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Science

Distillations: Science + Culture + History

Science History Institute

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Each episode of Distillations podcast takes a deep-dive into a moment of science-related history in order to shed light on the present.
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42:10 | Jan 15th

Egyptian scriptures from 1200 BCE describe painful, migraine-like headaches, so we know the disorder has afflicted people for at least three thousand years. Still, the condition continues to mystify us today. Anne Hoffman is a reporter, a professor, ...Show More

1:10:17 | Sep 17th

For almost as long as there have been television networks, science shows have been part of the TV landscape. But science programming didn’t begin by accident. At first it was a way for TV stations to build trust with their audiences; then it was used...Show More
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04:26 | Aug 13th

We're in the thick of producing episodes for our fall season! Here's a taste of what's coming: a rubella epidemic, Alzheimer's disease, and a special collaboration with the Philadelphia Inquirer about our city's water infrastructure.

31:34 | Jun 25th

The 17 rare earth elements are often called the spices or vitamins of industry. While we don’t need much of them, they’re sprinkled in small amounts through our most powerful, futuristic, and dare we say it, magical tools. They power our iPhones and ...Show More

25:30 | Jun 25th

The 17 rare earth elements are often called the spices or vitamins of industry. While we don’t need much of them, they’re sprinkled in small amounts through our most powerful, futuristic, and dare we say it, magical tools. They power our iPhones and ...Show More

02:19 | Jun 18th

Rare earths power our modern world. They make the magic happen. But at what cost? Tune in to our next episode on June 25th.

32:20 | May 28th

In June,1969 the Cuyahoga River in Cleveland, Ohio, defied the laws of nature and caught fire. Time Magazine covered it and cemented the fire’s place in national lore. The story that followed says this fire captured the country’s attention and brough...Show More

40:16 | Apr 23rd

When we think about the U.S.-Mexico border, it’s hard not to think about the current immigration conflict and the contentious idea to build a wall. But the concept of a border wall isn’t new: proposals for walls have been made for more than 100 years...Show More

01:44 | Apr 9th

When Mexico and the United States resolved their beef.

36:27 | Mar 19th

In the late 1950s a Texas town on the Gulf of Mexico was suffering from a devastating, decade-long drought. But while the wells ran dry, the ocean lapped at the town’s shore, taunting the thirsty residents with its endless supply of undrinkable water...Show More

38:34 | Feb 12th

This Valentine’s Day we could have just brought you some sappy love stories from science’s past. But instead we offer you three tales of lust, loneliness, betrayal, pettiness, and not one, but two beheadings. Credits Hosts: Alexis Pedrick and Elisabe...Show More

02:23 | Dec 18th, 2018

Happy holidays from all of us here at Distillations. This holiday season our gift to you is a sneak peak at some of the stories we have in the works for 2019.

41:49 | Nov 19th, 2018

In April 1988 Harvard University was awarded a patent that was the first of its kind. U.S. Patent Number 4,736,866 was small, white, and furry, with red beady eyes. His name was OncoMouse. The mouse, genetically engineered to have a predisposition fo...Show More

01:20 | Nov 13th, 2018

Tune in to the next episode of Distillations on November 20th!

55:23 | Oct 16th, 2018

“We should never, ever forget that addiction treatment is a search for meaning in a place other than using drugs.” —Nancy Campbell, historian of drug addiction (This is the third and final chapter of a three-part series. See Part 1 and Part 2.) In t...Show More

44:35 | Sep 18th, 2018

Our current devastating opioid crisis is unprecedented in its reach and deadliness, but it’s not the first such epidemic the United States has experienced or tried to treat. In fact, it’s the third.  Treating America’s Opioid Addiction is a three-par...Show More

01:50 | Aug 31st, 2018

In our next episode we’re continuing our three-part series on the history of opioid addiction treatment in the United States. And we’re going back to the early 1960s, when the foundations for our modern opioid addiction treatment system were being bu...Show More

32:12 | Aug 21st, 2018

Our current devastating opioid crisis is unprecedented in its reach and deadliness, but it’s not the first such epidemic the United States has experienced or tried to treat. In fact, it’s the third.  Treating America’s Opioid Addiction is a three-par...Show More

01:59 | Jul 17th, 2018

We're hard at work on our next season. Listen to the first episode on August 21st!

39:43 | Jun 26th, 2018

In the final installment of our three-part series on environmental success stories, we tell you about Los Angeles’s caveat-filled triumph over smog. The battle started in the 1940s and continues today, but along the way crucial pieces of technology a...Show More

01:30 | Jun 19th, 2018

Tune in to the next episode of Distillations on June 26!

32:17 | May 22nd, 2018

Remember acid rain? If you were a kid in the 1980s like our hosts were, the threat of poison falling from the sky probably made some kind of impression on your consciousness. But thanks to the work of scientists, government, the media, and the pope—t...Show More

01:28 | May 15th, 2018

Tune in to the next episode of Distillations on May 22!

24:10 | Apr 17th, 2018

If you were around in the 1980s, you probably remember the lurking fear of an ominous hole in the sky. In the middle of the decade scientists discovered that a giant piece of the ozone layer was disappearing over Antarctica, and the situation threate...Show More

30:02 | Mar 13th, 2018

They’re at the grocery checkout. They kill cancer cells. They’re in pointers that drive cats crazy and in the fiber networks that connect us to the internet. Lasers are so ubiquitous it’s hard to imagine a world without them. So you’d think we would ...Show More

27:04 | Feb 13th, 2018

Yoga pants are having a moment. And while they’re not new, they’ve moved beyond the gym and yoga studio into nearly every corner of our lives. This so-called athleisure wear trend has made a lot of people happy. “Once I wore [yoga pants], I never wor...Show More

25:36 | Jan 9th, 2018

Every aspiring chemist has heard of Boyle’s law—the equation that relates the pressure of a gas to its volume. But even if you know about Robert Boyle himself, it’s not likely you’ve heard of his sister, even though she probably talked him through ma...Show More

27:12 | Dec 12th, 2017

As you ponder which shiny new gadgets to put in your children’s stockings this holiday season, beware of the story of the Abbott family, whose lives were forever changed after a little too much screen time. Distillations brings you a live performance...Show More

