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.

170 Pieces

Order by: Newest First | Oldest First
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: 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: 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: 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: 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: 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
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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: Most people have heard the term 'food webs.' But have you heard about 'water webs'? , Credit: Flickr user shinybluesmiles.
In this episode we look at how delicate desert ecosystems are affected by climate change. Then the impact of toxic metals on Rocky Mountain streams.

Bought by KAWC / Border Radio - KOFA

  • Added: Jul 02, 2013
  • Length: 15:11
  • Purchases: 1
Caption: Easily available equipment, like cameras, can be put to use by citizen scientists., Credit: Flickr user Mike.
In this episode, we look at how civic scientists can gather useful data on their surroundings. We go to the Bay Area where a series of rooftop carb...

Bought by KPVL and WTJU

  • Added: Jul 25, 2013
  • Length: 15:35
  • Purchases: 2
Caption: Real Heroes comic book from 1942
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 storie...

Bought by WTJU

  • Added: Jul 22, 2014
  • Length: 21:15
  • Purchases: 1
Caption: Solid Comfort, 1906., Credit: Library of Congress
This show takes on the frothy subject of beer, and explores the science, culture, and history behind the suds.

Bought by WTJU

  • Added: Jul 22, 2014
  • Length: 30:45
  • Purchases: 1
Caption: An Alchemist in his Studio, Thomas Wijck. , Credit: CHF Collections
This episode explores the colorful (and sometimes risk-filled) history of pigments and painters, and the conservators who save paintings from the r...

Bought by WTJU

  • Added: Jul 22, 2014
  • Length: 30:34
  • Purchases: 1
Caption: Joe Palca tracks a story at NPR, Credit: Photo courtesy of Joe Palca
Joe Palca is one of the best science storytellers out there. As an NPR science correspondent he’s covered all sorts of obscure topics, from soccer-...

Bought by WTJU, Radio Newark, and WTJU

  • Added: Jul 22, 2014
  • Length: 09:03
  • Purchases: 3
Caption: Crisco and chicken nuggets, Credit: CHF collections and Evan Amos, Wikimedia Commons.
Have you ever wondered how chicken nuggets are made? Or what propylene glycol monostearate, monocalcium phosphate, or other listed ingredients are ...

Bought by Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, WTJU, RadioFreePalmer, and WYAP

  • Added: Jul 22, 2014
  • Length: 27:24
  • Purchases: 4
Caption: URS Corporation archaeologists excavate at a site beside I-95 in the Fishtown neighborhood of Philadelphia., Credit: Mariel Carr
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.

Bought by WTJU

  • Added: Aug 12, 2014
  • Length: 36:50
  • Purchases: 1
Caption: Illustration of a nose., Credit: Wikimedia Commons
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? We ex...

Bought by WTJU

  • Added: Sep 25, 2014
  • Length: 43:58
  • Purchases: 1
Caption: Gas mask exercise, Scott Field, Illinois.1942. , Credit: Library of Congress
Chemical weapons have played a chilling role in human history ever since World War I. As accounts of recent uses permeate the news, we decided to f...

  • Added: Nov 07, 2014
  • Length: 44:21
Caption: In vitro fertilization (IVF) in progress. , Credit: Wikimedia Commons.
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...

  • Added: Dec 03, 2014
  • Length: 40:27
Caption: AIDS awareness painting in Chimoio, Mozambique. , Credit: Courtesy of Flickr user Ton Rulkens.
Thirty years ago an HIV diagnosis was a death sentence. Today, sophisticated drug cocktails known as highly active antiretroviral therapy, or HAART...

Bought by WTJU

  • Added: Dec 17, 2014
  • Length: 38:57
  • Purchases: 1
Caption: Buckhorn Mesa landfill., Credit: courtesy of Flickr user Alan Levine.
During our short time on Earth we humans have created a lot of stuff. Some of it's life-altering, like the device you’re using right now and some o...

Bought by XRAY.fm and WTJU

  • Added: Jan 21, 2015
  • Length: 39:39
  • Purchases: 2