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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 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 152: Best of Distillations #9

We bring you some of our favorite segments from past Distillations episodes this week: animal communication in the Sonoran Desert and the toll of asbestos waste on a small Pennsylvanian town.

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Posted In: Environment | History | Society

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 148: Across the Pond

On today's episode we cross the Atlantic to learn what makes a perfect cuppa. Then we learn about the surprising health benefits of Marmite, a spreadable food item people love to hate.

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Posted In: History | Medicine | Society

Episode 147: Babies

Big eyes, soft skin, squeezable cheeks. No doubt, babies are adorable. But on today's show we take a break from our cooing to examine some more serious aspects of parenthood. First how formula has waxed and waned in popularity. Then how embryos wreak havoc in the womb.

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Posted In: History | Medicine | Society

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 145: Asbestos

Asbestos, once a miracle product, is now a plague on the aging infrastructure to which it's bound. Today we explore a Pennsylvania town where a wide swath of asbestos-contaminated land stands capped and unusable. Then we visit a historic high school that is now dormant due to the expense of asbestos remediation.

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Posted In: Environment | History | Society

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

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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