20:53 | Nov 14th, 2017

It’s one of the most bizarre episodes in American food history: when butter and margarine were at war. What you choose to spread on your toast might seem like a boring subject, but it turns out to be fascinating and sometimes hilarious. Margarine’s h...Show More

18:07 | Oct 17th, 2017

Baby horses and giraffes walk soon after they’re born, and they can feed and take care of themselves pretty quickly, too. A one-year-old person, on the other hand, is basically helpless. But humans go on to live much longer than most other mammals, a...Show More

30:39 | Sep 12th, 2017

Though they lived decades apart, Adolphe Dessauer and Abdelwahhab Azzawi share similar stories. They were both esteemed physicians who faced violence and persecution in their home countries. They both sought refuge abroad and found safety, only to fi...Show More

27:12 | Aug 15th, 2017

There are no parents in the world who want to see their child sick. Often the illness is no big deal—you follow doctor’s orders and your kid gets better soon. But what do you do when your child is really sick, and it’s because of decisions the founde...Show More

21:22 | Jun 13th, 2017

On April 22, 2017, more than one million people in 600 cities around the world took to the streets in the name of science. Many were scientists themselves, and quite a few donned lab coats. Some were protesting for the first time. It was an unusual s...Show More

20:55 | May 2nd, 2017

There was a time when tattoos were taboo, and you thought long and hard before getting one. Today 20 percent of American adults are inked. Tattoos just don’t carry the stigma they once did—unless it’s a particular kind of tattoo, in a particular plac...Show More

25:27 | Apr 4th, 2017

Most of us are content to use our existing five senses to see, hear, smell, taste, and touch our way through the world. But an increasing number of people called biohackers are not satisfied with watching the everyday brilliance of a sunset or pettin...Show More

15:44 | Mar 15th, 2017

For as long as humans have been around they’ve worried about their smell. “That’s why we’ve had perfumes for as long as we’ve had people,” says Cari Casteel, a CHF research fellow studying the history of deodorant. But, Casteel says, "it wasn't until...Show More

13:23 | Feb 16th, 2017

We all know hydration is important to health, but many people find water boring to drink. Juice and Coke aren’t boring, but they aren’t very healthy either. One way to transform water into a more exciting drink is to add bubbles. For centuries carbon...Show More

17:09 | Nov 8th, 2016

The sports bra is omnipresent in today’s sports landscape. But the current iteration of this nifty item is less than 40 years old, and it arrived with a serendipitous origin story. For this episode of Distillations we talked to Lisa Lindahl, an entre...Show More

30:20 | Oct 4th, 2016

Our producer is pregnant. For the past nine months people have asked what her birth plan is, which to her seems like asking what kind of weather she had planned for her wedding day. “All of a sudden my life was full of these terms: natural, medicated...Show More

13:52 | Sep 6th, 2016

Over the past year we’ve brought you stories about tacos, taxidermy, and DDT. But at the same time we’ve been thinking about and researching medicine—specifically, how outsiders to the field have helped change the ways doctors practice. Join us to fi...Show More

28:20 | Aug 9th, 2016

Now that the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs recognizes post-traumatic stress disorder as a significant issue among veterans, they’ve uncovered another problem—there aren’t enough therapists to go around. Virtual reality experts at the University...Show More

26:06 | Jul 5th, 2016

Have you noticed any antlered rabbits mounted on the wall of your local coffee shop? Or maybe some geese with butterfly wings? That’s because taxidermy has made a comeback. Our producer, Mariel Carr, wanted to know why, so she spent a few months expl...Show More

26:17 | Jun 7th, 2016

We’re guessing you know who Albert Einstein and Isaac Newton are, and maybe you’re even familiar with Linus Pauling or Roald Hoffmann. But it turns out that a lot of people can’t name a single female scientist besides Marie Curie. Exasperated by this...Show More

15:34 | May 4th, 2016

When you bite into a taco, quesadilla, or anything else involving a traditionally made corn tortilla, your taste buds get to experience the results of an ancient chemical process called nixtamalization. The technique dates to around 1500 BCE and invo...Show More

25:42 | Apr 5th, 2016

Everyone knows blood is powerful. The ancient Greeks realized it, Jesus understood it, Dracula certainly recognized it, and your doctor still knows it today. And everybody knows, says hematologist and historian of medicine Jacalyn Duffin, that if we ...Show More

21:11 | Mar 1st, 2016

Scientists experimented with skin and organ transplants for a long time before they finally met with success in the mid-20th century. Now surgeons are expert at performing transplants. The only problem? There aren’t enough organs to go around, which ...Show More

15:53 | Feb 2nd, 2016

Americans have had a long, complicated relationship with the pesticide DDT, or dichloro-diphenyl-trichloroethane, if you want to get fancy. First we loved it, then we hated it, then we realized it might not be as bad as we thought. But we’ll never re...Show More

22:21 | Jan 5th, 2016

2015 was a good year for outer space. Star Wars: Episode VII came out, NASA started hiring astronauts again, SpaceX successfully launched and returned a rocket, and the U.S. Congress passed the SPACE Act of 2015—a bill that gives any American who ext...Show More

24:01 | Dec 1st, 2015

Several years ago historian of medicine Alice Dreger found herself in a room full of intersexed people, individuals with reproductive or sexual anatomy that is neither typically female nor male. Dreger noticed something strange: many of them had teet...Show More

26:27 | Dec 1st, 2015

Hackers. Spies. Secrets. This is the menacing language of industrial espionage. But how easy is it to plunder a company for its ideas? Not very, says our guest, Douglas O’Reagan, a historian of science and technology. Throughout history, O’Reagan arg...Show More

34:59 | Oct 6th, 2015

Celebrities, politicians, and scientists have fiercely debated the safety of using genetically modified organisms, or GMOs, in food. It remains to be seen whether GMO labeling becomes mandatory in the United States, but there’s no doubt that the “GMO...Show More

27:59 | Sep 2nd, 2015

Ten years ago Hurricanes Katrina and Rita tore into the Gulf Coast and displaced more than one million residents. For many of these people, trailers provided by the Federal Emergency Management Agency became their homes. But many of the new occupants...Show More

26:17 | Jul 29th, 2015

Most of us are familiar with the achievements of Galileo and Newton, but who were their peers? And what was it like to practice science in the 16th and 17th centuries? Come geek out with us as we travel back in time and explore what the world was lik...Show More

