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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 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

Episode 132: Harvest

Today's show explores two very different ways people hope to protect future harvests. First, follow us to the Doomsday Vault, which protects 700,000 seed families. Next, join farmer Miguel Santistevan as he revives his ancestors' agricultural practices.

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Episode 131: Dinosaurs

Today's show goes back in time to try to pinpoint what exactly the dinosaurs were like. First, we reveal evidence that the oldest known bird might actually be a dinosaur. Then we follow a researcher attempting to reclassify many familiar dinosaurs.

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Posted In: History

Episode 130: Our Chemical Landscape – The Wild

Today we wrap up the four-part series: Our Chemical Landscape. These shows look at how science has shaped the city, the suburb, the farm, and the wild. This episode is about the wild, and how its species-in-residence use chemistry to communicate.

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Posted In: Environment | History

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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