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Distillations Podcast

#HistChem Distillations explores aspects of humanity’s scientific and cultural legacy and asks the question, “How did we get here.” 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 they’ll guide us through engaging topics about history, technology, and science.

 

All posts in history

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

Episode 143: Fairyland of Chemistry

On today's episode we travel back in time to the Victorian era, when innovative teachers used fairies to convey complicated ideas in chemistry. We adapted one of these whimsical lessons into Distillations' first-ever podcast play.

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Posted In: History | Society

Episode 142: Midcentury Mutants

On today's episode we look at the real and imagined implications of genetic modification in the middle of the 20th century.

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Posted In: History | Society | Technology

Episode 140: Swapping Spit

Pucker up! On today's episode we investigate the kiss. First, what's in the saliva we share with each other? Then we interview Sheril Kirshenbaum, author of The Science of Kissing, to find out why our ancestors starting locking lips in the first place.

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Posted In: History | Society

Episode 137: Cocktails

Cheers! On today's episode of Distillations we belly up to the bar to learn about distilled spirits. Then we look ahead to the next morning to determine if our tried-and-true hangover cures have any scientific merit.

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Posted In: History | Society

Episode 136: Good Vibrations

On today's episode of Distillations we investigate if there's science behind the sweet sounds of a Stradivari violin and learn how chemistry influences the work of sound artist Susan Alexjander.

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Posted In: History

Episode 133: Halloween Candy

Trick or treat! On today's episode of Distillations we give you a taste of both. First, try to choke back our explanation of a Dutch candy that features ammonium chloride and carbon black. Then follow producer Mia Lobel on a tour of the Culinary Institute of America's candy kitchen.

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Posted In: History