18:36 | Jun 30th, 2015

This is Distillations’s 200th episode, and we’re celebrating! We pored through hundreds of shows and pieced together some of the funniest, grossest, and most surprising moments in Distillations history. Still chuckling from episode 166, "Alchemy Afte...Show More

36:16 | May 26th, 2015

Mother Nature can do a lot of damage. Tornadoes, hurricanes, floods, and droughts destroy landscapes and ruin lives. But what happens when humans are the ones creating these disasters? This episode of Distillations explores the many ways humans have ...Show More

43:40 | Apr 29th, 2015

The early days of neuroscience relied on tragedy to strike—a rabies infection, a botched lobotomy—before doctors could peek inside the brains of humans. Today advanced technology, such as the functional MRI, helps scientists study brains (and healthy...Show More

43:34 | Mar 31st, 2015

In 2014 the United States had 650 reported cases of measles, a disease made preventable by a vaccine introduced 30 years ago. The majority of these measles victims were children whose parents chose not to vaccinate them.  Meanwhile at least 85,000 di...Show More

38:39 | Feb 13th, 2015

Some technologies flash in the pan so quickly they hardly leave a trace (Google Glass anyone?); while others seem to stick around long past their use by date. And still other creations appear to be gone for good, only to make a comeback within a nich...Show More

39:40 | Jan 20th, 2015

In case you hadn’t noticed, during our short time on Earth we humans have created a lot of stuff. Some of it is life-altering, like the device you’re looking at right now, and some of it is pretty silly, like those plastic, banana-shaped containers m...Show More

38:58 | Dec 16th, 2014

Thirty years ago an HIV diagnosis was a death sentence. Today, sophisticated drug cocktails known as highly active antiretroviral therapy, or HAART, have dramatically changed the fates of people with the disease. They can now live with a chronic mana...Show More

40:28 | Nov 18th, 2014

At the beginning of the 19th century women in the United States had an average of seven or eight children. By 1900 they had only three or four, and today 35% of Americans have exactly two children. How did this happen? This episode of Distillations e...Show More

44:21 | Oct 21st, 2014

Chemical weapons have played a chilling role in human history, ever since they were first used in World War I.  As reports of more recent use continue to cycle through the news, we decided to take a deeper look.  We wanted to understand why chemical ...Show More

43:59 | Sep 23rd, 2014

If you asked people which of their senses they most feared losing, they'd probably say sight or hearing. But what about the ability to smell? This episode of Distillations examines what is perhaps our most underrated sense, and ponders what life woul...Show More

36:51 | Aug 12th, 2014

Where can you find a teacup, the molar of a goat, and an arrowhead all in one place? At an urban archaeology site, that’s where. This episode of Distillations goes underground, and reveals the fascinating worlds beneath our city shoes. First, we visi...Show More

30:47 | Jun 30th, 2014

This show takes on the frothy subject of beer, and explores the science, culture, and history behind the suds. First, Bob and Michal go back to school--beer school--and they learn a few things about what makes beer so tasy.  Then we talk to Patrick E...Show More

30:35 | May 5th, 2014

This episode explores the colorful (and sometimes risk-filled) history of pigments and painters, and the conservators who save paintings from the ravages of time and accidental chemistry. First we take an art field trip around Philadelphia as art his...Show More

09:04 | Mar 18th, 2014

Joe Palca is one of the best science storytellers out there. In his 20 years as an NPR science correspondent he’s covered all sorts of obscure topics, from soccer-playing robots and oyster glue to turtle paleontology. He finds the humor in the seriou...Show More

21:12 | Feb 4th, 2014

How do you show what the inside of an atom looks like? Or how a scientist feels in the moment of discovery? We decided to approach the human stories of science in a new way: by visualizing them. First we visit author and illustrator Jonathan Fetter-V...Show More

27:25 | Dec 20th, 2013

Have you ever wondered how chicken nuggets are made? Or what propylene glycol monostearate, monocalcium phosphate, or other listed ingredients are doing in your favorite packaged snacks? Distillations hosts Michal Meyer and Robert Kenworthy certainly...Show More

18:08 | Dec 3rd, 2013

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 sci...Show More

35:44 | Oct 22nd, 2013

What can zombies teach us about our fears of survival? CHF's Michal Meyer and Bob 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 dise...Show More

33:41 | Oct 21st, 2013

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 en...Show More

17:36 | Sep 3rd, 2013

Ancient Greek doctors knew about it, but could do nothing about the scourge we know as cancer. Producer Ed Prosser interviews historian Viviane Quirke about the development of chemotherapy drugs in the 20th century, drugs that for the first time offe...Show More

18:39 | Aug 19th, 2013

It’s that time of year again where we dive into our archives and bring back some of our favorite segments from the past year. First, meet Ian MacLeod from our show Shipwrecks, a man who spends much of his time with sunken ships and who knows about th...Show More

16:02 | Aug 5th, 2013

It’s that time of year again where we dive into our archives and bring back some of our favorite segments from the past year. First we travel to Austin’s South by Southwest Festival from the show Hard to Stomach. Producer Lindsay Patterson takes a sn...Show More

15:36 | Jul 22nd, 2013

It’s hard to make decisions without information, that’s why some researchers in the San Francisco area are collecting carbon dioxide data at the neighborhood level. As producer Andrew Stelzer discovers, the BEACON project does more than gather data; ...Show More

18:02 | Jul 8th, 2013

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...Show More

15:04 | Jun 24th, 2013

Today’s episode centers on adulthood. First, Pennsylvania State University’s Suzy Scherf tells us what’s going on in the brains of adolescents. Then, Katrina Roi takes a look at a common consumer product, the condom, and those who want to make it bet...Show More

17:29 | Jun 11th, 2013

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. SHOW CLOCK 00:00 Opening Credits 00...Show More

15:12 | May 28th, 2013

On today's show we look at how delicate desert ecosystems are affected by climate change. Then the impact of toxic metals on Rocky Mountain streams. SHOW CLOCK 00:00 Opening Credits 00:33 Introduction 01:10 Feature: Water Webs 09:10 Interview: Johan...Show More

17:07 | May 14th, 2013

On today's show we look at the modern power grid, on the brink of a new era. First, why the smart grid matters. Then, the critical mission of Caltech's Solar Army. SHOW CLOCK 00:00 Opening Credits 00:34 Introduction 01:09 A Smarter Grid 10:11 The So...Show More

