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



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167 Pieces

Science + Culture + History

Caption: The midnight sun., Credit: Louisa Jonas
3 Pieces

Distillations' three-part series "A Day in the Life" spotlights the common chemistry of morning, noon, and night.

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3 Pieces

In this 3-part series we parse the chemistry of blood, sweat, and tears.

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4 Pieces

Distillations' 4-part series about the four classical elements: earth, air, water, and fire.

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4 Pieces

In honor of the International Year of Chemistry, Distillations produced a four-part series: Our Chemical Landscape. These shows look at how science has shaped the city, the suburb, the farm, and the wild.

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3 Pieces

A three-part series spotlighting the common chemistry of childhood, adulthood, and old age.

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49 Pieces

Stories from the Field preserves and celebrates the contributions of women working in chemistry and related sciences. The project captures scientific adventures and career insights in short, conversational audio interviews.


Caption: When it comes to kids and adults, the debate over fluoridated water has waged for decades., Credit: Flickr user sean dreilinger.
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 lur...

  • Added: Nov 27, 2012
  • Length: 14:21
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: Illustration of the carrack Mary Rose, which sunk off the coast of England in 1545. It's been remarkably preserved, thanks in part to resting in an anaerobic environment. , Credit: Original illustration by Anthony Anthony. Reproduction courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.
Ahoy, mateys. Join us on the ocean floor. In this episode we look at sunken ships: how they are preserved, and what they can tell us about past civ...

Bought by WTJU and XRAY.fm

  • Added: Sep 05, 2012
  • Length: 15:35
  • Purchases: 2
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