Distillations

Series produced by Distillations

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Science + Culture + History

Each episode of Distillations takes a deep dive into a moment of science-related history in order to shed light on the present. Produced by the Science History Institute.


167 Pieces

Order by: Newest First | Oldest First
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In this episode we look at the modern power grid, which is on the brink of important changes. First, why the smart grid matters. Then, the critical...

Bought by WTJU


  • Added: May 15, 2013
  • Length: 17:06
  • Purchases: 1
Caption: Want strong, shiny hair? Pick up a package of Superstrength Henna 'N' Placenta Conditioning Treatment at your local beauty store. It's just one of many beauty products containing decidedly icky ingredients., Credit: Jennifer Dionisio
In this episode we look at questionable appearance enhancers. First the Beauty Historian shares some shocking beauty rituals of yore. Then a look a...

  • Added: Apr 30, 2013
  • Length: 15:25
Caption: Susan Warzek helps her fellow speleologists return Howe Caverns to its natural splendor., Credit: Amy Kraft
In this episode we investigate the science beneath our streets. First how a team of amateur speleologists are keeping Howe Caverns safe. Then a loo...

Bought by KALW and WTJU


  • Added: Apr 30, 2013
  • Length: 16:35
  • Purchases: 2
Caption: Oakland residents tend to a backyard garden as part of the annual Throw Down for the Town service festival. , Credit: the Ella Baker Center. Photo by David Hanks.
In this episode we learn how advances in urban agriculture are providing new access to fresh food. First, how hundreds of tons of fishbones are cle...

Bought by WTJU


  • Added: Apr 03, 2013
  • Length: 18:33
  • Purchases: 1
Caption: Can this church be saved? Chemists and congregants alike say yes., Credit: Alex Lewis
In this episode we see old bones made new again. First the ongoing restoration of Philadelphia's 19th Street Baptist Church. Then a discussion abou...

  • Added: Mar 20, 2013
  • Length: 17:11
Caption: Wocka wocka!, Credit: snorgtees.com.
In this episode, chemistry takes center stage. First, why science and comedy make gut-busting bedfellows. Then the history of science as popular en...

Bought by WTJU


  • Added: Mar 11, 2013
  • Length: 21:38
  • Purchases: 1
Caption: A relic of the infamous space race between the United States and the Soviet Union. , Credit: Wikimedia Commons.
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. F...

  • Added: Feb 19, 2013
  • Length: 15:04
Caption: An engraving from Michael Maier's Symbola Aureae Mensae (1617) depicting an alchemical androgyne. , Credit: Wikimedia Commons. Also available in CHF's collections.
Just in time for Valentine's Day we explore the sexier side of alchemy. Historian Joel Klein explains how alchemists used passionate prose to disgu...

Bought by WDBM


  • Added: Feb 05, 2013
  • Length: 13:59
  • Purchases: 1
Caption: 1950s ad from the Givaudan Flavorist. , Credit: the Society of Flavor Chemists Library at Monell Chemical Senses Center.
Today your taste buds take center stage. First, how super-tasters' genetic gift might afford them better health. Then the art of imitation flavors.

Bought by WTJU


  • Added: Jan 23, 2013
  • Length: 16:09
  • Purchases: 1
Caption: The skeleton of Harry Eastlack, whose disease-ravaged bones are on display at Philadelphia's Mütter Museum., Credit: Evi Numen, 2011, for the Mütter Museum of The College of Physicians of Philadelphia.
In this episode we peel back our skin. First, an innovative technology that could provide early detection of osteoporosis. Then, a look at stone ma...

Bought by KVSC


  • Added: Jan 11, 2013
  • Length: 16:24
  • Purchases: 1
Caption: "Nothing sticks to 'happy pan,'" raves the bottom of this poster, the first ever advertisement for Teflon., Credit: Wikimedia Commons user trozzolo.
Treasure or toxin? In this episode we follow Teflon's rise from happy accident to indispensable tool at work, home, and even war.

  • Added: Nov 15, 2012
  • Length: 15:14
Caption: Sam Kean reading from his first book at CHF's inaugural Science Cabaret., Credit: Conrad Erb.
In this episode we welcome back author Sam Kean to discuss the secrets and surprises contained in our DNA.

  • Added: Oct 31, 2012
  • Length: 12:22
Caption: In Hieronymus Brunschwig’s Liber de arte Distillandi . . . (Strasbourg, 1512) two figures work with one of alchemy’s more grounded practices: distillation. From the Donald and Mildred Othmer Collection, CHF. , Credit: Will Brown.
In this episode, a conversation between two alchemy experts: James Voelkel, who curated CHF’s exhibit The Alchemical Quest, and Lawrence Principe, ...

  • Added: Oct 18, 2012
  • Length: 13:58
Caption: Arthur Henry Knighton’s Caustic Pot House Stacks, “A” Power Stack, “A” Pump Station, and “A” Evaporator Building., Credit: Image courtesy of the Herbert H. and Grace A. Dow Foundation. On view in CHF’s museum.
On today's show we track the evolution of smog from symbol of industrial progress to public-health catastrophe.

  • Added: Oct 09, 2012
  • Length: 14:19
Caption: A gourmet treat for some; a total gross-out for some others., Credit: Flickr user lmnop88a.
In this episode we test your gag reflex. First an exploration of rank, funky cheeses made from your own body's bacteria. Then the history of how di...

  • Added: Sep 18, 2012
  • Length: 13:13
Caption: Professor John Mainstone and the pitch drop experiment.
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-instan...

Bought by WTJU


  • Added: Aug 29, 2012
  • Length: 14:12
  • Purchases: 1
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We bring you some of our favorite segments from past Distillations episodes this week: attempts to contact aliens in space and the secret behind th...

  • Added: Aug 04, 2012
  • Length: 15:34
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We bring you some of our favorite segments from past Distillations episodes this week: animal communication in the Sonoran Desert and the toll of a...

  • Added: Aug 04, 2012
  • Length: 13:33
Caption: Love it or hate it., Credit: Flickr user andrewasmith.
In this episode we cross the Atlantic to learn what makes a perfect cuppa. Then we learn about the surprising health benefits of Marmite, a spreada...

  • Added: May 29, 2012
  • Length: 15:27
Caption: Remember when I leeched all the calcium from your bones?, Credit: Flickr user paparutzi.
Big eyes, soft skin, squeezable cheeks. No doubt, babies are adorable. But in this episode we take a break from our cooing to examine some more ser...

  • Added: May 16, 2012
  • Length: 13:43