15:26 | Apr 29th, 2013

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. SHOW CLOCK 00:00 Opening Credits 00:38 Introdu...Show More

16:36 | Apr 16th, 2013

On today's show we investigate the science beneath our streets. First how a team of amateur speleologists is keeping Howe Caverns safe for future generations. Then a look at Philadelphia's historic sewer system. SHOW CLOCK 00:00 Opening Credits 00:3...Show More

18:34 | Apr 1st, 2013

On today's show we learn how advances in urban agriculture are providing new access to fresh food. First how hundreds of tons of fishbones are cleaning up Oakland soil. Then tips on how to create your own backyard garden. SHOW CLOCK 00:00 Opening Cr...Show More

17:12 | Mar 18th, 2013

On today's show we see old bones made new again. First the ongoing restoration of Philadelphia's 19th Street Baptist Church. Then a discussion about what makes some old buildings greener than new ones. SHOW CLOCK 00:00 Opening Credits 00:28 Introduc...Show More

21:39 | Mar 4th, 2013

On today's show chemistry takes center stage. First, why science and comedy make gut-busting bedfellows. Then the history of science as popular entertainment. SHOW CLOCK 00:00 Opening Credits 00:36 Introduction 01:20 Science Comedy 08:51 Interview: ...Show More

15:04 | Feb 18th, 2013

During decades of tension between the United States and the Soviet Union over the course of the Cold War, both sides wielded science as a weapon. Find out how on today's show. SHOW CLOCK 00:00 Opening Credits 00:32 Introduction 01:31 Interview (Part...Show More

14:00 | Feb 4th, 2013

Just in time for Valentine's Day we explore the sexier side of alchemy. Historian Joel Klein explains how alchemists used passionate prose to disguise the details of their secret experiments. SHOW CLOCK 00:00 Opening Credits 00:44 Introduction 02:07 ...Show More

16:10 | Jan 22nd, 2013

Today your taste buds take center stage. First,how super-tasters' genetic gift might afford them better health. Then the art of imitation flavors. SHOW CLOCK 00:00 Opening Credits 00:41 'A World of Pure Imagination' 01:23 Super-Tasters 08:04 The Art...Show More

16:25 | Jan 7th, 2013

On today's show we peel back our skin. First, an innovative technology that could provide early detection of osteoporosis. Then, a look at stone man syndrome–a rare disease that causes the body's connective tissue to turn into bone when damaged. SHO...Show More

15:43 | Dec 23rd, 2012

We wrap up the three-part series A Day in the Life, spotlighting the common chemistry of morning, noon, and night. Today, how popular insomnia treatments work and the science behind our body's unique sleep cycles. SHOW CLOCK 00:00 Opening Credits 00...Show More

15:39 | Dec 10th, 2012

We continue the three-part series A Day in the Life, spotlighting the common chemistry of morning, noon, and night. Today, a look at the mysterious ingredients in many kitchen staples and the reason why even so-called healthy sweeteners can be toxic....Show More

14:21 | Nov 26th, 2012

Today we begin the three-part series A Day in the Life, spotlighting the common chemistry of morning, noon, and night. First, a look at what's lurking in our bathroom products and what experts say about the controversy over fluoridated water. SHOW C...Show More

15:15 | Nov 12th, 2012

Treasure or toxin? Today we follow Teflon's rise from happy accident to indispensable tool at work, home, and even war. SHOW CLOCK 00:00 Opening Credits 00:42 Introduction 01:24 The Origins of Teflon 08:46 Interview: Post-War Teflon 14:36 Closing Cr...Show More

12:23 | Oct 29th, 2012

Today we welcome back author Sam Kean to discuss the secrets and surprises contained in our DNA. He talks to Distillations’ executive producer Jennifer Dionisio. SHOW CLOCK 00:00 Opening Credits 00:31 Introduction 01:33 Interview: The Violinist’s Th...Show More

13:59 | Oct 15th, 2012

On today's show 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. SHOW CLOCK 00:00 Opening Credits 00:36 Introduction 01:40 Int...Show More

0:00 | Oct 1st, 2012

On today's show we track the evolution of smog from symbol of industrial progress to public health catastrophe. SHOW CLOCK 00:00 Opening Credits 00:39 Introduction 01:23 Interview: A Sign of Progress 05:08 Donora 14:16 Closing Credits CREDITS Speci...Show More

0:00 | Sep 17th, 2012

On today's show we test your gag reflex. First an exploration of rank, funky cheeses made from your own body's bacteria. Then the history of how distaste evolved into disgust. SHOW CLOCK 00:00 Opening Credits 00:50 Introduction 01:41 South By South ...Show More

15:36 | Sep 4th, 2012

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. SHOW CLOCK 00:00 Opening Credits 00:50 Introduction 01:35 Wrecked! 10:10 Undersea...Show More

0:00 | Aug 20th, 2012

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. SHOW CLOCK 00:00 Opening Credits 00:50 ...Show More

0:00 | Aug 3rd, 2012

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. SHOW CLOCK 00:00 Opening Credits 00:31 Introduction 01:01 The Int...Show More

0:00 | Jul 23rd, 2012

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. SHOW CLOCK 00:00 Opening Credits 00:32 Introduction 01:15...Show More

0:00 | Jul 9th, 2012

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. SHOW CLOCK 00:00 Opening Credits 00:42 Introduction 01:33 Emotional Tears 09:35 Onion Tears 13:2...Show More

0:00 | Jun 22nd, 2012

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. SHOW CLOCK 00:00 Opening Credits 00:43 Introduction 01:54 Antiperspira...Show More

0:00 | Jun 8th, 2012

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. SHOW CLOCK 00:00 Opening Credits 00:48 Introduction 02:1...Show More

15:25 | May 26th, 2012

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. SHOW CLOCK 00:00 Opening Credits 00:32 Introduction 01:20 The Pe...Show More

0:00 | May 11th, 2012

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...Show More

0:00 | Apr 27th, 2012

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. SHOW CLOCK 00:00 Opening Credits 00:26 Introduction 02:19 Al...Show More

