode we look at the diverse history of mass spectrometry, starting with a single question: exactly what is it? Then we dip into our oral history collection to show the breadth of mass spec's reach, including the Manhattan Project.

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Posted In: History | Technology