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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From primetime to print, forensic scientists are usually depicted as courtroom heroes, but their real-life work makes for more than a thrilling sto...

  • Added: Jan 16, 2012
  • Length: 14:31
Caption: Franz Anton Mesmer, 1815.
In this episode, we celebrate April Fools' Day with a little medical trickery. First, we learn about Franz Mesmer's questionable 18th-century cures...

  • Added: Jan 16, 2012
  • Length: 11:04
Caption: What changes might our planet witness in the next century?, Credit: Image courtesy of Flickr user Flying Singer.
One of this century's great challenges will be mitigating the effects of our steadily warming planet. In this episode we explore the consequences o...

  • Added: Jan 16, 2012
  • Length: 12:53
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In 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...

  • Added: Jan 16, 2012
  • Length: 11:56
Caption: Geek or chic? You be the judge!, Credit: Image courtesy of Flickr user Bylzz.
This episode wonders if it's becoming chic to be a geek. First, we see how pop culture portrayals of scientists have boosted their reputations with...

  • Added: Jan 16, 2012
  • Length: 11:21
Caption: PET scan from a former opioid addict under the influence of morphine, circa 1980., Credit: Image courtesy of the National Library of Medicine.
In the midst of Japan's nuclear crisis, it's easy to forget that radioactive isotopes are often employed to save human lives. In this episode we lo...

  • Added: Jan 16, 2012
  • Length: 12:24
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We bring you some of our favorite segments from past Distillations episodes: Palmer the Poisoner, medicinal maggots, and the placebo effect.

  • Added: Jul 24, 2011
  • Length: 12:52
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We bring you some of our favorite segments from past Distillations episodes: mesmerism, the impacts of climate change, and why its chic to be a geek.

  • Added: Aug 09, 2011
  • Length: 14:53
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In this episode Distillations welcomes guest producer Ari Daniel Shapiro, host of the podcast Ocean Gazing, who takes us on a tour of the ocean, re...

  • Added: Jun 10, 2011
  • Length: 12:17
Caption: What happens when cows swallow grass? With porthole cows, you can take a look yourself!, Credit:  Image courtesy of Flickr user twbuckner.
In this episode, we'll get a window on all things bovine – in some cases, literally. From the strange evolution of lactose tolerance to a look at ...

  • Added: Jul 08, 2011
  • Length: 12:16
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Take a moment from your lunch break to appreciate the sense that makes your meal truly enjoyable: taste. On this episode we take a close look at yo...

Bought by WTJU


  • Added: Sep 02, 2011
  • Length: 12:59
  • Purchases: 1
Caption: Where are your feathers, T-Rex?, Credit:  Image courtesy of Flickr user InfoMofo.
This episode goes back in time to try to pinpoint what exactly the dinosaurs were like. First, we reveal evidence that the oldest known bird might ...

  • Added: Jan 16, 2012
  • Length: 11:52
Caption: here the world's seeds stay safe., Credit: Image courtesy of Mary Tefre/Svalbard Globale Seed Vault.
This episode explores two very different ways people hope to protect future harvests. First, follow us to the Doomsday Vault, which protects 700,00...

Bought by KZMU Moab Community Radio


  • Added: Jan 16, 2012
  • Length: 12:06
  • Purchases: 1
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Trick or treat! On this episode of Distillations we give you a taste of both. First, try to choke back our explanation of a Dutch candy that featur...

Bought by WTJU


  • Added: Jan 16, 2012
  • Length: 13:16
  • Purchases: 1
Caption: Are there human-like beings in other galaxies such as this one?, Credit:  Image courtesy of NASA.
How did we get here and who else is out there? These questions have nagged at humans for centuries. On this episode of Distillations we explore ear...

Bought by WTJU


  • Added: Jan 16, 2012
  • Length: 12:09
  • Purchases: 1
Caption: The crowds stream into a mall on Black Friday., Credit: Image courtesy of Flickr user kevinspencer.
Step away from the sale rack! On this episode of Distillations we examine your brain under the influence of shopping, as well as a potential health...

Bought by KVSC


  • Added: Jan 16, 2012
  • Length: 11:36
  • Purchases: 1
Caption: This printer’s mark shows three putti holding a harp and a compass, combining the measure and tone of music with the precision of mathematics. Title page detail from Francesco Algarotti's Dialoghi sopra la luce, i colori e l'attrazione... , Credit: Image courtesy of the Roy G. Neville Historical Chemical Library, Othmer Library of Chemical History, Chemical Heritage Foundation.
On this episode of Distillations we investigate if there's science behind the sweet sounds of a Stradivari violin and learn how chemistry influence...

Bought by WTJU


  • Added: Dec 11, 2011
  • Length: 17:14
  • Purchases: 1
Caption: A sunny burst of flavor! Photo of Buddha's Hand Citron Vodka by Erin Hall, courtesy of St. George Spirits.
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 dete...

Bought by KUFM - Montana Public Radio, KSJD, and WNPR Connecticut


  • Added: Jan 16, 2012
  • Length: 13:20
  • Purchases: 3
Caption: Four nucleic acid bases, represented by the letters A, C, G, and T, make up your DNA. Researchers are working to decode their secrets., Credit: Flickr user skreck.
On this episode of Distillations we go straight to the source ... your DNA. First, we learn how technological advances are putting the dream of a $...

  • Added: Jan 16, 2012
  • Length: 13:29
Caption: Symptoms of extreme fandom can sometimes include the wearing of funny hats., Credit: Flickr user seantoyer.
On this episode of Distillations we look at the science of sports. First, we learn how athletes go the distance, chemically speaking. Then we look ...

Bought by KPVL, WTJU, and PRX Remix


  • Added: Feb 03, 2012
  • Length: 11:37
  • Purchases: 3