14:02 | Apr 13th, 2012

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 ...Show More

0:00 | Mar 30th, 2012

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. SHOW...Show More

0:00 | Mar 16th, 2012

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. SHOW CLOCK 00:00 O...Show More

0:00 | Mar 2nd, 2012

On today's episode we look at the real and imagined implications of genetic modification in the middle of the 20th century. First, the early promise of plant modification. Then how this science inspired classic sci-fi films. SHOW CLOCK 00:00 Opening...Show More

0:00 | Feb 17th, 2012

On today's episode we look at how environments recover after natural and manmade disasters. First, we hear about how ecosystems repair themselves after hurricanes. Then we see how the Gulf of Mexico is faring after the Deepwater Horizon oil spill. S...Show More

0:00 | Feb 3rd, 2012

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 plac...Show More

0:00 | Jan 20th, 2012

On today's episode of Distillations we're gearing up for this weekend's playoff games with a look at the science of sports. First, we learn how athletes go the distance. Then we look into the brain of a fan. SHOW CLOCK 00:00 Opening Credits 00:30 In...Show More

0:00 | Jan 6th, 2012

On today's episode of Distillations we go straight to the source ... your DNA. First, we learn how technological advances are putting the dream of a $1,000 genome within reach. Then we discuss the implications of having genetic information at our fin...Show More

0:00 | Dec 23rd, 2011

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. SHOW CLOCK 00:00 Opening Credits...Show More

0:00 | Dec 9th, 2011

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. SHOW CLOCK 00:00 Opening Credits 00:33 Introduction 01...Show More

0:00 | Nov 25th, 2011

Step away from the sale rack! On today's episode of Distillations we examine your brain under the influence of shopping, as well as a potential health hazard found in receipts. SHOW CLOCK 00:00 Opening Credits 00:31 Introduction 01:17 Your Brain on ...Show More

0:00 | Nov 11th, 2011

How did we get here and who else is out there? These questions have nagged at humans for centuries. On today's episode of Distillations we explore early debate over the Big Bang Theory and find out what tools researchers are using to greet aliens. S...Show More

13:17 | Oct 28th, 2011

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 Inst...Show More

12:05 | Oct 14th, 2011

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 practic...Show More

11:53 | Sep 30th, 2011

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. ...Show More

12:39 | Sep 16th, 2011

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.. S...Show More

12:59 | Sep 2nd, 2011

Today's show explores one of our favorite senses: taste. First, revist the tongue map you may have studied as a kid. Next, learn how a natural sweetener might benefit waistlines—and even the world. SHOW CLOCK 00:00 Opening Credits 00:32 Introduction...Show More

15:18 | Aug 19th, 2011

Today we continue 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 farm, and how crop production has evolved in response to exploding glob...Show More

14:51 | Aug 5th, 2011

We bring you some of our favorite segments from past Distillations episodes this week: mesmerism, the impacts of climate change, and why its chic to be a geek.. SHOW CLOCK 00:00 Opening Credits 00:32 Introduction 00:44 Mesmerism 04:30 Extreme Effect...Show More

12:50 | Jul 22nd, 2011

We bring you some of our favorite segments from past Distillations episodes this week: Palmer the Poisoner, medicinal maggots, and the placebo effect. SHOW CLOCK 00:00 Opening Credits 00:32 Introduction 00:49 Palmer the Poisoner 04:15 Maggots 07:09 ...Show More

12:16 | Jul 8th, 2011

Today the Distillations team delves into the weird and wonderful world of its favorite barnyard animal: the cow. First find out why so few populations are lactose tolerant. Then take a literal peek inside the body of one of these creatures. SHOW CLO...Show More

14:36 | Jun 24th, 2011

Today we continue 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 suburb, and how its residents' transportation needs have evolved in the...Show More

12:18 | Jun 10th, 2011

Today Distillations welcomes guest producer Ari Daniel Shapiro, host of the podcast Ocean Gazing, who takes us on a tour of the ocean, revealing how optics can evaluate long-term changes in the oceanic environment and the effects of carbon dioxide on...Show More

14:35 | May 27th, 2011

In honor of the International Year of Chemistry, today we begin the four-part series Our Chemical Landscape. These shows look at how science has shaped the city, the suburbs, the farm, and the wild. Today's episode is about the city, and the role of ...Show More

11:21 | May 13th, 2011

Today's show wonders if it's becoming chic to be a geek. First, we see how pop culture portrayals of scientists have boosted their reputations with teenagers. Next, we look at the state of science education in the U.S. SHOW CLOCK 00:00 Opening Credi...Show More

12:25 | Apr 29th, 2011

In the midst of Japan's nuclear crisis, it's easy to forget that radioactive isotopes are often employed to save human lives. This week we look at diagnostic and therapeutic applications of nuclear medicine. SHOW CLOCK 00:00 Opening Credits 00:32 In...Show More

12:54 | Apr 15th, 2011

One of this century's great challenges will be mitigating the effects of our steadily warming planet. In today's episode we explore the consequences of our changing climate. SHOW CLOCK 00:00 Opening Credits 00:32 Introduction 01:11 Extreme Effects: ...Show More

11:04 | Apr 1st, 2011

This week, we celebrate April Fools' Day with a little medical trickery. First, we learn about Franz Mesmer's questionable 18th-century cures. Next we hear how fooling the brain is sometimes the only way to get accurate scientific results. SHOW CLOC...Show More

11:56 | Mar 18th, 2011

TIn this episode we learn about lesser-known women in the sciences. We start with Dorothy Hodgkin, the third woman to win a Nobel Prize in chemistry, and end with a tour spotlighting important females whose stories are told in CHF's museum. SHOW CLO...Show More

14:32 | Mar 3rd, 2011

From primetime to print, forensic scientists are usually depicted as courtroom heroes, but their real-life work makes for more than a thrilling story. On today's episode we look at how one such scientist sealed the fate of Palmer the Poisoner in the ...Show More

11:58 | Feb 18th, 2011

In honor of Black History Month, we reveal the lesser known accomplishments of George Washington Carver, and also pull from our oral history collection the stories of two African-American women fighting to make their way in the chemistry field. SHOW...Show More

12:00 | Feb 4th, 2011

In this episode we learn about how the mass production of oil paints spawned a new artistic movement and get a tour of artist Dove Bradshaw's studio. SHOW CLOCK 00:00 Opening Credits 00:32 Introduction 01:43 The Evolution of Oil Paints 04:21 Intervi...Show More

12:36 | Jan 21st, 2011

Rubber has played a shockingly dramatic role in our political and military history. In today's episode we revisit the consequences of the natural rubber shortage during WWII, and how a similar shortage might affect us today. SHOW CLOCK 00:00 Opening...Show More

11:11 | Jan 7th, 2011

On this episode we learn about the history and future of nuclear power, in the U.S. and abroad. SHOW CLOCK 00:00 Opening Credits 00:31 Introduction 01:08 History of the Nuclear Power Industry 04:13 Interview with Keith Moser 10:38 Closing Credits C...Show More

13:46 | Dec 24th, 2010

On this episode we are visited by the ghosts of chemistry's past, present, and future, who teach us about Greek fire, red sludge, and the future of the sun. SHOW CLOCK 00:00 Opening Credits 00:30 Introduction 00:44 Greek Fire 03:14 Hungarian Red Slu...Show More

13:17 | Dec 10th, 2010

This week we continue our four-part series about earth, air, water, and fire. Today’s episode is about air and how the gases in it have been changing ever since Day 1. SHOW CLOCK 00:00 Opening Credits 00:32 Introduction 01:11 A Brief History of Air ...Show More

09:10 | Nov 26th, 2010

On today's show we look at the Western perspective of Eastern medicine. First yogic breathing; then acupuncture. SHOW CLOCK 00:00 Opening Credits 00:27 Introduction 00:59 Acupuncture 03:29 Yogic Breathing 08:25 Closing Credits CREDITS Special thank...Show More

13:15 | Nov 12th, 2010

This week we continue our four-part series about earth, air, water, and fire. Today’s episode is about fire and how humans have tried to protect themselves from it. SHOW CLOCK 00:00 Opening Credits 00:32 Introduction 01:12 Flame Retardants 03:54 Thi...Show More

15:30 | Oct 29th, 2010

Today’s show will have your skin crawling… literally. In honor of Halloween we bring you a show revealing a scarier (and squirmier) side of science. SHOW CLOCK 00:00 Opening Credits 00:27 Introduction 00:54 Forensic Anthropology 04:06 A Conversation...Show More

14:31 | Oct 22nd, 2010

This week we continue our 4-part series about earth, air, water, and fire. Today’s episode is about water and the many ways to ensure it is potable. SHOW CLOCK 00:00 Opening Credits 00:31 Introduction 01:28 Portable Water Purification 05:24 Desalina...Show More
ARCHIVED: The podcast creator has made this episode no longer available for listening.

0:00 | Oct 14th, 2010

14:04 | Oct 8th, 2010

In this week’s episode we pay tribute to the periodic table. We talk to Sam Kean, author of the best-selling book The Disappearing Spoon and hear an excerpt from Primo Levi’s book The Periodic Table. SHOW CLOCK 00:00 Opening Credits 00:31 Introducti...Show More

16:52 | Sep 24th, 2010

This week we begin our four-part series about earth, air, water, and fire. Today’s episode is about earth and the Marcellus Shale. SHOW CLOCK 00:00 Opening Credits 00:31 Introduction 01:40 The Geologic History of the Marcellus Shale 06:04 The Marcel...Show More

13:15 | Sep 10th, 2010

Before pharmaceuticals existed, all medicines had to come from natural sources—like plants. On this week’s show we focus on such remedies. SHOW CLOCK 00:00 Opening Credits 00:32 Introduction 01:24 Digitalis, aka Foxglove 03:45 Visiting Lancaster Far...Show More

14:06 | Aug 27th, 2010

We continue to bring you some of our favorite segments from past Distillations episodes this week: Senescence, Richard Holmes, and Boy Rocketeer. SHOW CLOCK 00:00 Opening Credits 00:31 Introduction 00:57 Chemical Agent: Senescence 03:32 A Conversati...Show More

12:12 | Aug 13th, 2010

This month Distillations takes a step back to bring you some of our favorite segments from past episodes: Glenn Seaborg, the Three Sisters, and Living with Illness. SHOW CLOCK 00:00 Opening Credits 00:31 Introduction 00:57 Chemical Agent: Glenn Seab...Show More

13:33 | Jul 30th, 2010

Distillations marks its 100th episode this week! To celebrate, we revisit segments from some of our past shows and bring you new developments on electric car batteries, hair mats cleaning up oil spills, and the Obama administration's environmental po...Show More
ARCHIVED: The podcast creator has made this episode no longer available for listening.

0:00 | Jul 27th, 2010

11:55 | Jul 16th, 2010

Halfway through July, we are just about in the middle of summer. So we thought it would be appropriate to talk about meat and barbecuing in this week’s episode of Distillations. SHOW CLOCK 00:00 Opening Credits 00:31 Introduction 01:01 Chemical Agen...Show More

11:54 | Jul 2nd, 2010

As atmospheric carbon dioxide increases, does the world have to get hotter? Controlling the earth’s weather and climate is this week’s topic. SHOW CLOCK 00:00 Opening Credits 00:26 Introduction 01:11 Chemical Agent: Silver Iodide 03:02 Interview: Ja...Show More

10:57 | Jun 18th, 2010

If you could live forever, would you? Though most believe this to be a hypothetical question, there are some scientific processes that impart eternal life, or something like that, to actual creatures on earth. SHOW CLOCK 00:00 Opening Credits 00:31 ...Show More
ARCHIVED: The podcast creator has made this episode no longer available for listening.

0:00 | Jun 11th, 2010

11:47 | Jun 4th, 2010

Innovation can be messy work, and sometimes outright disastrous. This week on Distillations we’re looking at some of the 20th century’s most infamous scientific missteps. SHOW CLOCK 00:00 Opening Credits 00:31 Introduction 01:12 Chemical Agent: Thal...Show More

10:11 | May 21st, 2010

This week we’re digging into our archives and looking back at one of our first episodes of Distillations. SHOW CLOCK 00:00 Opening Credits 00:31 Introduction 00:59 Commentary: Trash Island 03:21 Element of the Week: Mercury 05:11 Cleaning Up Oil Spi...Show More

12:17 | May 7th, 2010

The future is now. Distillations, therefore, is pausing to compare what people once predicted the modern world would look like to the actual reality on the ground—and in the air. SHOW CLOCK 00:00 Opening Credits 00:32 Introduction 01:16 Chemical Age...Show More

13:06 | Apr 23rd, 2010

In honor of National Lab Day in May this episode focuses on the scientist in every kid. SHOW CLOCK 00:00 Opening Credits 00:31 Introduction 00:54 Chemical Agent: Bangsite 02:32 Feature: Kids Doing Science 06:51 Boy Rocketeer 12:15 Closing Credits C...Show More

11:41 | Apr 9th, 2010

April is National Poetry Month and Distillations is celebrating by looking at the connections between science and literature. SHOW CLOCK 00:00 Opening Credits 00:32 Introduction 01:26 Chemical Agent: Opium 03:41 Conversation with Richard Holmes 08:0...Show More

10:30 | Mar 26th, 2010

In early March 2010 the Chemical Heritage Foundation’s museum opened its newest temporary exhibit, Marvels and Ciphers: A Look Inside the Flask. SHOW CLOCK 00:00 Opening Credits 00:40 Introduction 01:05 Chemical Agent: Viagra 04:30 Secrets of the Al...Show More

11:28 | Mar 12th, 2010

What’s better than recycling? Reducing waste! OK, maybe not better, but equally important. In this week’s episode of Distillations we learn about industrial-waste reduction. SHOW CLOCK 00:00 Opening Credits 00:32 Introduction 01:11 Chemical Agent: C...Show More

12:04 | Feb 26th, 2010

Love it or hate it, plastic is hard to avoid. This week we take a look at plastic made from corn and find out just how biodegradable it really is. SHOW CLOCK 00:00 Opening Credits 00:31 Introduction 01:21 Polylactic Acid 03:32 Plastic Leaching 06:35...Show More

12:00 | Feb 12th, 2010

On this week’s episode of Distillations we’re talking about what the nose knows. First up we learn about the nose itself—how it works and how losing your sense of smell can affect your day-to-day life. SHOW CLOCK 00:00 Opening Credits 00:32 Introduc...Show More

12:31 | Jan 29th, 2010

Scientific discoveries can be dramatic tales of unexpected adventure. They can also be personal explorations of intuition and faith. SHOW CLOCK 00:00 Opening Credits 00:32 Introduction 01:02 Chemical Agent: The Wolf Trap 03:22 A Conversation with Bi...Show More

12:09 | Jan 15th, 2010

Whether it’s preventing illness by vaccines or avoiding germs, this episode is about getting sick and staying healthy. SHOW CLOCK 00:00 Opening Credits 00:31 Introduction 01:22 Chemical Agent: Meningitis Vaccine 03:27 Chemistry in Your Cupboard: Han...Show More

11:57 | Jan 1st, 2010

Another year has come and gone, but the impact of scientific discoveries made and concerns raised will be felt in 2010 and beyond. SHOW CLOCK 00:00 Opening Credits 00:32 Introduction 01:20 Asia: Water Management in a Changing Climate 04:02 Europe: L...Show More

12:00 | Dec 18th, 2009

There are many different types of crystals we encounter, ranging from tiny to extremely large in size. SHOW CLOCK 00:00 Opening Credits 00:32 Introduction 01:11 Chemical Agent: Sodium Chloride 03:34 Tools of the Trade 06:15 A Conversation with Karen...Show More

12:28 | Dec 4th, 2009

What do Isaac Newton, yeast, and Harold Urey have in common? They all come under the research microscope of Chemical Heritage Foundation fellows. SHOW CLOCK 00:00 Opening Credits 00:31 Introduction 01:10 Chemical Agent: Yeast 03:28 Tools of the Trad...Show More

12:15 | Nov 20th, 2009

In this episode of Distillations we clarify common misconceptions about food. SHOW CLOCK 00:00 Opening Credits 00:31 Introduction 01:18 Chemical Agent: Sucralose 03:30 Chemistry in Your Cupboard: Detox Diets 06:04 A Conversation with David Schleifer...Show More

11:58 | Nov 6th, 2009

Let there be light! Whether it comes from the sky or a bulb, we’d be lost without it. SHOW CLOCK 00:00 Opening Credits 00:31 Introduction 01:01 Chemical Agent: Organic Solar Cells 03:54 Mystery Solved! Seasonal Affective Disorder 06:42 Feature: The ...Show More

11:42 | Oct 23rd, 2009

Autumn! Learn about leaf changes, the three sisters, and apple cider. Chemical Agent: Senescence. SHOW CLOCK 00:00 Opening Credits 00:31 Introduction 01:07 Chemical Agent: Senescence 03:43 Tools of the Trade: The Three Sisters 06:27 Feature: Apple C...Show More

11:47 | Oct 9th, 2009

Everything falls into one of three phases of matter: solid, liquid, or gas. Or does it? SHOW CLOCK 00:00 Opening Credits 00:31 Introduction 01:11 Chemical Agent: Dry Ice 03:34 A Conversation with Michal Meyer 08:11 Chemistry in Your Cupboard: Glass ...Show More

11:51 | Sep 25th, 2009

Science isn’t some exalted ideal confined to labs and classrooms—it’s all around us. In this episode we share different ways that scientists have reached out to educate and enlighten the masses. SHOW CLOCK 00:00 Opening Credits 00:31 Introduction 01...Show More

12:05 | Sep 11th, 2009

Every year the Chemical Heritage Foundation holds Innovation Day—an event for people to get together to discuss and learn about science’s exciting new technologies. In this episode we take a look at innovations—the natural kind and the man-made kind....Show More

11:27 | Aug 28th, 2009

In honor of Labor Day this episode of Distillations looks at how chemistry has affected the work of a variety of professionals—for better or worse. SHOW CLOCK 00:00 Opening Credits 00:31 Introduction 00:59 Chemical Agent: Polybenzimidazole 02:58 His...Show More

11:33 | Aug 14th, 2009

Distillations is sharing more of our favorite episodes this week: free radicals, art forgery, and snoring. SHOW CLOCK 00:00 Opening Credits 00:31 Introduction 00:48 Chemical Agent: Free Radicals 02:42 Feature: Detecting Forgery in Art 07:35 Mystery ...Show More

10:41 | Jul 31st, 2009

It’s almost the end of the summer; so the Distillations crew is taking a look back at some of our favorite episodes this week: panspermia, umami, and pheromone perfumes. SHOW CLOCK 00:00 Opening Credits 00:40 Introduction 00:59 Chemical Agent: Pansp...Show More

12:28 | Jul 17th, 2009

Birth, once nature's miracle, is increasingly manipulated by humans and regulated by society. In this week’s episode we look at a range of reproductive technologies and the implications of their use. Chemical Agent: Luteinizing Hormone. SHOW CLOCK 0...Show More

11:58 | Jul 3rd, 2009

Location, location, location! In this week’s episode we talk about why and how certain spaces are chosen and used. Chemical Agent: Bromine. SHOW CLOCK 00:00 Opening Credits 00:32 Introduction 01:07 Chemical Agent: Bromine 03:13 Mystery Solved! Brown...Show More

11:50 | Jun 19th, 2009

Rise and Shine! Today we look at some of the most essential elements of a satisfying breakfast. SHOW CLOCK 00:00 Opening Credits 00:31 Introduction 01:21 Chemical Agent: Pectin 03:34 Chemistry in Your Cupboard: Butter vs. Oil 06:37 Feature: Making S...Show More

11:16 | Jun 5th, 2009

Distillations takes a look at the history and chemistry of dentistry. We find out how baking soda cleans your teeth and lidocaine numbs your gums. SHOW CLOCK 00:00 Opening Credits 00:31 Introduction 01:15 Chemical Agent: Sodium Bicarbonate 03:15 Che...Show More

11:44 | May 22nd, 2009

Laboratory science can be a risky business. While some of these substances’ dangers are easily mitigated by following proper safety procedures, others have risks that increase with extended exposure—a lesson unfortunately learned by many chemists in ...Show More

11:29 | May 8th, 2009

This year is the 50th anniversary of the integrated circuit! The IC is an important part of many electronic technologies we use today, from your iPod to your GPS. Chemical Agent: Chemically Amplified Photoresists. SHOW CLOCK 00:00 Opening Credits 00...Show More

11:23 | Apr 24th, 2009

After several long, cold months baseball season has finally begun! From Philadelphia, the home of 2008 World Series Champions, we bring you a show straight from the ballpark. Chemical Agent: Anabolic steroids. SHOW CLOCK 00:00 Opening Credits 00:32 ...Show More

11:55 | Apr 10th, 2009

It is officially spring — time to open the windows, let the fresh air in, and sweep those winter blues away! Learn about acetic acid and its cleaning power. Then find out how hard water can make cleaning more difficult, and what you can do about it. ...Show More

10:54 | Mar 27th, 2009

Nearly 60% of American households have at least one pet, and nearly two-thirds of pet owners had more than one. That’s a lot of dogs, cats, turtles, birds, hamsters and iguanas. On today’s episode we turn our scientific lens to the relationship betwe...Show More

11:52 | Mar 13th, 2009

Plants are not the silent, stationary creatures we imagine them to be. They drift, stretch, and dance in search of nutrients, water, and sunlight. Inspired by sLowlife, a dynamic multimedia exhibit now on display in the Clifford C. Hach Gallery at th...Show More

11:40 | Feb 27th, 2009

Fossil fuel has gotten us into all sorts of trouble lately. Gas production and consumption has caused international conflict, wrecked havoc on our planet, and lightened our wallets at the gas pump. Why not turn to plants? They get their energy from t...Show More

12:01 | Feb 13th, 2009

It’s Valentine’s Day this weekend, and love is in the air. Let’s learn how atoms find each other with an examination of chemical bonds. Chemical Agent: Free Radicals. SHOW CLOCK 00:00 Opening Credits 00:32 Introduction 01:05 Chemical Agent: Free Rad...Show More

11:58 | Feb 6th, 2009

Space, the Final Frontier! Mention the chemistry of space and you’re likely to hear bad jokes about Tang or the behavior of liquids in zero gravity. But it turns out that there’s an entire field—astrochemistry—dedicated to understanding the chemistry...Show More

11:42 | Jan 30th, 2009

Today Distillations is finding out more about professional networks—particularly in the field of chemistry. SHOW CLOCK 00:00 Opening Credits 00:31 Introduction 01:12 Chemical Agent: Sodium Cyanide 03:21 Tools of the Trade: Imaging Software 06:13 A c...Show More

12:00 | Jan 23rd, 2009

We’re hitting the slopes—and tending our wounds—on today’s episode of Distillations. We start off with the science behind sports gels. Next, find out more about the synthetic fabrics. Finally, learn about the latest advances in fake snow. SHOW CLOCK...Show More

11:48 | Jan 16th, 2009

Distillations is taking a look at the presidential side of chemistry. First we learn about stem cells and the controversy surrounding their research. Next we find out why 21-gun salutes are safe and not so smoky in Mystery Solved! SHOW CLOCK 00:00 O...Show More

11:52 | Jan 9th, 2009

Let’s go to the library! This week we take a field trip to that venerable institution where great reading abounds and shushing up is de rigueur. SHOW CLOCK 00:00 Opening Credits 00:31 Introduction 01:04 Chemical Agent: Water 03:43 Tools of the Trade...Show More

12:06 | Jan 2nd, 2009

What do you resolve to do in 2009? Get in shape? Improve your eating habits? Stop smoking? We cover them all on this week’s show.Our Mystery Solved! segment investigates why fruits and vegetables high in antioxidants, like the pomegranates pictured h...Show More

10:59 | Dec 26th, 2008

We are marking the one year anniversary of Distillations this week! To celebrate we’re looking back at the year 2008 and its noteworthy occasions: first, boron, whose 200th birthday was this year, then, the Nobel Prize. SHOW CLOCK 00:00 Opening Cred...Show More

11:21 | Dec 19th, 2008

Thanks to J. J. Thomson‘s plum pudding model of the atom, chemistry will be forever associated with 19th-century British Christmas traditions. His model was soon discarded, but it remains a staple of high school chemistry textbooks. SHOW CLOCK 00:00...Show More

12:00 | Dec 12th, 2008

The truth behind the fake—this week Distillations explores the science of forgery. Some forgery is known and expected, such as fake meat products for vegetarians, while other fakes are meant to deceive…think imitated artists. SHOW CLOCK 00:00 Openin...Show More